After dropping their fourth game in a row in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Kraken look to rebound in what is probably the the most winnable game they have left in the month of November. The Kraken have fielded a lot of questions about what needs to happen to get on the right track again. Captain Mark Giordano mentioned the importance of getting that first win to break the losing streak: “You’ve just got to win a game somehow…to start feeling good about yourself again.” The Kraken have perhaps their best opportunity for that tonight. If they can pull out the two points, as coach Hakstol said, “It can turn around quickly and snowball in the other direction.”
Opponent Spotlight – Chicago Blackhawks
When looking at the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s necessary to mention that the team’s play and other decisions within the organization this season have been overshadowed by the results of an investigation released in late October on the 2010 sexual abuse of former player Kyle Beach by a team video coach. If you want to hear our thoughts on that, we covered it in episode 14 of our Podcast at the 20:10 mark.
Moving to the team’s performance on the ice, the Blackhawks had an underwhelming start to their season after making a pair of big-name acquisitions in the offseason in Seth Jones and Marc-André Fleury. Chicago lost their first nine games of the season and have looked like one of the worst teams in the NHL. The Blackhawks have yet to win a game on the road this season, with an 0-5-1 record away from home. That said, the trend line has been pointing upwards for Chicago recently, as the Blackhawks come into tonight’s game on a three-game win streak.
The Blackhawks have a pair of individual players the Kraken will need to focus on: Patrick Kane and Seth Jones. Kane has been a star player in the NHL for over a decade and the 33-year-old forward has shown no signs of slowing down. He leads the Blackhawks with 15 points in 11 games and boasts some of the best hands in the league. Much of Chicago’s offense runs through him. On defense, recent acquisition Seth Jones has been a workhorse on the Chicago blueline. His 26:06 average ice time per game ranks fifth among all NHL players this season. Kraken forwards can expect to see Jones on the ice for nearly half the game.
- Quick passes down low – I was impressed with the Kraken’s practice yesterday. There was more contact than usual and the practice featured a lot more game-like situations. One of the things I was pleased to see the Kraken work on was set plays low in the offensive zone that involved quick passes to draw defenders out of position. Those are the kind of plays that can provide the offense Seattle has been missing. If the Kraken can put that quick passing down low into tonight’s game, they could take advantage of a Blackhawks defense that has allowed the fourth-most goals per game in the NHL.
- Learn from Arizona game: Don’t underestimate your opponent – As I mentioned in the Gameday Morning Brief before the Kraken-Coyotes game, at the NHL level, you underestimate your opponent at your own peril. That was a lesson the Kraken learned the hard way earlier this month when they played the only team lower than Chicago in the Central Division standings. When Seattle led 3-1 against Arizona, they took their foot off the gas as it became clear that the team felt they had the win in the bag already. No matter what the score, the Kraken can’t afford to do that tonight. Chicago is a more skilled team than their record indicates and can make teams who take them lightly pay for it.
- Shoot the puck – This key is pretty straightforward. Last game, the Kraken passed up multiple opportunities to shoot the puck from dangerous positions in the offensive zone (looking at you, Alex Wennberg). The Kraken don’t have a 40-goal scorer to carry the offensive load like other teams do. Given the way the team is built, Seattle’s forwards need to embrace more of a shooting mentality. Against Chicago’s often porous defense, it’s a must tonight.
Did You Know…
For today’s memory, I want to go back long before the Blackhawks 2010-15 dynasty years to share what is perhaps the greatest “instant karma” moment in hockey history. During a 2001 game in Colorado, the hockey gods provided a fan who heckled the Blackhawks’ Steve Sullivan with a taste of his own medicine.
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!