Tonight’s Kraken game against the Golden Knights is technically just another early season road game on the schedule. But in the context of last Saturday’s collapse against the Arizona Coyotes, it comes with extra importance. Three days ago, Seattle blew a 3-1 lead to give lowly Arizona their only win of the season, hitting probably the lowest point in the team’s young existence. But with every challenging circumstance comes an opportunity- and this game presents the Kraken with a chance to reclaim their identity after losing it entirely on Saturday. Ultimately, tonight’s result on the scoreboard is of secondary importance to the Kraken. What matters most is the team giving an effort they can be proud of, one they can look to as a template of who they are going forward.
Opponent Spotlight – Vegas Golden Knights
When it comes to the Golden Knights, the elephant in the room is the franchise-altering trade they made last Thursday for 24-year-old center Jack Eichel. Eichel will be sidelined for at least three months with a neck injury, so he won’t be on the ice tonight. If you want to hear our in-depth thoughts on the trade and what it means for the Kraken, we covered it on this week’s podcast at the 33:53 mark.
While I’ll get to the team the Kraken will face on the ice tonight soon, I have to talk about the players that won’t be in the lineup. As mentioned earlier, Jack Eichel won’t play tonight. But Vegas will also be without their captain Mark Stone, as well as Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, and Nolan Patrick. That leaves a severely depleted forward group, something Seattle can take advantage of. Decimated by injuries, the Golden Knights haven’t been their usual dominant selves, sporting a 6-6-0 record going into tonight’s game. They’re still not an easy opponent by any stretch, but they should be more beatable than when Seattle faced them almost a month ago.
- Rein in the forecheck early – Seattle’s last game in Vegas, their first ever regular season game, has a key element in common with tonight’s game. Like they did on October 12th, the Kraken will enter tonight’s game with a little extra emotion and a motivation to start the game strong. In the season opener, that probably led Seattle to be more aggressive on the forecheck in the game’s opening 10 minutes than they would have otherwise been. While it did give the Kraken a few scoring chances, ultimately they got burned by Vegas’ speed in transition and the Golden Knights took a 2-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game. The Kraken need to remember that lesson tonight and be wary of venturing too deep into the offensive zone looking for an early goal.
- Win the depth forward matchups – As covered earlier, the Golden Knights have a severely depleted forward group. This has caused their bottom two forward lines to be populated by the likes of Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondjberg, and Michael Amadio (combined 27 NHL games the last 2 seasons). The Kraken bottom-6, led by Morgan Geekie and Joonas Donskoi, has a chance to be the offensive difference maker in this game if they’re matched up against Vegas’ less experienced depth forwards. It’ll also be a prime opportunity for Donskoi to score his first goal of the season.
- Stay aggressive on the PK – I’m going to keep my third key the same as last game. No, it’s not lazy writing. The Kraken’s PK outlook is surprisingly similar to last game. For the second game in a row, the Kraken will be involved in a matchup of the worst two powerplays in the NHL. On Saturday, the Kraken were second-worst and the Coyotes worst. Now, the Kraken are in the bottom spot with the Golden Knights coming in at 31st of 32 teams. I’ve talked in the past about Vegas’ powerplay coach Steve Spott and his teams’ propensity to get outchanced while on the powerplay. If the Kraken stay aggressive on the PK, they could be in for some good scoring opportunities while down a man.
Did You Know…
Being the NHL’s second-newest team, the Golden Knights don’t have as many memories for me to draw from as most teams. But they were part of the most memorable hockey game I’ve ever attended: Game 7 of the 2019 Western Conference Quarterfinal. After leading the series 3-1 and then going up 3-0 in the third period of Game 7, the Golden Knights ended up on the wrong side of one of the most remarkable comebacks in NHL history. Everyone who was there knew they had just witnessed something special.
Here’s a photo I took of the handshake line after the game:
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!