After a disappointing effort in Anaheim on Wednesday, the Kraken return home to face toe Edmonton Oilers for the third time this season. The game comes in the midst of rising uncertainty around the NHL due to recent COVID-19 outbreaks. Several teams have already had their games postponed until Christmas, including the Calgary Flames, whose December 23rd game vs. the Kraken in Calgary will have to be made up at a later date. Despite the outside noise around the league, the Kraken will have to focus on the task at hand and bring their best effort to beat a talented Oilers team.
Opponent Spotlight – Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers enter tonight having lost six of their last seven games and having fallen from the top of the Pacific Division to the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
In previous Gameday Morning Briefs, we’ve talked about the Oilers’ pair of superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. There’s only so much you can say about them without getting repetitive. That said, beyond the star power at the top of the Oilers’ lineup, there really isn’t much depth. The Oilers’ bottom-6 forwards went almost a month without scoring a goal before Colton Sceviour scored three days ago. A number of key absences also leave the Oilers notably thin on defense.
Like many teams in the NHL, the Oilers have COVID-19 issues. Head coach Dave Tippett and players Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Duncan Keith, Devin Shore, and Ryan McLeod are all in COVID protocol and will not be available for the Oilers tonight.
- Depth Mismatches – As mentioned in the opponent spotlight, the Oilers lack forward depth. If you can survive shifts against the McDavid and Draisaitl lines, mismatches can be found just about everywhere else. The Kraken’s group of depth forwards, led by Ryan Donato and Joonas Donskoi, have been a primary source of scoring over the last two games. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep that going against an inferior Edmonton bottom-6.
- Stay out of the box – This key pops up every game against the Oilers but that doesn’t make it any less important. The Oilers have the top powerplay in the NHL at 31.5%. The Oilers have scored a powerplay goal in each of their two prior meetings with the Kraken. Taking unnecessary penalties is playing with fire.
- Build Driedger’s confidence – As I’m writing this, I don’t know which goalie will start tonight. But I have a hunch it’ll be Chris Driedger. Philipp Grubauer got a little banged up in the Kraken’s last game and it might be best to give him another day of rest. Meanwhile, Driedger looked confident and dialed in in yesterday’s practice. Getting the start tonight would give Driedger an opportunity to demonstrate that he can be relied upon to take over until Grubauer fixes the issues with his game. Driedger rising to the challenge could set the tone for the team going forward.
Did You Know…
I’ve been waiting to share this one with you. Today’s Oilers memory involves some of my favorite morning skate shenanigans ever. On April 1st, 2010 (notice the date), the Oilers made a revolutionary tactical decision. They announced plans to move goalie Devan Dubnyk (now playing for the Kraken’s AHL affiliate in Charlotte) to forward. Center Ryan Potulny would replace Dubnyk in net. As you can see from the video, players were very supportive of the move.
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!