Gameday Morning Brief – 2/14 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

After a dramatic win over the Anaheim Ducks and a successful Super Skills Showcase, the Kraken will try to keep the good vibes going tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. While Seattle hasn’t fully returned to the type of disciplined defensive play that gave them a successful road trip pre-All-Star break, it was encouraging to see them be able to pull out a win without it. They’ll need to tighten up a bit more though, facing a talented Leafs team. Keeping everything on a positive note will be important as the Kraken will head out on a 3-game Canadian road trip later this week.

Opponent Spotlight – Toronto Maple Leafs

The most noticeable characteristic of this Maple Leafs team is its abundance of high-end skill. Whether it’s through Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, or William Nylander, the Leafs can produce offensively at any time. While their ability to adjust to a playoff-style game when needed has been questioned for years, nobody doubts the Leafs’ regular season abilities. They boast the NHL’s fifth-best goal differential, top-ranked powerplay and fifth-ranked penalty kill.

Keep an eye on Leafs’ center Auston Matthews. He has an incredible 25 goals in his last 24 games and is a top-3 forward in the NHL. Watch Matthews’ quick release when shooting the puck and his ability to quickly change the angle of attack right before letting a shot go. It’s something Matthews does better than anyone and is the reason he has perhaps the most deceptive and hard to stop shot in the league.

Three Keys

  1. Pick up where you left off – The Kraken started their last game with plenty of sloppiness, giving up several high quality chances in the first period. However, they eventually found their game and limited the Ducks to one shot on goal over the final 13 minutes. That’s an impressive defensive effort, but the Kraken can’t afford to wait 47 minutes to figure things out against Toronto. That focus and discipline needs to carry over from the start.
  2. Stay out of the box – Seattle is not positioned well in the special teams battle tonight. The Maple Leafs have the league’s top-ranked powerplay, converting at a remarkable 30.5% clip. They have too many weapons to effectively cover. When that’s the case, the best way to combat an elite powerplay is to stay out of the box altogether. No unnecessary penalties.
  3. East-West passes – The East-West element doesn’t just refer to these teams’ conferences. Moving the puck side to side in the offensive zone opened up a number of dangerous chances for the Kraken last game, including the Dunn and Eberle goals. Making those cross-ice passes added another dimension to the Seattle offense, one they’ll want to keep tonight.

Did You Know…

While fans tend to get most excited by a pretty goal or a big hit, I’ve always thought that killing a 5-on-3 powerplay is one of the most exciting and energizing things a team can do. Often it’s led by a lot of shot-blocking as the fan energy builds, followed by a frantic one-man effort to finally clear the puck. When I think of the Maple Leafs, I remember this shift from a 2011 game against the Carolina Hurricanes where Toronto’s Tim Brent delivered one of the greatest PK shifts I’ve ever seen.

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!

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