After an 0-3-0 road trip capped off by a lackluster effort in Vancouver last night, the Kraken return to Climate Pledge Arena for the second half of a back-to-back. They’ll face the New York Islanders, who they shut out less than three weeks ago. After that 3-0 win, it seemed like the Kraken had finally turned a corner and found an identity as a disciplined, defensively-focused team. While that identity has been lost completely in the time since, perhaps another game against the Islanders will help get the Kraken back on track.
Opponent Spotlight – New York Islanders
As detailed in the morning brief before the February 2nd Kraken-Islanders game, the Isles have been searching for offense all year. As Seattle’s 3-0 shutout on the Island showed, those struggles have persisted. The Isles are 2-3-1 since that game.
I highlighted him in the last Islanders morning brief, but it’s always worth keeping an eye on former Seattle Thunderbird Mat Barzal. He’s a true offensive threat on a team that’s been severely lacking in that regard.
- Clear the net front – One of the Kraken’s biggest failures last night was their inability to clear opposing forwards out from in front of the net. The Canucks scored three of their goals off plays where a forward was left unmarked or untouched in the slot. The Islanders don’t have a lot of dynamic offensive players, but they do have plenty of forwards who are willing to drive to the net. Seattle’s defensemen will need to do a better job of tying them up and protecting the area right in front of Grubauer.
- Let Grubauer see – When Grubauer shut out the Islanders earlier this month, one thing that stood out was how manageable everything was made for him. Grubauer was able to track pucks with clear sight lines and didn’t have to deal with much traffic in front of him. That’s the blueprint the Kraken need to follow tonight. Clear screening forwards out of the way and let Gru see the puck.
- Forecheck with purpose – In the first period last night, the Kraken leaned heavily on the dump-and-chase tactic. While unpopular with many fans, it can be effective if you send the puck into the right spots in the opponent’s zone and bring a lot of energy and physicality in trying to retrieve it. Seattle did just that in the first last night and kept the Canucks on their heels. That energy and purpose on the forecheck inexplicably disappeared at first intermission last night, but the Kraken need to rediscover it tonight.
Did You Know…
On March 18th, 2008, Islanders defenseman Rob Davison scored a goal from nearly the full length of the ice. Now, goals from that great a distance aren’t that uncommon. Kraken fans will remember Jamie Oleksiak’s near 200-foot empty netter earlier this season. What made Davison’s goal memorable is the fact that there was a goalie in the other net. Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala saw the puck the whole way, but fell victim to a slightly higher than expected bounce off the ice as the shot went by his glove. The clip has been a staple of goaltending blooper reels since and the goal remains the last of Davison’s three career NHL goals.
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!