Tonight, the Kraken head into the third game of perhaps their most difficult stretch of matchups this season. One important difference from the previous games is the Kraken are now armed with the confidence of a convincing 4-2 win against the Washington Capitals on Sunday. Kraken players said during the losing streak that it would just take one win to get the good play to snowball and build a winning streak. This is their chance to keep things rolling heading into a four-game post-Thanksgiving road trip.
Opponent Spotlight – Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are the top team in the NHL. Their 14-2-1 record has them sitting atop the league standings and their 34 goals allowed this season is the fewest in the NHL (The Kraken have allowed twice as many goals, 68, for comparison). With a record like that, the Hurricanes may appear to be unstoppable. But a recent loss may provide some hope for the Kraken.
Like Seattle’s last opponent, the Hurricanes are nearing the end of a long western road trip. Signs of fatigue may have already started to show for Carolina during their last game against the San Jose Sharks on Monday. The skill discrepancy between the Hurricanes and their opponent was clear, but the Sharks made the Canes work for every scoring opportunity, taking advantage of tired legs and outshooting Carolina 13-6 during the third period and overtime. The Sharks won 2-1 in overtime, meaning despite only losing three games all season, the Canes will be coming into Seattle off a loss.
Given the numerous Kraken-Hurricanes connections, there will be no shortage of storylines for tonight’s game. Current members of the Kraken organization who spent time in Carolina include GM Ron Francis, Assistant GM Ricky Olczyk, Director of Amateur Scouting Robert Kron, broadcaster John Forslund, and players Morgan Geekie and Haydn Fleury. The Canes also have a pair of players with recent Pacific Northwest junior connections in former Portland Winterhawk Seth Jarvis and former Seattle Thunderbird Ethan Bear. (Ethan Bear won’t play tonight as he’s in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.)
- Make them skate – As mentioned, the Canes are nearing the end of a long road trip. The Kraken can take advantage of their extended time at home by using quick transition play to force a tired Hurricanes team to skate extra in the second and third periods. It’s a blueprint that worked in Seattle’s last game against the Avalanche and could be their biggest key to a win tonight.
- Make the powerplay a weapon – In their last three games, the Kraken’s powerplay has gone from a weakness to a strength. Seattle has now scored on four of its last six attempts with the extra man. If the Kraken follow other teams’ example for how to beat the Canes, they could be in for a close, low-scoring game. Each of Carolina’s last two losses has been by a 2-1 score. In those kind of games, a powerplay goal can be the difference between winning and losing.
- Block shots – Seattle blocked 12 shots on Sunday, many of them at key times when defending the lead. Shot blocking hadn’t really been a part of the Kraken’s identity before that, as highlighted by Philipp Grubauer: “I think that’s one of the first games we actually got in shooting lanes and blocked some shots.” But all three players who spoke after the game highlighted the importance of blocking shots in helping keep a lead and lightening the load on their goalie. It’s an element of their game the Kraken would be wise to continue.
Did You Know…
One of the odder quirks of the NHL is the existence of the emergency backup goalie, or EBUG. Each arena must have an emergency backup goalie on site for the eventuality that both goalies on a given team become unable to play. If that were to happen, the EBUG, usually a goalie with some college or junior hockey experience, steps in to finish the game. This is an extremely rare occurrence, but it did happen on February 22nd, 2020 when both Hurricanes goalies were injured and unable to return during a game in Toronto. David Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver, stepped in to play the final period and a half for Carolina. What followed was one of the most incredible stories in NHL history.
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!