After splitting a very difficult Florida back-to-back, The Kraken head to Buffalo for their second and final meeting with the Sabres this season. The Kraken are coming off their most impressive run of play this season, having beaten three of the NHL’s top four teams in the past week. They’ll look to keep things rolling tonight against what should be an easier opponent.
Opponent Spotlight – Buffalo Sabres
It looks like the Sabres are who we thought they were. Buffalo surprised many with an impressive 5-1-1 start to the season, but the magic has worn off. Since the Kraken last saw them in Seattle in early November, the Sabres have lost eight of 11 games, dropping to 25th in the NHL standings. While the Sabres’ effort this season has been admirable, you can’t escape the reality of nightly talent mismatches forever.
One Sabres player to watch is Tage Thompson. The 6’7 center leads the Sabres in goals (10) and points (15). As a 2016, first round pick, he’s taken a while to fully develop. But it seems like he’s finally putting all the tools together this season. Thompson scored the Sabres’ first goal against the Kraken during the teams’ first meeting and will be a threat to do it again tonight.
- Keep the intensity level – An alternate title to this key could be “don’t play down to your opponent.” The Kraken just played the four top teams in the NHL standings. Anyone who watched those games could see they were motivated by the challenge. After a challenging but successful stretch like that, it’s easy to become complacent and take your foot off the gas a bit. Seattle can’t afford to do that, as they learned earlier this season in Arizona.
- Bend but don’t break defense – The Kraken have spent a lot of time in their own zone the last four games, but it hasn’t resulted in many goals against. That’s because they’re doing a good job forcing the play to the outside, blocking shots, and managing their defensive assignments. It takes discipline, but if the Kraken can keep it up, it bodes well for their chances tonight.
- Shots on net – The Sabres have allowed 5+ goals in eight of their last 13 games. Their goaltending, which started the year very strong, has cooled down significantly. The Kraken should look to be opportunistic when in the offensive zone, putting the puck on net as often as possible.
Did You Know…
Washington hockey fans might remember Sabres goalie Dustin Tokarski from his three year junior career with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. Tokarski was one of the smaller goalies in the league but made up for it with tremendous reflexes and athleticism. He saved some of his best hockey for the 2008 Memorial Cup, where he made 53 saves in the final game and was named tournament MVP.
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!