It hasn’t been an easy season for Kraken fans. The Kraken failed to live up to expectations on the ice and COVID’s resurgence mid-season meant that the team couldn’t engage in in-person fan outreach as much as they would’ve liked. But even with the difficult season, one thing that never changed is the energy, love, and support that Kraken fans have shown for their team. Tonight, the players and coaches have an opportunity to give a proper finale to a fan base that’s stuck by them through thick and thin. Yes, it’s the Kraken’s first-ever Fan Appreciation Night.
If you’re going to the game, the team is planning a number of special giveaways and events including a “joint salmon toss,” “jersey off our backs,” and some cool Anchor Auction items. The team will also give out four inaugural season awards, which will be announced post-game on the ice.
Opponent Spotlight – San Jose Sharks
As I’ve covered in past Morning Briefs, the Sharks are finishing up yet another season in hockey purgatory. Nowhere near good enough to make the playoffs, yet not bad enough to draft a franchise-changing player in the top-10. Even with a new general manager coming this offseason, it appears the mandate from ownership is to avoid a rebuild. If so, that would confirm that the organizational delusion goes all the way to the top. Sharks fans will have a rough several years ahead.
That said, the Sharks did experience the highlight of their season on Sunday, beating the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in a shootout after trailing by two goals with two minutes to go. Before the game, Sharks winger Timo Meier called it the “biggest game of the year” and he certainly delivered on the hype, scoring the tying goal with under one second left in regulation. That win put some fuel back into a Vegas-San Jose rivalry that had gone cold after Vegas won 11 straight meetings.
- Defend your net – Dave Hakstol pointed to this area as the primary issue for the Kraken last game. He said “the heaviness and hardness of our coverage down low was soft…sporadically we were really good and sporadically we were very poor.” I completely agree. Seattle left opposing players wide open untouched in front of their own net and it cost them the game. That has to change to beat an team.
- Powerplay – I listed this as a key each of the last two games and there’s a good argument to be made that the powerplay was the deciding factor in both games. The Kraken failed to score on a full five minutes of 5-on-3 time over the last two games and were a combined 1/13 with the extra man (or men). If I was Dave Hakstol or Paul McFarland, most of today’s morning skate would be spent working on the powerplay.
- Hertl-Meier line – The Sharks are a top-heavy team offensively. They don’t have many scoring weapons, but their two best forwards are stacked on the same line. The “defend your net” key applies extra when that line is on the ice. It will be interesting to see if the Beniers line is given shutdown duties at any point.
Did You Know…
As we get ready to celebrate the Kraken’s first ever Fan Appreciation night, let’s look back to the Sharks’ 2004 Fan Appreciation Night. The Sharks took their fans for a wild ride, tying the game late after trailing by two goals with 20 seconds to go in regulation. While this video unfortunately doesn’t show the end of the game, San Jose would go on to win in overtime on a Vincent Damphousse goal.
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!