Saturday before the final game in October: a night for tricks, treats, spooky twists and (if you have kids), an endless sugar rush, the Seattle Kraken returned after a well-deserved day off with pace and confidence, preparing to finish their first homestand in franchise history with the New York Rangers (Sunday at 6pm, Climate Pledge Arena).
A win on Sunday night, against the no-slouch Rangers, will finish the homestand 3-1 and get even, overall, at 4-4-1.
There will be no Halloween party or “trick or treating” with the family on Sunday. It’s game night. Instead, teammates (as a few of you may have seen through the magic of Instagram) used the Friday night away as a team bonding opportunity, drawing several terrific and clever costume opportunities.
Jared McCann (you’ll hear from him on Sunday’s pre-game show) summed it up like a team finding its next stride, despite being only on ice for over a month.
“A lot of people do more bonding off the ice, than they do on it,” said McCann. “We haven’t had the chance to do that until a Halloween get-together (with) everybody and learn where they come from.”
With more faces becoming familiar, it’s back to work, and it’s been awhile since we’ve touched Kraken Community Iceplex (seven days). Sum it up to the frequency of home games, and the necessity to break in ice surface that’s never been used before, where the Kraken will need to discover and become accustomed to every nook and cranny that can aid them, 41 home games and beyond per season.
-We’ve got signs of progress: Colin Blackwell and Marcus Johansson, both on injured reserve, have resumed skating and were among the first on ice before the scheduled 10:30am start time, but participating away from the main group.
-Chris Driedger returned to main group action for the first time since heading to injured reserve on Oct. 19, still with no clear timeline to return according to Dave Hakstol but improving to “day to day” status.
-No Mason Appleton, now on injured reserve, and confirmed by Hakstol as a lower body issue and out indefinitely.
-Max McCormick, no surprise as one of the first recalls from Charlotte Checkers (five points in four games) was made official shortly before practice was underway, returning to a familiar place in training camp after an abrupt signing where his reps on ice have fueled a fast start and necessary recall today. Hakstol said the back-to-back games necessitate the recall, where he could be in line for his Kraken debut Sunday or the next night, in Edmonton.
-With practice underway to include small area battles, two-on-one drills to enhance the transition game (Jared McCann whistled two shots to the upper glove-side corner), and line rushes, a small shake-up with line combos filtered a few featured productive forwards throughout the lineup, really furthering Dave Hakstol’s assertion in training camp that he prefers to stay away from branding a first line, second line, etc. Jaden Schwartz, Yanni Gourde, Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle all took places across separate lines, which will be interesting to monitor changes heading into Sunday against the Rangers.
-Who plays in net? The Kraken now have back-to-back games (Sunday and Monday) coming up, their second of ten ventures with the question lingering on how they manage the goaltending position. Hakstol confirmed "there's a chance" that backup goaltending could see time in net along with Grubauer, but no assurance as far as the definite workload.
-At the :32 mark of the video below, on the new developments in the Blackhawks investigation this past week with Kyle Beach stepping forward to confirm he was "John Doe 1" in TSN's interview with Rick Westhead, Hakstol delivered his remarks, and the necessity to uphold the responsibility to create safety for the hockey community.
The Kraken in practice today:
Schwartz – Wennberg – Donskoi
Tanev – Gourde – Jankrok
McCann – Geekie – Eberle
Donato – Sheahan – Bastian
Giordano – Dunn
Fleury – Oleksiak
Lauzon – Larsson
Soucy – Borgen
FROM THE PODIUM:
Max McCormick on preparing for a possible call-up with complex travel obligations:
“You just have to be a pro and be prepared for any situations. You can’t make any excuses. You’ve got to be ready when your number is called.”
McCormick on how he passes the time for cross-country flights:
“Just throw in a podcast, throw on a show, nap a little bit and relax. Just try to get some sleep!”
Dave Hakstol on the chance to scout the Rangers:
“They’re going with a lot of different layers to their team – they have skill and ability throughout that lineup, up front, on the back end and in goal. They have two goaltenders that are going really well. Just watching them play, they are playing with a lot of skill and confidence, and they’ve been able to be really consistent defensively. That makes them a pretty tough opponent.”
Hakstol on putting Brandon Tanev with Yanni Gourde and Calle Jarnkrok on the same line:
“We put Brandon with Gourde’s line halfway through the first period, the other night, making switches which really clicked. Each time they went out, any time we matched them up, they played fast. They are hard to play against because of the pace, and with the puck they’re single minded in terms of tenacity and can be pretty hard to defend as well.”