After a finish to 2021 that fell short of expectations, the Kraken head into the new year in search of a fresh start. 2021 ended in a frustrating and all too familiar way for the Kraken, with a 6-4 loss to the Calgary Flames in which Seattle allowed a pivotal goal immediately after scoring for the second game in a row. Perhaps the best indication of the team’s current state came from their bewildered captain Mark Giordano after the game when he said he’s “never seen it like this” where the team finds new ways to lose almost every night. When a 16-year NHL veteran like Giordano says that, it’s significant. Perhaps a change of the calendar can bring new life to this Kraken team. It will bring opportunity right away, as they’ll face their red-hot rival Vancouver in a chance to start 2022 the right way.
Opponent Spotlight – Vancouver Canucks
A lot has happened in Vancouver since the Canucks last visited the Kraken on October 23rd. After hitting a low point in their season in early December, the Canucks cleaned house, firing GM Jim Benning and coach Travis Green. A notable part of the announcement was the hiring of a new coach, Bruce Boudreau. The 66-year-old coach became an instant sensation with the Canucks, storming out to seven straight wins after taking over behind the bench.
While Vancouver lost in a shootout on Thursday, they’ve been playing excellent hockey since Boudreau took over. Their defense has tightened up, allowing only 12 goals in eight games. They’ve been scoring timely goals, too. Keep an eye on leading scorer JT Miller, who has quietly transformed himself into a point-per-game player since the Canucks acquired him in 2019.
- Focus – If you’ve watched the last two Kraken games, you know what I mean here. Lack of focus in the biggest moments of the game has been a huge problem for the Kraken recently, and arguably cost them three points in the last two games. As Giordano said, “bottom line is, you’ve gotta bear down in big shifts.”
- Bother Demko – When the Kraken last played Vancouver in Seattle’s home opener, Demko was the difference. The Kraken had the better scoring chances for much of the game but Demko made several remarkable saves to keep his team in position to take the late lead. While Seattle generated shots from high-danger areas, they didn’t do enough to screen Demko and generate rebounds that take the goalie out of the equation. Doing that will be key tonight.
- Impose physicality – One of the bright spots for the Kraken in Thursday’s game was their ability to match the Flames’ physicality. Calgary initiated contact often in the game and the Kraken gave it right back to them. Vancouver is a smaller, less physical team than the Flames. Seattle can try to use their size to impose their will in battles along the boards and in front fo the net.
Did You Know…
Did you know Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau is on Cameo? Boudreau is one of many public figures who have signed up for the online service that lets people hire celebrities to create personalized short videos. As Boudreau quickly became a hero among Canucks fans following his 7-0 start with the team, they found his cameo page, which led to some incredible video messages from the Canucks coach.
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!