After a quick one-game road trip to Edmonton, the Kraken return home to face the Buffalo Sabres. Seattle is coming off of two straight losses, both to teams who sit in the top-5 of the NHL standings. In both games, the Kraken controlled play for large stretches of the game, only to come away with little on the scoreboard to show for it. Both the players and coaching staff have insisted the team is playing the right way. They just need to get the bounces. Will that happen tonight?
Opponent Spotlight – Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres’ on-ice play this season has been largely overshadowed by the drama surrounding the still uncompleted trade of their former captain, Jack Eichel. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported two days ago that the trade was “on the 1-yard line” with the two finalists being Calgary and Las Vegas. A franchise-altering move could happen any day now.
UPDATE: The Eichel trade has happened
While we’re sure to hear plenty of Eichel talk on tonight’s TV broadcast, it won’t affect the actual players the Kraken will be up against. While the Sabres were projected by many to finish last place in the NHL, they’ve come out of the gate hotter than expected. With a 5-3-1 start, Buffalo finds themselves third place in the Atlantic Division. Special teams has been a big part of Buffalo’s success, as they rank in the top-10 in the NHL in both powerplay and penalty kill percentage. Meanwhile, an uninspiring goalie tandem of 40-year-old Craig Anderson and career journeyman Dustin Tokarski has surprised, with the two goalies posting a combined .926 save percentage.
While the Sabres have plenty to be proud of through their first nine games, they have cooled down a bit lately. In their last two games, Buffalo lost to a Kings team that came into the game last in the Pacific Division and then lost to a skeleton crew of a Sharks team largely comprised of career AHLers after numerous San Jose players were ruled out with COVID-19. It’s looking like this Sabres team may be who we thought they were.
- Powerplay – The Kraken’s powerplay is easily their most glaring weakness through the team’s first 10 games. Seattle’s 9.4% powerplay percentage ranks 30th of 32 NHL teams. Today’s game will be a chance to get back on the right track after practicing some new looks on the powerplay yesterday. Seattle’s powerplay failures arguably cost them their last two games. Time to turn it from a liability into an asset.
- Use your depth – The Sabres have some talented players with high draft capital like Rasmus Dahlin and Dylan Cozens, but they’re not a deep team, which is something the Kraken can take advantage of. A Kraken third line containing Morgan Geekie and Jordan Eberle could create some mismatches in Seattle’s favor if deployed properly.
- Keep shooting from the point – The Kraken utilize their defensemen to create offense at one of the highest rates in the NHL. Three of the five goals the Sabres allowed in their last game came directly from defensemen shooting the puck from the point. If the Kraken defensemen can get pucks through to the front of the net, rebounds should be there for the taking for the forwards.
Did You Know…
Each Gameday Morning Brief, I’m going to share a memorable, funny, or interesting thing I remember about the team the Kraken are facing.
The Sabres have a rich history of interesting memories from which to choose, but in the spirit of the current state of the Sabres organization I’m going to go with perhaps the ugliest jersey in the history of the NHL. The Sabres wore this abomination of a sweater as an alternate jersey from 2013-2015. So many valid options for the worst part of this jersey. Different colors on the front and back, the awkward grey numbers, the “BUFFALO” right above the primary logo. Take your pick.
ECH Postgame Live
Join us after the game for ECH Postgame Live! After every Kraken game this season, RJ and Dylan will do a live postgame show on the Emerald City Hockey YouTube Channel. ECH Postgame live will include a postgame wrap-up, analysis, and a live Q&A with viewers. Join the community of Kraken fans who tune in after the game to talk Kraken hockey!