Maybe after Saturday night, the day off was a blessing in disguise.
Through 48 hours of downtime and a flight to Las Vegas, the Seattle Kraken emerged for their first practice since a 5-4 defeat on Saturday to the host Arizona Coyotes, where a pair of separate two-goal leads – including a 2-0 boost just 59 seconds into the game – and an extra attacker rally slipped through their grip to open the door for the Coyotes’ first win of the season.
The Monday afternoon session at Las Vegas’ suburban City National Arena gave time to mentally reset, knowing that the slate has been wiped clean before a Tuesday night showdown with the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena (7pm), in the first meeting since the Kraken nearly rallied back in a 4-3 loss in their inaugural season opener, Oct. 12.
“In some respects it was maybe well timed,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “It gives everyone a chance to clear the deck after our game in Arizona. You’ve got to grow as a team out of some of the tough experiences. And that was a tough experience. It was disappointing for all of us.”
What about the road ahead for a team never played together until late September, trying to recover from their first loss (4-1-1) when leading after two periods?
“It gives you an opportunity to learn something about yourselves and grow together,” said Hakstol. “As long as we have that coming out of the cost of that loss, we can put it to positive use and make it a positive for our team.”
They’ve outshot the opposition six games in a row. They’ve scored 13 goals in the last three games. They’ve scored four goals or more in four of the last six games.
As for scoring chances? According to NaturalStatTrick.com, giving more tangible metrics into where they stand with creating, they’re tied for fifth best in the NHL with 106 (opportunities between the circles, and at the front of the net). But all that’s left to answer from Saturday, is acknowledgement for psychological recalibration.
“The urgency of our team has been excellent,” said Hakstol. “We played very hard. We slipped in a couple areas the other night. We know that. We’re going to own that as some of the easy goals we gave up. The opportunities more so that we gave up – in most respects we dominated parts of that game but we weren’t complete. It’s just a realization how complete we have to be on a nightly basis, with and without the puck."
JOHANSSON COMING SOON?
Ryan Donato missed practice after leaving Saturday’s game with an upper body ailment, and with no call-up from the Charlotte Checkers set in stone, forward Marcus Johansson was front and center with progress in his mission to return from the injured corps.
He hasn’t played since opening night in Vegas. Participating in practice as a replacement in Donato’s spot with linemates Morgan Geekie and Joonas Donskoi, Johansson is still officially listed as “day-to-day” and will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
“Jo-Jo’s getting closer,” said Hakstol.
Donato was confirmed by Hakstol as day-to-day at the end of practice.
GRUBAUER OR DRIEDGER?
Hakstol said a decision on playing Philipp Grubauer or Chris Driedger “will wait until tomorrow,” with Grubauer coming off a 22-saves-in-27-shots performance, tying his season high in goals allowed (5). He still has five games of allowing two goals or less, while also throwing in a win against the Predators (30 saves in a 4-3 win) where last season’s Vezina Trophy finalist kept Nashville at bay with 12 third period saves.
Driedger, looking to get his first taste of game action since recovering from injury in relief of Grubauer on Oct. 18 at Philadelphia, was 6-4-2 in 12 road games with the Florida Panthers last season, along with a .911 save percentage and one shutout.