After a fun bounce-back win against the Buffalo Sabres in which Seattle finally found the puck luck that had eluded them for so long, the Kraken travel to Arizona to take on the still winless Arizona Coyotes. The Kraken will look to take care of business in the desert and continue the kind of play that saw them outshoot Buffalo by a 17-shot margin.
Opponent Spotlight – Arizona Coyotes
There’s no point in trying to sugarcoat it. The Arizona Coyotes are the worst team in the NHL. They sit at the bottom of the league standings with an 0-10-1 record and remain the only NHL team who has yet to win a game this season. The Coyotes are in full-on tank mode. This is a team comprised of career journeymen, other teams’ cap dumps, and waiver wire pickups all held together by an elite defenseman in Jakob Chychrun and a legend of the game riding out the rest of his career in the 34-year-old Phil Kessel.
In addition to the mismatch on paper, the Coyotes will be on the second half of back-to-backs after losing 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks last night. With Seattle being relatively well-rested and facing a tired Coyotes team, this may well be the most advantageous matchup the Kraken will have all season.
- Don’t get complacent – This has all the makings of a trap game. Seattle is coming off a win that gave them a major confidence boost in front of their home crowd. Arizona will be tired and heavily outmatched in the skill department. The Kraken have many reasons to take the ice feeling like they already have the win in the bag. But at the pro level, you underestimate your opponent at your own peril. We’ve seen countless times in the NHL that any team can beat any other team on any given night. The Kraken would be wise to remember that.
- Finish on breakaways – By my count, the Kraken had five breakaways in Thursday’s game against the Sabres, coming away without a single goal. While Seattle was ultimately able to secure the win, those breakaways were missed opportunities to put the game away much sooner. Recognizing this, the Kraken worked on breakaway moves in practice yesterday. Practicing a specific area of improvement has paid dividends for the Kraken so far this season. If any team is going to give them more defensive breakdowns to take advantage of, it’s Arizona.
- Stay aggressive on the PK – While the Kraken’s powerplay struggles have been well-documented, it’s been even worse for the Coyotes. At a meager 7.4% clip, Arizona’s powerplay is one of only two in the NHL faring worse than Seattle’s. On 27 powerplay opportunities this season, the Coyotes have scored two goals while allowing one shorthanded goal. Given the lack of scoring threat, the Kraken penalty killers can afford to be aggressive, much like they were in the Buffalo game, earning a couple breakaways shorthanded.
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.
For today’s Coyotes memory, I’ll throw it back to better times in the desert, talking about former Coyotes and current Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith. Smith was the Coyotes’ starting goalie from 2011-2017 and led the team to its only conference final appearance in 2012. He’s still the Coyotes’ all-time games played leader among goaltenders. What I remember most about Smith’s time in Arizona is his puckhandling ability, which was remarkable for a goalie. For my money, he’s the best goalie I’ve ever seen at handling (and especially shooting) the puck.
Check out this highlight from the 2017 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Smith shoots the puck into an incredibly small target from the opposite end of the ice, stunning everyone in attendance.
I was fortunate enough to get a good view of the goal in-person, sitting about ten rows up from the spot Smith shot the puck. Here’s a photo I took after of Smith talking to then-Sharks goalie Martin Jones:
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!