After the Kraken’s last three games were postponed by the NHL, The Kraken found themselves with an unexpected full week of practice time. Dave Hakstol set the tone with a strong message about how the Kraken’s practices need to change: “If I can be blunt, the competitiveness of our practice has to increase.” The team rose to the challenge with some long, high-intensity practices. We’ll see if that compete level can transfer into games going forward.
Opponent Spotlight – Colorado Avalanche
After a rough start to their season, the Colorado Avalanche are coming into form as the juggernaut many people figured they would be. The Avs have won nine of their last 10 games and haven’t lost a game at home in over two months. Colorado is loaded with talent at all positions, with six players at over a point per game pace.
It’s hard to pick only two Avalanche players to keep an eye on but I’ll go with Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon. Makar had two goals when the Avs and Kraken met in November and is doing things offensively few defensemen have ever done. MacKinnon wasn’t in the lineup for Colorado’s last game against Seattle but he’ll present a new challenge for a Kraken team that has had mixed results against superstar forwards.
- Clean neutral zone play – One major point of emphasis for the Kraken in this week of practice was neutral zone play, particularly some new looks when moving the puck through the neutral zone. Executing them cleanly will be key against Colorado, as the Avs are a team that can burn you in transition after a sloppy attempt to enter the offensive zone.
- Wingers shadow Makar – Cale Makar is shooting at a 19.5% clip this season, which is mind-blowing from a defenseman. He’s taking shots from the traditional areas for a defenseman, but scoring at the rate of some of the best forwards in the game. The Kraken have to limit his time and space in the offensive zone as much as possible. The way to do that his have a winger shadow him at all times while in the zone, not allowing him to have space to work with the puck. Of course, against a player as talented as Makar, that’s more easily said than done.
- Use defensive size against MacKinnon – Nathan MacKinnon has a combination of speed and skill rivaled only by the likes of Connor McDavid. The Kraken had stretches of success against McDavid when they used their larger defensemen like Jamie Oleksiak and Carson Soucy to slow him down with physical play along the boards. They’d be wise to follow that blueprint against MacKinnon.
Did You Know…
In 2010, The Avalanche won game 3 of their first round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks on one of the strangest overtime game-winning goals you’ll ever see. Colorado was outshot 50-16 in regulation, but hung on to force overtime. Less than a minute in, San Jose’s Dan Boyle unintentionally beat his own goalie by the near side post for the game’s only goal. Boyle would redeem himself in Game 4, scoring the first goal in a Sharks win.
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!