With their losing streak now at five games, the Kraken are in search of something that will change the pattern they’ve found themselves in. The games in this losing streak have seemed to follow a similar script, with Seattle outchancing opponents but getting nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. Meanwhile the occasional defensive breakdown always seems to end up in their net. That was the story in Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, which many viewed as especially winnable. Seattle’s opposition will get tougher now. Tonight, the Kraken will play their first of five straight games against teams who made the playoffs last year. When getting out of a long losing streak, it’s all about getting that first win to build confidence. Beating a skilled team like Colorado could be the confidence boost the Kraken need to start a run of success they can build from.
Opponent Spotlight – Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are a very skilled team. They have players up and down the lineup who can dazzle with their ability to make plays. The Avs were ravaged by injuries early in the season, leading to an uncharacteristically slow 4-5-1 start. Colorado isn’t at full strength yet, still without their best player Nathan MacKinnon. But they’re getting healthier and the return of Devon Toews and Valeri Nichushkin have provided a big boost for their lineup. Those additions have led the Avs to heat up of late, meaning that for the second game in a row, the Kraken will face a team on a three-game win streak.
At forward, Nazem Kadri, who has 11 points in his last five games, has stepped up to fill the scoring void left by MacKinnon’s absence. He’s a well-rounded center who can play with an edge while putting up first line offensive numbers when he gets hot. On defense, the Avs have a three-headed monster of Cale Makar, Toews, and Sam Girard that few teams can rival. All three are capable of jumping into the rush and creating offensively when they get the puck, something the Kraken will need to be mindful of.
- Score first – In each game of this homestand, the Kraken have allowed the first goal of the game and found themselves trailing after the first period. In previous games, I’ve had “start strong” as a key but at this point, the Kraken need the first goal of the game, regardless of how it comes. Dave Hakstol has mentioned repeatedly how difficult it is to play from behind. Scoring the first goal at home would help get the crowd into the game early in a way they haven’t been so far in this homestand.
- Reduce odd-man rushes – Coach Hakstol identified “outnumbered rushes” against as an area where the team could improve defensively, saying that they rank about league average in that category. The Kraken were burned on odd-man rushes for both their first and third goals against on Wednesday. Against an Avalanche team that can bring a lot of speed in transition, preventing odd-man rushes will be especially important.
- Get a save – This key is perhaps overly simplistic, but important nonetheless. At some point in the game, the Kraken goalie, whether it’s Philipp Grubauer or Chris Driedger, will be called upon to make a momentum-swinging save. When that happens, he has to make the save. Simple as that. The Kraken rank in the top half of the league in just about every category of shot and scoring chance suppression. The players and coaches have maintained that they’re doing well enough defensively. That means the goalies need to step up. Today would be a good time to do it.
Did You Know…
Pulling the goalie late in a game to generate more offense has been a popular discussion topic in Kraken circles recently. But how about a goalie skating up the ice himself trying to advance the puck? Down three goals with only a few minutes left in the 3rd period of a 1997 game vs. the New York Rangers, that’s exactly what Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy did. Roy confidently skated all the way to the red line before being assessed a penalty for playing the puck beyond center ice, which goalies aren’t allowed to do. He even deked around the greatest to ever play the game, Wayne Gretzky, in the process. How many goalies can say they’ve done that?
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!