After a 4-1 loss in St. Louis, the Kraken travel to Chicago for the second half of their Central Division back-to-back. The Kraken had some positive aspects to their game yesterday, but ultimately succumbed to a more skilled team. They shouldn’t have that issue tonight, as the Blackhawks are a beatable opponent. If the Kraken can sort out the details of their own game, a win is there for the taking.
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Opponent Spotlight – Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks sold off heavily at the trade deadline and have begun their descent into the basement of the NHL standings. The Hawks have lost five games in a row, including their most recent loss to the lowly Arizona Coyotes.
The biggest difference the Kraken will see from their previous games against Chicago is the departure of Marc-Andre Fleury, who was traded to Minnesota at the trade deadline. Fleury started both of Chicago’s games against the Kraken earlier this season. He stole one game with a 31-save performance and nearly stole the other with 35 saves in a shootout loss on MLK Day. The Blackhawks don’t have a goalie anywhere near Fleury’s caliber on the roster now and new starter Kevin Lankinen has the second-worst goals saved above expected of any NHL goalie this season (ahead of only Philipp Grubauer).
- Stay out of the box – This was the biggest issue for the Kraken last night. Chicago’s powerplay isn’t as dangerous as St. Louis’, but a bounce-back game from a discipline standpoint will be good for the team going forward as it tries to solidify its identity.
- Shots on net – As mentioned before, Kevin Lankinen is among the worst goalies in the NHL this season. Test him at every opportunity. The Kraken passed up shooting opportunities on odd-man rushes last night (looking at you, Yanni Gourde), which isn’t wise against a goalie like Lankinen.
- Kane line – Despite all Chicago’s struggles this season, their top line of Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Dylan Strome has been as dangerous as any trio in the league. Keeping them to the outside and away from dangerous shooting positions will be crucial, especially after DeBrincat has demonstrated an ability to pick his spots on Grubauer earlier this season.
Did You Know…
If you didn’t get your fill yesterday, I give you more Marty Turco bench antics! Turco kept busy while serving as the Blackhawks’ backup goalie in 2010-11. Here he is subtly expressing his thoughts about eccentric TV broadcaster Pierre McGuire:
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!