After a deflating 5-0 loss on home ice to the St. Louis Blues, the Kraken take on the red-hot Florida Panthers. The Blues were a tough matchup, but the difficulty factor will be cranked up to another level as Seattle faces the NHL’s top team. With this game being the Kraken’s third in four days, fatigue can start to become an issue. But perhaps playing a team they’ve beaten before will give Seattle some extra confidence and energy heading into tonight’s matchup.
Opponent Spotlight – Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers are a powerhouse, sitting atop the NHL standings with 61 points. They’ve Won 10 of their last 12 games and have a 14-4-2 record since the Kraken beat them in Sunrise in late November. Much of that success has been driven by their offense. The Panthers have scored a remarkable 165 goals this season, most in the NHL. For comparison, the Kraken have scored 104. Their middle-of-the-road special teams (13th PP and 14th PK) highlight just how much damage they can do at even strength.
Florida has so many dynamic offensive contributors (The Panthers have seven 10+ goal scorers to Seattle’s two) that it’s hard to pick only one to focus on. But keep an eye on Jonathan Huberdeau. He’s a smooth skater and excellent distributor of the puck. His 40 assists this season rank first in the NHL.
- Bend but don’t break defense – When the Kraken beat the Panthers in November, Florida had a lot of offensive zone time. But the Kraken made sure that it didn’t translate into high-danger chances. That meant forcing the play to the outside, blocking shots, and managing their defensive assignments. It takes discipline, but it’s a proven formula to beat this skilled Florida team.
- Strong start – Last game, the Kraken fell behind 2-0 early. After the game, Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle, and Dave Hakstol all brought up how difficult it is to play from behind. You’re forced to be more aggressive, making yourself vulnerable to counterattacks. If the Kraken fall into that kind of early hole, the Panthers can make them pay to the tune of nine goals, as they’ve done to opponents twice in the last month.
- Net-front presence – The Kraken only generated 0.69 expected goals at 5-on-5 last game. Looking at that figure, it’s no surprise they were shut out. Seattle had plenty of shots on goal, but they mostly came from the perimeter without players being in spots to collect rebounds. They’ll need to make more of an effort to get to the dangerous areas tonight.
Did You Know…
Did you know the 2015 NHL Draft was held at the Panthers arena in Sunrise, Florida? If you’re a longtime listener of our The Deep Dive podcast, you probably do, as Dylan and I have countless stories from attending the draft that year. Here are a couple photos from that draft day in Florida. The first is Dylan and I in front of the welcome sign and the second is me with a photo of current Florida Panther Joe Thornton. If you had told me that day that a 42-year-old Thornton would be playing for the Panthers one day, I certainly wouldn’t have believed it.
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!