Following a 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Kraken head into their second game in a stretch of difficult opponents that will take them through the end of next week. With Seattle’s losing streak now sitting at six games, the players and coaches have heard all the tough questions and given what answers they can. At the end of the day, the Kraken just need win.
Opponent Spotlight – Washington Capitals
On paper, the Capitals may be the toughest opponent the Kraken have faced this season. They sit third in the NHL standings and have won six of their last seven games, including a 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks last night. Washington’s offense is led by perhaps the greatest goal scorer the game has ever seen, Alex Ovechkin. Even at age 36, he’s showed no signs of slowing down. His 14 goals in 18 games are tied for second in the NHL and he remains one of the most dangerous players in the league on the powerplay.
Goalie Ilya Samsonov had the 22-save shutout against San Jose, which likely means the Kraken will face the Caps’ other goalie, Vitek Vanecek, tonight. Kraken fans will remember that Seattle selected Vanecek from the Capitals in the expansion draft this July, only to trade him back to D.C. a week later after the Philipp Grubauer signing.
Vanecek isn’t the only Capitals player with local ties. Washington-born T.J. Oshie made his return to the Caps lineup last night after missing three weeks with a lower-body injury. Tonight, he’ll be set to play his first NHL game in the state where he was born.
- Take advantage of fresh legs – The Kraken took the day off yesterday, cancelling practice shortly after their loss to Colorado. Meanwhile, the Capitals played a game last night before taking a late flight from San Jose to Seattle. The Kraken are in the fifth game of a homestand. The Caps are on the fourth and final game of a road trip. There should be no question as to which team is fresher. Washington may be the more skilled team, but the Kraken have the opportunity to outwork them in the second and third periods, using the fatigue difference to level the playing field.
- Physical forecheck – One way the Kraken can take advantage of the Capitals’ fatigue is by having a physical forecheck. When you’re a tired defenseman, having forwards finish their checks on you adds up over the course of a game. Colin Blackwell talked about the importance of a physical forecheck disrupting the opponent’s defense after the last game: “Teams that have some really good D that play some big minutes, if you you can just lay the body on them, it makes their night a little bit harder.”
- Get a save – Yes, this was my third key last game. I’m keeping it here until it happens. Whether it’s Philipp Grubauer or Chris Driedger in net, the Kraken need some timely saves. You can’t beat a team like the Capitals without them.
Did You Know…
Any Capitals memory of the last 15 years has to involve Alex Ovechkin. One of the defining aspects of Ovechkin’s career has been his rivalry with Penguins center Sidney Crosby, another generational talent who came into the NHL in the same year. Today, we’ll look back at this game from the first round of the 2009 playoffs when their rivalry was at its peak. Game 2 of that Washington-Pittsburgh series was an all-time classic. Both Crosby and Ovechkin had dueling hat tricks, but Ovi came out on top in a 4-3 Capitals win. It’s still one of the most exciting, back-and-forth hockey games I’ve ever seen.
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!