With 13 games left to create a winning movement that can become habitual, the Seattle Kraken will face a challenge in the manpower department.
No, not one of their own. They have enough bodies for a full lineup. Instead, it’s in the man advantage category, getting a chance to gain sweat equity by facing a daunting St. Louis Blues power play, 5pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) in the final meeting of the season at Enterprise Center.
The Kraken are aiming to salvage a victory in three tries against St. Louis, previously taking a 5-0 loss in Seattle on Jan. 21 and eight days prior, letting a 1-0 slip in the third period for a 2-1 defeat at St. Louis.
Since then, the Kraken have enjoyed newfound success on the penalty kill, at least helping generate offense. They scored their eighth shorthanded goal, courtesy Jared McCann, to break open a 1-0 and eventually beat Dallas on Monday at Climate Pledge Arena.
“It’s a good test for us,” said forward Riley Sheahan. “In the last little bit we’ve been figuring things out and playing to our system the way we want. There’s a lot of opportunity for our kill to show what we can do.”
Their eight “shorties” are eighth best in the NHL, taking advantage of a high pressure type of system that can disrupt opposing power play strategies.
Goaltender Chris Driedger will start in net, aiming for his third win in the last four games while Cale Fleury will jump back in after a Tuesday call-up from Charlotte. Head coach Dave Hakstol said the Kraken will face a Blues team, third in the league for power play percentage, with strength in depth.
“This is arguably the deepest team in the National Hockey League,” said head coach Dave Hakstol.
“The momentum of each power play is going to be a big deal. That first face-off. The first clear. Can we get them going up and down the rink a couple of times 200 feet, or do they lock us in our zone and make us defend?”
The Blues have seven 20 goal scorers on their squad, their most since 1984-85. David Perron, third with 23 goals, leads them with nine power play goals. Vladimir Tarasenko, paces St. Louis with 25 goals on the season.
Tarasenko scored twice in St. Louis’ 5-1 win over Arizona on Monday, with the Blues keeping pace at third place in the Central Division at 39-20-10, three points back of second place Minnesota.
Head coach Craig Berube said the Blues are prepared for facing a need to find a hard-nosed source of production.
“(Seattle) plays good, structured hockey,” said Berube. “You’ve got to work for your offense. We’re going to have to work for our opportunities.”
“We’re going to have to get some ugly goals against them.”