With the NHL trade deadline winds finally in the rear view mirror, the Seattle Kraken can finally settle down and focus on the most obvious path over the next nearly six weeks:
A slate of 19 games.
After beating Detroit in a thrilling comeback win in their final game before the deadline, the Kraken aim for back-to-back wins and to avoid a season sweep against the Arizona Coyotes, 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) in what will be their final game at Gila River Arena.
“We’re going to learn what contributions certain individuals can make on this team,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “We’re also going to learn a little bit in terms of how guys can handle an imperfect situation, come together, and be a part of that chemistry.”
“There’s a resiliency factor that will show itself.”
With the Kraken currently a day removed from opening the doors to their future with six players out the door in trades, with forward Daniel Sprong and ten draft picks coming in return, they are likely to pencil Sprong into the lineup, who took line rushes after arriving in town late last evening.
Philipp Grubauer will start in net, his fourth consecutive appearance after a 21 save effort in the Kraken 4-2 win over Detroit last Saturday. Defenseman Derrick Pouliot, claimed off waivers, also arrived in town last night but will not play this evening.
The Kraken, riding a six-game point streak from Yanni Gourde and opening a three-game trip tonight through Arizona and Los Angeles at 2-1-1 in the last four games, have enough bodies to ice a full lineup. However, Hakstol said more reinforcements could be coming.
“As we move forward there are likely some guys not on our roster right now that could get an opportunity who’ve done a nice job in the American league,” said Hakstol.
“We’ll look at that down the road.”
Arizona, who beat the Kraken 5-4 on Nov. 6 and 5-2 on Feb. 9 in Seattle, will move out of Gila River Arena at the end of the season due to an expiring venue lease to a tinier, approximate 5,000 seat venue opening next season on campus at Arizona State University.
Amidst all the home ice noise, the Coyotes have improved their play recently under head coach Andre Tourigny. Starting the season at 0-10-1, they have gone 20-28-3 ever since while scoring 40 goals in the month of March, averaging 4.4 per game.
The Coyotes, at one point winning six of seven games, have lost back to back games leading up to the trade deadline. In moves to acquire prospects, their activity included trading goaltender Scott Wedgewood and hanging onto defenseman Jacob Chychrun and forward Phil Kessel, while signing netminder Karel Vejmelka to a three-year extension.
“In a lot of cases we were able to get bigger, better and younger,” said general manager Bill Armstrong.
Clayton Keller leads Arizona with 27 goals and 61 points.
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP: