The Kraken return to Climate Pledge Arena tonight after a fast-paced three game, four night road trip. While there were promising elements of every game on the trip, an 0-3-0 record has left the Kraken still in search of answers. Perhaps a new opponent will help. Tonight marks the Kraken’s first ever game against the Los Angeles Kings, the final Pacific Division opponent they’ve yet to play.
Opponent Spotlight – Los Angeles Kings
After two Stanley Cup Wins in 2012 and 2014, the Kings entered a multi-year rebuild in which they collected numerous high draft picks. Now boasting one of the best prospect pools in the NHL, the Kings organization identified this season as the beginning of the team’s window to be competitive again. So far, the Kings have lived up to that goal, sitting third place in the Pacific Division.
While the results have gone according to plan in LA, they’ve gotten there in a way few would’ve anticipated. In net, Jonathan Quick has made an improbable resurgence at age 36, while Cal Petersen, heralded as the team’s goalie of the future before the season, has struggled. Former 2nd overall pick Quinton Byfield, who was supposed to provide formidable center depth, has yet to play a game this season after suffering a fractured ankle in the preseason. In his place, a pair of offseason acquisitions have stepped up to help the Kings forward group. Center Phillip Danault has continued his excellent two-way play after move from Montreal and winger Viktor Arvidsson is on pace for his highest scoring season since 2018.
- Shooting Mentality – The Kings have excelled defensively recently, allowing only three goals in their last three games. None of the Kings’ opponents in that stretch have hit the 30 shot mark. Being opportunistic with shooting opportunities drove much of the Kraken’s offense in their recent road trip. Testing LA’s goalie often will be key to putting goals on the scoreboard.
- Stay out of the box – I’m keeping this key from last game because falling short of it was the team’s undoing last game. The Kraken allowed the Blues five powerplay opportunities, with the game-winning goal coming on the fifth. Unlike the Blues, the Kings have one of the worst powerplays in the NHL. But if you give any team that many opportunities, chances are they’ll make you pay.
- Build off goaltending success – Last game, Chris Driedger had arguably the best game any Kraken goalie has ever played. His ability to keep the Kraken in the game against a very good team showed what’s possible when the Kraken get the kind of goaltending they hoped they would get after signing an expensive goalie tandem last summer. Stringing together a couple strong performances would go a long way for the team’s confidence.
Did You Know…
Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I went to a fair amount of Kings games as a kid. As a result, the Kings are part of some of my earliest hockey memories. One of the first really special games I went to was the Kings final home game of the season on April 15th, 2006. In that game, the Kings honored team legend and Hall of Fame left wing Luc Robitaille in the last home game of his career. The Kings beat the Calgary Flames in a shootout, then had a festive postgame sendoff for their franchise player. Here’s some video of the postgame celebration. Come for the historical significance, stay for the Jeremy Roenick dance moves at the 1:38 mark.
Here’s a couple photos I found from the game. The first is a 10-year-old me wearing a Kings jersey for one of the last times in my life (the Sharks fandom really kicked in shortly after that) and the second is a photo I took of Robitaille after the game, which you can probably tell was taken by a 10-year-old.
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!