The role Seattle Kraken’s lineup plays is off to a hot start

The role Seattle Kraken’s lineup plays is off to a hot start

The Seattle Kraken put their franchise-best four-game winning streak on the line Tuesday at Climate Pledge Arena against the Nashville Predators. It’s been a fun start to the season for the Kraken, who have won some big games and played complete hockey early on.

Saturday: The Kraken beat the Pens 3-2 for their fifth win in six games

There are many factors you can point to for the Kraken’s start, but one of the big reasons is that they have managed to put a consistent lineup on the ice.

All six defensive pairings have been the same this year, and for the most part, so have the forward lines. Last season’s front lines were constantly in the blender thanks to injury, COVID, and the lack of a trio to step up and seize the opportunity.

Things are different now for head coach Dave Hakstol and the Kraken. The top six forwards have played together all season, and the third line has been largely consistent. While the fourth line has seen a rotation of players come through it, it has been productive, led mainly by the play of Morgan Geekie.

“We’ve been able to have some consistency there and it’s been important that it allows some of the chemistry to grow,” Hakstol said after practice Monday. “Not just among the (top) group of three, but also just in terms of their roles in a hockey game. It can change on a nightly basis, depending on the situation, but to me that’s been one of our strengths, to have guys from different areas of the roster step into different roles throughout a 60-minute game of hockey. The consistency has been a positive factor.”

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Forward lines are rarely static, and at some point during the season changes will need to be made for various reasons. Jared McCann’s lower-body injury has already caused a shake-up in Seattle’s third line, and despite practicing Monday, he remains day-to-day.

A coach can adjust a line during a game or from game to game depending on the situation. For now, Hakstol can enter the top six every night, and that’s a big difference from last season.

Here’s a look at how the Kraken lines have performed.

Andre Burakovsky-Alex Wennberg-Oliver Bjorkstrand

This top lane has been driving games for the Kraken, but still has a bit more to give. When on the ice at five-on-five, they push the pace and have an unblocked shot attempt advantage of 115 for and 84 against, which is good for 57.79%.

“I think we fight hard, work for each other, help in the games,” Bjorkstrand said. “I think we read each other and make good plays. I think we put in some good minutes. I still think we have to finish and let’s put the puck in the net. Once we figure that out, I think we can take our line to another level as long as our chances keep coming.”

The finish that Bjorkstrand mentioned is the only thing the Kraken top line lacks.

Burakovsky has three goals, but two of them have come on the power play. Bjorkstrand has only scored once, but has chipped in with six assists and leads the team with 46 shots on goal. Wennberg, known as a playmaker, has three goals for the group.

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The goals will come and with the chances and possession the trio produce, they will be lethal when they do.

Bjorkstrand says that the chemistry the three have developed happens mostly in games. Burakovsky is a new teammate, but Bjorkstrand and Wennberg have a history dating back to when both played in Columbus for the Blue Jackets.

“He helped with a lot of my goals,” Bjorkstrand said. “I like to play with him.”

Jaden Schwartz-Matty Beniers-Jordan Eberle

Seattle’s second line has been an effective mix of youth and experience. Schwartz and Eberle played together extensively last season before Schwartz went out with an injury, and Eberle had chemistry with Beniers during the rookie’s 10 games at the end of the season.

Beniers has fit in with the two veterans, and the three have skill sets that have been complimentary. Schwartz is a possession machine and wins puck battles on the boards and with the forecheck. Eberle is a versatile vet who has seen and done a little bit of everything in the NHL. Beniers has benefited and has shown that he is a 200-foot player who can make those around him better.

During the Kraken’s home win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 29, Beniers drew defenders to him allowing him to slide the puck to Eberle for his first of the season.

A play later, it was reversed with Eberle setting up Beniers for what would be the game-winner in Calgary.

The line also puts up solid underlying numbers. At five-on-five, they are a 50% shooting trio, but have had an impressive 54.87% of shot quality.

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As Beniers matures even more, the sky may be the limit with this line.

Jared McCann-Yanni Gourde

There has been some change with the third line, but Gourde and McCann have been the most regular, playing in 10 games together. Brandon Tanev and Karson Kuhlman have spent time on this line, as has Shane Wright and most recently Morgan Geekie.

But as long as Gourde and McCann have been involved, the line has been pretty good, with a five-on-five unblocked shot advantage of 56.15%, and they have a 55.29% shot quality. How this line is deployed Tuesday depends on McCann’s health. In Monday’s practice, McCann took every other line rush with Gourde and Tanev, which leaves a question mark. If McCann is good to go, chances are he will join Gourde.

Daniel Sprong-Morgan Geekie-Ryan Donato

The fourth line has been the one line that has seen more players cycle through it, but lately this trio has been productive.

Playing limited minutes, Geekie has scored four times and added three helpers while Sprong has been big with seven points in seven games. Donato is the type of player who gets involved no matter where he is in the lineup. Having a productive fourth line gives Hakstol a certain advantage in games, especially at home when he gets the last shift. He can put this line out against the opposition’s fourth line and be a threat.

More from Andy Eide: Can the Kraken maintain its hot start?

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