Gameday Morning Brief – 12/11 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

After getting shut out by the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the Kraken face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the final game of this homestand. Frustration has started to set in a bit for a Kraken team that’s scored only one goal in its last 124 minutes of game time. Tonight’s game is an important step towards ensuring this rough patch doesn’t become another long losing streak like the team had in November.

Opponent Spotlight – Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets are a middle-of-the-pack team in many respects. They’re in the middle third of the NHL in points, goals, goals against, powerplay percentage, and penalty kill percentage. They score by committee and have strong goaltending to back it up. Although they’re in the midst of a mini-rebuild, this hard-working Columbus team is almost always a tough out for opponents.

Fans of Expansion Draft what-ifs will have a few players to watch in this game. Seattle selected Gavin Bayreuther from Columbus in the expansion draft, but never signed him to a contract extension. He singed with Columbus as a UFA a week later. Bayreuther has played 14 games for the Jackets this season. Another exposed option, Max Domi, has 11 points in 15 games. Columbus defenseman Jake Bean was widely projected to be the Kraken’s pick from the Carolina Hurricanes. Instead, Seattle took Morgan Geekie, while Carolina shipped Bean to Columbus for a 2nd round pick.

Three Keys

  1. Powerplay – Mark this one under “it stays here until it gets fixed.” After going 0-for-5 against the Jets on Thursday, coach Hakstol admitted the powerplay wasn’t good enough, but said they’d have to take a look at the film to see exactly what the issue was. They’ll need to identify the problems and address them to have success tonight.
  2. Start strong – The Kraken had a bad habit of starting games flat at home earlier in the season. That problem seems to be rearing its ugly head again. Each of the last two games, the Kraken never gave the crowd a real chance to become a factor after falling behind early. Time to use the home crowd to their advantage before going on the road next week.
  3. Simplify on D – Before the last two games, it appeared that the kind of defensive breakdowns that characterized the Kraken during their 6-game losing streak were a thing of the past. However due to a combination of trying to do too much and playing from behind, the breakdowns are back. Seattle’s defensemen need to simplify what they’re doing in their own zone, know their assignments, and make the safe play out of the zone.

Did You Know…

Rick Nash is a Columbus Blue Jackets legend. Almost a decade after he last played for Columbus, he remains the franchise leader in goals, assists, and points. He was a joy to watch in his prime as one of the best power forwards of his generation. He put all his skills on display for this incredible goal in 2008 against the Phoenix Coyotes, one of the best 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!

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