After a hard-fought 4-3 shootout loss in Detroit, the Kraken return to Seattle to face the top team in the Pacific Division. There will be a lot of questions about the Kraken’s lineup heading into tonight’s game with several key players missing last game due to injury. One or more of those players returning tonight would greatly benefit the Kraken against a very skilled Oilers team.
Opponent Spotlight – Edmonton Oilers
Like the Kraken, the Oilers are also dealing with some key injuries, particularly on defense. They’ll be without a trio of regulars on the blueline in Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith, and Slater Koekkoek. Being banged up hasn’t slowed Edmonton, though. They’ve won three in a row and five of their last six.
As always, the focal point for the Oilers is their pair of superstar forwards, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They rank 1-2 in league scoring and can dominate against even the best of defensive units. The Oilers chose to deploy them on the same line when they faced the Kraken back in November. Keep an eye on what Oilers coach Dave Tippett decides to do tonight. It may be tempting to break them up since the Oilers, being the road team, won’t have last change.
- Weather the storm – As mentioned, the Oilers’ duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid can be dominant when playing together. The last time these two teams met, their line created some situations in the offensive zone that looked downright unfair, as Kraken defenders struggled to keep up. When the Oilers’ superstars have those shifts tonight, the Kraken need to focus on keeping the play to the outside and breaking the puck out of the zone cleanly. No need to be a hero trying something fancy in your own zone. Just live to fight another shift.
- Stay out of the box – What happens when you take McDavid and Draisaitl, add three more skilled players, and give them a man advantage? They score. A lot. The Oilers have the best powerplay in the NHL, which has converted at a mind-boggling 35.9% clip this season. Limiting the Oilers’ powerplay opportunities will be key to winning this game. If the Kraken get into penalty trouble, things can get out of hand quickly.
- Body up – In November, the Kraken seemed to focus their gameplan on shutting down Connor McDavid, which they did successfully. Carson Soucy drew into the lineup and used his size to slow down the fastest player in the NHL. With the Kraken running a D pair of Soucy and Jamie Oleksiak the last few games, they have the chance to throw some serious size and physicality at McDavid and Draisaitl tonight.
Did You Know…
The Oilers have a rich history of high-profile victories, but today I want to revisit a memory from what was otherwise an ordinary regular season game in January 2013. With time winding down in the third period, Nail Yakupov scored the game-tying goal by batting a puck out of mid-air with under five seconds left on the clock. What followed was one of the more epic, possibly over-the-top celebrations in regular season history. Yakupov, who has since gone down as one of the biggest draft busts in recent history, was criticized by some in the hockey media at the time for overdoing the celebration. Whatever you think about it, I still strongly associate this moment with the Oilers nearly nine years later. (The Oilers won 2-1 in overtime, making the celebration look a little less silly)
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!