After a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday, the Kraken head south to Sunrise to take on the Panthers, looking to earn a split in a very difficult set of Florida back-to-backs.
Opponent Spotlight – Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers have been an unstoppable force at home this season. They have a perfect 11-0-0 home record, which is tied for the most consecutive home wins to start a season in NHL history. That means they’ll be looking to make history tonight against the Kraken.
One of the difficulties of facing the Panthers is their balanced attack and lack of a singular player to focus on defending. Florida boasts remarkable scoring depth, with eight different players having scored 6+ goals already this season (the Kraken have three for comparison). That said, the Panthers will be playing without their best forward Aleksander Barkov, who is out with a lower-body injury. On defense, Aaron Ekblad is one of the top blueliners in the NHL and in goal, Sergei Bobrovsky is back in Vezina-caliber form.
- Driedger set the tone early – I’m assuming that after Philipp Grubauer got the start yesterday, Chris Driedger will be given the net against the team he played for last season. Tonight, Driedger will need to do what Grubauer couldn’t against Tampa Bay: make every routine save early in the game. Last night, Grubauer allowed a goal on the first Tampa shot of the game, a very stoppable shot from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. It wasn’t a knockout blow and Grubauer did play well from then on, but the goal shifted momentum Tampa’s way and ultimately stood up as the game winner. The Kraken can’t have that happen again.
- Next man up on D – With Mark Giordano placed in COVID protocol right before yesterday’s game, Haydn Fleury drew into the lineup in his place. Fleury was impressive, especially defensively. After being a scratch the last few games, he was eager to show he belonged in the lineup. From Fleury to Jamie Oleksiak to Vince Dunn, several Kraken defenders all stepped up to help make up for their captain’s absence. With Gio likely missing tonight’s game, they’ll need to do it again.
- Win the stamina battle – The Panthers played in Washington, D.C. last night, which means both teams tonight will be on the second half of back-to-back games. There will be a lot of tired legs on the ice when the third period rolls around. If the Kraken can be the better conditioned team and have more left in the tank, they should have a path to victory.
Did You Know…
Nothing better to set the tone for tonight’s matchup than this commercial the Panthers did for the local news in 2006. If this doesn’t get you fired up for some Florida Panthers hockey, I don’t know what will.
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!