A Happy Wednesday to you, in this new day in hockey.
As the events and results of Tuesday night have unfolded and are now in the rear-view mirror in the name of “it’s pre-season, move along,” the Kraken (1-1) turn their attention toward a new game day, new opponent, new venue, and for all intents and purposes, new lineup.
The Calgary Flames will be in their way twice, in the next four days as both teams continue to make tweaks in preparation for the regular season. Tonight’s broadcast, starting at 6pm with yours truly in studio and play-by-play voice Everett Fitzhugh from the booth, brings the Kraken to the oldest building in the National Hockey League*, Scotiabank Saddledome.
New Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano, though this isn’t the official “welcome back” return that involves all of the pomp and circumstance of a regular season game, steps foot inside the place he called home ice for the very first time since the Kraken selected him from the Flames in July’s expansion draft. The return is emotional, understanding his résumé:
- 15 seasons
- 949 games
- 509 points
- 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games
- The Norris Trophy (top defenseman in the league), 2018-19
(Don’t say you’d go to work in one place that long with co-workers you love, then leave, then come back not feeling emotional.)
Head coach Dave Hakstol said after last night’s defeat in Edmonton that with the entire game group (of available skaters) on the trip, the lineup would look different today. There’s zero conflict with the reports of “who’s in” at puck drop. After sitting out last night to give younger players a fresh look, veterans Jordan Eberle, Philipp Grubauer, Jaden Schwartz, Jared McCann, Joonas Donskoi, and Adam Larsson will return to suit up. They were all present in the historic 5-3 victory over the Canucks on Sunday, in the pre-season opener.
The Flames (0-2), last fell to the Canucks, 4-2 on Monday with a host of regulars sitting out – it appears many will make their pre-season debut tonight.Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, and Noah Hanifin– the first three finishing last season as top three in points for the Flames – are all in.
* Did you know? The Saddledome is the oldest venue in the NHL, eliminating the criteria of “have undergone renovations.” Madison Square Garden in New York, the current venue built in 1968, has undergone two renovations, in 1989 and 2011. Climate Pledge Arena, many of us know, opened in 1962 and is due to open its doors again next month after the full scale, three-year renovation, underneath its historic and landmark roof.
PROJECTED LINEUP VS. CALGARY
Schwartz – McCann – Eberle
Donato – Geekie – Donskoi
Bastian – True – Appleton
Melanson – Sheahan – Lind
Giordano – Larsson
Soucy – Borgen
H. Fleury – C. Fleury
FROM THE PODIUM:
Defenseman Mark Giordano on returning to Calgary:
“Just getting out on the ice – lot of familiar faces but it’ll be different. But looking forward to playing the boys over there. I just saw a few guys, snuck into the tunnel, saw (Matthew Tkachuck), (Johnny Gaudrean), (Milan Lucic), ... I'm sure I’ll hear a lot of chirps tonight and it looks like they’re dressing a pretty good lineup, so it’ll be a good game to get into."
Giordano, after playing in 900 NHL games, if he specifically asked to get into this pre-season game:
“I think just our schedule - looking at it, we only have four games left being a new team, we’ve got to get familiar with each other and play games. To be honest, in pre-season it’s better sometimes to play on the road. You play better lineups especially early in camp. I’m looking forward to it.”
Head coach Dave Haskstol on the team coming together in pre-season:
“Well it’s early. Obviously we’ve had one good result, not that it’s results driven in the pre-season. Tougher outing last night. But you learn a lot from either result. That’s the biggest thing – we’re pulling the good and the bad out of each of the team performances and working to pull good and bad out of individual performances and evaluate it that way. We’re making progress. We have a long way to go.”
Hakstol on what it’s like to coach Mark Giordano:
“Much more fun coaching (him) on the same bench. He’s just such a quality (player) and everyone knows the quality of player he is. For sure, everybody who’s spent time around him knows the quality of person he is. (He’s) tremendous to have in our dressing room, not just in his role on the ice, but in a leadership role – so very important.”
Hakstol on what excites him about this challenge of coaching the Kraken:
“Every opportunity is a little bit different. That’s one of the things I’ve learned is value every opportunity, great and small. The first thing that comes to mind with this opportunity is the number of outstanding people I have an opportunity to work with on a daily basis, and the organization I have a chance to be part of. That’s the one thing we’re all really conscious of, and it doesn’t take very long to figure out as you join the organization. Just understand the quality and depth of people in organization – that’s the foundation of work that’s taking place for us to be successful. For us that’s the number one thing.”
We’ll join you at 6pm (below), with Everett Fitzhugh steering the ship with play-by-play on Sports Radio 950 KJR!
1st intermission: Ricky Olczyk (Assistant general manager, Seattle Kraken)
2nd intermission: Peter Loubardias (Radio color analyst, Calgary Flames)