Gameday Morning Brief – 12/14 @ San Jose Sharks

After a thrilling but disappointing overtime loss on Saturday, the Kraken begin their first ever California road trip in San Jose. Having now lost three games in a row, the Kraken are in desperate need of a win to turn things around. They can’t afford another prolonged losing streak if they’re going to claw their way back into the Pacific Division playoff race. Reminder that we’ll be doing our first Patreon-exclusive ECH Live Commentary during the game tonight! All patrons in our Watch Party Tier can join us for live reaction and discussion throughout the game with our great community of patrons. If you want to subscribe to our Patreon and get access to ECH Live Commentary and other perks, here’s our Patreon page.

Opponent Spotlight – San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have been one of the Pacific Division’s surprise teams in the first half of the season. They’re light on top-end talent but make up for it with work ethic and good goaltending. Like Seattle’s last couple opponents, the Sharks make you earn everything you get.

At forward, a trio of former first round draft picks provide most of San Jose’s scoring. Timo Meier is a dynamic winger whose mix of size and speed generates a lot of opportunities. Logan Couture, the captain, is a skilled two-way center with elite hockey IQ. Tomas Hertl, the subject of trade speculation, is a big-body power forward who can use his size to be near unstoppable around the net. On defense, the Sharks have a pair of Norris Trophy winners in Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. While neither of them are anywhere near their prime level of play, they’re both big contributors to the Sharks’ blueline, especially Burns, who is the NHL leader in time on ice this season. In goal, the Sharks have a pair of newly-acquired goalies. James Reimer has led the way with 10.92 goals saved above average, 5th in the league.

Three Keys

  1. Sharks Line Revenge Game – I was going to call this key “depth mismatches” but “Sharks Line Revenge Game” sounds more fun. Last game, the Kraken iced a fourth line of Ryan Donato, Alexander True, and Joonas Donskoi, all former Sharks. It appears that line will be sticking together tonight and should see some advantageous matchups. The Sharks lack depth at forward and their current fourth line had a combined one game of NHL experience coming into this season. Donato, True, and Donskoi could feast on that level of competition.
  2. Match their size – The Sharks generate a lot of their offense down low from a pair of big power forwards Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier. Teams that don’t have the size on defense to match up against those two have been burned often this season. Thankfully, the Kraken do have that size. It will be on Oleksiak, Soucy, and Larsson to match Hertl and Meier’s size and respond with physicality.
  3. Goaltending heroics – In the Kraken’s last game, Philipp Grubauer had a subpar performance. He wasn’t terrible, but there were a few missed opportunities for him to make a high quality save to change the momentum of the game. Coach Hakstol even said it would’ve been nice to get a save on one of the last two Columbus goals in the second period. While we don’t yet know who will start tonight, this game will be an opportunity for whoever is in net to provide the spark the Kraken have been missing.

Did You Know…

With the Kraken’s mascot reveal coming in the next two weeks, it seemed fitting to go with a memorable mascot moment and a lesson about the potential pitfalls of mascot stunts. Prior to a 1999 game between the Sharks and Detroit Red Wings, Sharks mascot SJ Sharkie was rappelling from the Arena rafters when his props got stuck in his rope. The game was delayed over 15 minutes while arena crews figured out how to get him down safely. When the Kraken finally have their mascot reveal, maybe keep it firmly on the ground.

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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