3 essential games | Predators (5-6-1) at Kraken (7-4-2) | 19:22
time: 19:22 PT | I will see: TNT | Listen: 93.3 KJR
One: establish home-ice advantage
Before traveling three time zones to sweep a three-game road trip last week, the veteran forward and alternate captain Jordan Eberle was talking to the media about the Kraken’s 1-3-1 record heading into Saturday’s impressive and crowd-pleasing win over Pittsburgh.
“For us, it’s about trying to win tonight [against the Penguins] about trying to get that home-ice advantage,” said Eberle, who scored his first goal of the season in Pittsburgh’s win a day after his son, Deacon, was born. “We haven’t played particularly well at home . We’ve got to find a way to get some wins here and make this a tough place to come in and win games.”
The six-game homestand (the longest of the 2022-23 hockey calendar) over the next 16 days offers a prime opportunity to establish that home-ice advantage. Seattle’s home record thus far is 2-3-1, but both of those wins came in late October three-game stretches. It starts with a TNT national game on Tuesday with Kraken gem John Forslund on the play-by-play call, working with former NHLers Jody Shelley and Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre.
Manager Dave Hakstol said he welcomes home and several days of full practice after playing nearly every other night from Oct. 15 through Saturday in Pittsburgh. “[Being home the next two weeks-plus], it’s a different rhythm. We have to adapt to this rhythm. It’s very important for us to be ready.”
Two: Top-Six, Mix-Six
The Kraken coaching staff clearly feels good about the chemistry building with the top two offensive lines: Andre Burakovsky-Alex Wennberg-Oliver Bjorkstrand and Jaden Schwartz-Matty Beniers-Jordan Eberle. Wennberg’s line continues to match the opponent’s most productive line. Burakovsky and Bjorkstrand have accumulated assists and many scoring chances. Both are listed to increase their goal count any game now (said the same about Yanni Gourde last week). Bjorkstrand has a career 11.5% shots on goal percentage and entered Tuesday with a 2.2 shooting percentage. Burakovski has a career 14.4 percentage. Something has to give.
The bottom six forward group has included the mix and match. The aforementioned Gourde has been a staple on the third line for the last eight games (six wins, two losses) with Brandon Tanev playing him during the 3-0 road trip. Before being sidelined with a lower-body injury for the last two games, Jared McCann filled in on the third line (Hakstol said Monday that McCann is “day-to-day”). McCann’s injury left room for a 2022 first-round pick Shane Wright. The fourth line is clicking and then some, with Morgan Geekie i Daniel Jump (more frequently with Ryan Donato) bringing high energy, two-way play and captivating production.
Three: Updating the goalkeepers
Check back on the Kraken app, website and social channels to see if Dave Hakstol makes it official Tuesday after his morning skate, but it’s likely Martin Jones starts in goal for Seattle.
“Jonesy has been right since the first day of camp,” Hakstol said, when asked about the free agent signee’s recent play. “I think there’s a game in the mix, where if you asked him about it, he’d say, ‘Hey, I wish I could have been a little bit better.’ To me, it’s his consistency. He’s a real quiet presence there out … He’s making all the saves you’re supposed to make, and now the big timely save has been there for him. That’s given our group a lot.”
#essential #games #Predators #Kraken