Had it been the regular season and a game that mattered in the standings, we would have heard the old adage “we’ve got to stay out of the penalty box.” The penalty kill started strong and finished flustered as the Seattle Kraken scored twice on the man advantage against the Vancouver Canucks in the expansion franchise’s 5-3 win. Head coach Travis Green didn’t mind his team’s 5-on-5 play, especially considering the Canucks iced mostly a team of prospects and AHL’ers while the Kraken opened their preseason history with some big guns.
The Kraken started Jordan Eberle, Jared McCann, Jaden Schwartz up front, Mark Giordano and Jamie Oleksiak on D, and Philipp Grubauer in net.
“Exhibition is funny where you’ll play some games in exhibition where one team has a veteran group and you’ve got a young group on the other side,” Green said. “When you’re a coach and you see that you do get a little worried about it, but I thought our young team hung in there. I know we were outshot but I thought 5-on-5 we defended well in our own zone.”
The first period was the Jack Rathbone show. The young left-shot D-man had a goal and an assist for the Vancouver Canucks in the first twelve minutes of the game. He scored coming out of the penalty box, after picking up a loose puck, skating in and ripping one past Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer to give his club a one-nothing lead. Minutes later he assisted on Brock Boeser’s snipe that gave Vancouver a 2-0 1st period lead.
“I was just trying to draw one guy to me,” Rathbone said, “I think I was able to hold on to it for one extra second, try to get a guy to me and then obviously try to put it in “Bessie’s” wheelhouse, getting the puck to him, getting it in his hands is never a bad idea.”
When asked who stood out, Green mentioned Rathbone, forwards Phil Di Giuseppe and Danila Klimovich, and goalie Arturs Silovs who played the first two periods in net. The not-so-good list included summer acquisition, centreman Jason Dickinson.
“He’s been alright, I’d say average so far,” Green said. Dickinson did not fair well with the bag skate on day-one of training camp Thursday and has not done anything truly exemplary since.
In describing Olli Juolevi, Green said “I thought he was fine.” Juolevi was the main factor in one of the strangest and softest game-winning-goals you’ll ever see. The Canucks won the draw back from the left-wing faceoff circle, the pack came to Juolevi in front of the net, who then got it tied up in his skates and caromed it past goalie Spencer Martin. Kraken centre Morgan Geekie got credit to make it 4-3 and he’d add a top-shelf wrister later in the 3rd to wrap up the scoring. Similar story there for Juolevi, bag skate trauma on Thursday and a slow start since.
— Green played three-and-a-half seasons in Spokane for the Chiefs in the Western Hockey League from 1986 to 1990. He was given a hearty round of applause after a whistle early in the first period which he acknowledged.
— The Canucks are back at it, presumably with a must more veteran, star-studded line-up Monday evening in Abbotsford to take on the Calgary Flames.