After a disappointing home loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the Kraken travel to Southern California for a quick one-game road trip. Their goal will be to rediscover their pre All-Star break style of play which led them to a successful East Coast road swing. Coach Dave Hakstol admitted there was a lot of rust in Seattle’s last game on Wednesday. Perhaps another day of practice and going back on the road will shake off the last of it.
Opponent Spotlight – Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks currently sit fourth place in the Pacific Division, right in the middle of a crowded Western Conference playoff race. Their surprisingly successful season has been driven by young players like Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, and Jamie Drysdale, stepping up to fill important roles. Special teams has been a particular area of strength for Anaheim, as they have the league’s 7th-ranked powerplay and penalty kill. Having played two days ago, the Kraken will be on the other side of the rest vs. rust equation tonight. This will be the Ducks’ first game in the month of February, after a 10-day layoff leading into the All-Star break. The break may have been unwelcome for Anaheim, as they were on a six-game point streak, rolling through an Eastern Conference road trip.
As for which player on the Ducks to spotlight, the choice is easy. Keep an eye on Trevor Zegras, who is quickly becoming one of the faces of the NHL. His highlight reel moves have brought a new level of popularity to the sport and he’s single-handedly made hockey clips go viral on multiple occasions this season. You never know what magic you might see when he’s on the ice.
- Limit D-zone turnovers – The Kraken have been plagued by defensive zone turnovers all season. Countless times, ill-advised passes find their way onto opponents’ sticks and into Seattle’s net. On their recent road trip, the Kraken seemed to have finally shaken that problem for good, only to have it reappear in a big way on Wednesday. No X’s and O’s involved in fixing this one. It’s just a matter of focus and discipline.
- Player movement on PP – Seattle’s powerplay continued its cold streak on Wednesday and is now 2 for its last 35 attempts. Overall, it looked stagnant and predictable. However, there was an exception on the Kraken’s first powerplay, where they had players rotating into different positions as the puck was cycled around, which caught the Coyotes off guard. I asked Hakstol about that player movement after the game and if it was something the Kraken might want to do more consistently. Hakstol pushed back, saying it wasn’t by design. But with the powerplay’s recent struggles, maybe it’s something the team should look into.
- Focus on their stars – This was a key for last game, as I warned that Arizona’s pair of star players could do damage if the Kraken didn’t make a concerted effort to keep them in check. While the Kraken did a good job shutting down Clayton Keller, Phil Kessel terrorized the Kraken defense, picking up two points and drawing a penalty. The Kraken will have a similar task on their hands tonight with Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras.
Did You Know…
You can always count on Bryz to put things in perspective. In a 2007 interview prior to a Ducks-Oilers game, then-Ducks goalie Ilya Bryzgalov gave the hockey world one of its best ever quotes: “Why you have to be mad? It’s only game.” Bryzgalov had been asked about Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger’s return to Edmonton. Some fans in Edmonton were upset with the ex-Oiler Pronger for wanting to ditch the Edmonton cold for the Southern California sunshine. That line soon became a meme online as hockey fans got to know the Russian goalie’s fun and eccentric personality.
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!