My fiance got tickets to last night’s contest against the Washington Capitals from a co-worker with season tickets, so there was really no excuse. I had never been to a Kraken game before and she’d never been to a hockey game before, so this was the perfect opportunity! This also happened to be my first NHL game ever (I’ve seen the Everett Silvertips, the Tacoma Sabercats back when they existed, and the Thunderbirds back when they played in Seattle), so I was pretty excited, even though it was a Thursday night and I had work early the next morning.
I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t watched the Kraken play since last season. Indeed, it might’ve been fairly early on in their inaugural season, when they were one of the worst teams in the league and very much looked like it. They were a rough hang. There wasn’t anything they did well, nothing exciting or fun or interesting. Granted, you could say they were building for the future, and trying to keep their salary issues under control, but out on the ice, that’s not something you want to watch for 80 games a year.
So, I’ve been kind of following along from afar this season. I know they’re significantly better. I know the offense is vastly improved. The defense could still be better, but they feel like an actual team now, and they’re winning games, which is all that matters.
We had great seats! Lower bowl, behind the net, 21 rows back. It was the net that – as chance would have it – saw the bulk of the goals scored (indeed, all but one). As far as first games go, it was like they tailored it just for us!
Grubauer gave up two goals in the first period, which honestly felt about right. He stunk last year. For someone making the kind of money he got in free agency, it seems like we really should’ve gotten someone to help carry us a little more. Obviously, I have no frame of reference when it comes to how the rest of the team around him affects his level of play, but he doesn’t seem to be elite, and he’s making elite goaltender money.
I heard he got hurt earlier this year, and thought it was no coincidence that the team’s fortunes started to turn around. I don’t know if Martin Jones is all that much better – he’s given up 17 goals in the last three games, all victories somehow – but again, I haven’t been watching this team until last night, so I dunno. I didn’t even realize Grubauer was back from injury, but when I saw him in front of the net last night, I figured he’d regained his rightful starting job. It turns out, this is the second game he’s appeared in since October, so I don’t know if they’re just bringing him back slowly, or if he’s entrenched as the backup for now. But, a relatively easy 2-0 deficit after one period sure felt like a Grubauer Special.
I wondered if our first Kraken game would be a shutout. Thankfully, those fears were allayed in the second period, when we pulled it to within 2-1 (and had a few good chances to tie it up heading into the final frame). We saw a goal, we saw our team score a goal, we saw a fight within the first few minutes of the game (something that absolutely blew my fiance’s mind), if that was all that happened, I would’ve considered the entire experience a huge victory.
But, then the game got interesting. Grubauer and the rest of the defense stiffened up. We shut down every subsequent power play opportunity after they scored on the first one. We dictated the tempo and kept firing away at opportunities. Finally, with just over two minutes left in regulation, we got one through to tie it up at 2-2. I thought for sure we’d find a way to squeak one in before the final horn, but overtime ended up being our destiny.
Matty Beniers won the overtime face off, raced to the puck that had slipped into Capitals territory, and shot one under the legs of the goaltender just seven seconds into the extra frame to win it. Check it out, what a sight to behold!
What a thrill! I thought the whole experience was incredibly fun. It was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, so there were some cool tributes going on. The jumbotrons (The Twins, as they call them, since there are two of them) were helpful but not intrusive. I dunno, maybe it’s a different experience for the poors sitting way up high, but all I know is my attention kept being drawn to the ice and not to the video screen, which is important. The concessions are a solid experience, even though everything is wildly over-priced. I couldn’t tell you what we paid for two chicken sandwiches, two waters, and a basket of fries, because it’s one of those things where you enter your credit card as you walk in, and then you just walk out with your food and they supposedly magically charge you what you owe; I guess I’ll find out at my next bank statement. We never left our seats once we got there, so I don’t know what it’s like during the intermissions, as far as crowded bathrooms and whatnot. It seems like they got it pretty well sorted out.
As for the hockey experience, everyone I’ve ever talked to who’d been to both always told me that the difference between minor league hockey and the NHL is night and day. I don’t know if I’m a sophisticated-enough fan to tell the difference. Hockey’s hockey, at least to my untrained eyes. The rink seemed bigger? I don’t know, I haven’t been to a game in person in YEARS; if I were to go to a Silvertips game tomorrow, maybe I’d understand.
Anyway, great game, and a great time had by all. I can’t wait to go again!