Following one power play drill, five sets of sticks harmoniously rattled against the ice surface.
Following his turn in another drill, defenseman Vince Dunn let out a very audible “woo” in every ear’s reach.
It’s amazing what a skid-busting win will do for body language and confidence – though one win isn’t a cure-all, it’s a definition of progress. Two days after the Seattle Kraken blitzed the Washington Capitals with four unanswered goals in a 5-2 win, their Monday off bridged the way into a Tuesday practice with one day to prepare for the Carolina Hurricanes, of the Metropolitan Division who are neck-and-neck with the Florida Panthers for the league’s sharpest buzz saw (29 points, tops in the NHL) at 14-2-1.
LET’S TALK ABOUT FEELINGS
In between line rushes, power play drills and breakaways, the emotions of a loose, relaxed, and undisturbed focus defined the residue of the Kraken becoming the third team this season to hand the Capitals a loss in regulation.
“I think the way we played in our last game, that’s our identity and standard we’re trying to set and repeated it every single game,” said forward Colin Blackwell. “It takes place on the ice in practice too. We finally showed the way we’re capable of playing. So when you have stuff like that and a lot of positivity, good things are going to happen.”
“It was a statement win.”
The statement the Kraken are aiming to make now is bagging two points on a consistent basis, while adding to the routine of lacing up for the late morning session, and making habits like a first period response to a 1-0 deficit, power play efficiency, and third period closure more of the routine after facing the Capitals – second best in the NHL with 27.3 shots allowed – and transitioning to the Hurricanes (fourth, 29 shots per game allowed).
“That sounds close to the team we played two nights ago,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “Not giving up very much and great goaltending. We have to get out and play a full 60 minute game, have a really good 60 minute effort, have some extra effort in certain areas, but have everybody go out and do the things they do well for our team.”
Blackwell said getting through six losses in a row taught the value of patience.
“Stuff didn’t seem to be going our way,” said Blackwell. “When you come to the rink dialed every single day, like we were, and then put in the work in and get rewarded against the Capitals – one of the best teams in the league – that was a big win for us.”
CALL ON CALLE
In the second period, Calle Jarnkrok executed a move into the slot with the finish of a sage marksman that hasn’t been seen since the time he wore Nashville Predators colors.
It was his first goal of the season, not exactly the cheap variety, on a wrist shot that beat Vitek Vanecek from between the circles to cap a four-goal second period. It ended a bothersome stretch of 12 straight games to begin the season without a goal.
“It took a little longer then I wanted to,” said Jarnkrok after the win over Washington on Sunday. “Great win (Sunday night), great team win.”
Let’s just say the surface numbers don’t tell the whole story, where Jarnkrok didn’t the luxury of beginning the season on time.”
“Number one for Calle, he’s worked hard,” said Hakstol. “Starting the season on the COVID protocol list, that’s a really hard way to start the year. Then he jumped back into our lineup without a lot of practice time, and we had him playing in a tough defensive role right from the start. It was tough for him to get going offensively, but he’s had the opportunities especially down the last stretch.”
Jarnkrok missed the first five games of the season – all on the road – due to COVID-19 protocol, then raced to get up to speed in the Kraken lineup. Since then, his time on ice has led to a whopping 66 percent (thanks naturalstattrick.com) of high danger scoring opportunity differential on ice for the Kraken, with whom is looking to recapture the form of seven straight double digit goal campaigns.
Let’s just say the first one surged an emotional charge Sunday night.
“I’m sure you could tell how happy and excited our entire bench was for him,” said Hakstol. “I’m sure he breathes a little bit easier and looser going into next game. He’s such a consistent pro and works hard. He executes really well, one of our best players in that regard. Like the rest of our team, nicer to come the rink a little more after a win, and I’m sure for ‘Jarnie,’ a little more fun to come to the rink after a nice night offensively.”
SCHWARTZ GETTING HIS POINTS ACROSS
Jaden Schwartz set a new Kraken season high for most points in a game (4) to take the top perch as points leader with 16 in 18 games, for all intents and purposes settling into a role projected at the start of the season as a focal point of the Kraken offense.
“He’s one of those guys who drives the bus for our team,” said Blackwell. “He’s a great on and off the ice, as one of the leaders in our room. He’s won a Stanley Cup. Guys like myself and other people try to be sponges around somebody like that, and has been around great players and is a great player himself. I think he’s one of the leaders in our group, so when he’s going, other guys try to pull the rope as well.”
Schwartz, originally choosing his number 17 with the St. Louis Blues in honor of his late sister Mandi (passing in 2011 from acute myeloid leukemia) and shared more on recovering from hardships with 950 KJR during the pre-season after losing his father, Rick last year, blitzed the scoreboard Sunday after a special team videoboard montage for “Hockey Fights Cancer” night illustrated his brief tribute to Mandi. He earned his 400thcareer point in the outburst with an assist on Jarnkrok’s goal and returned to practice Tuesday with Yanni Gourde as his pivot, and Jarnkrok on the right wing.
“That line played well, and played well together with and without the puck,” said Hakstol. “Their game down low, they have some good skills there and had some chemistry on night number one together.”
Schwartz has 15 points in the last 12 games, dating back to the Kraken’s Oct. 26 win over Montreal that ended a string of just one assist in his first six games.
PRACTICE LINE COMBOS, DEFENSIVE PAIRS:
Hakstol confirmed “day to day” status for forward Mason Appleton, out of the lineup for 11 straight games with a lower body ailment and was seen today taking reps as a right winger with center Jared McCann and left winger Brandon Tanev … the Hurricanes, making their first visit to the Puget Sound, have former Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Ethan Bear with a six point-in-16 game performance but with a jeopardized status for Wednesday’s game, announced with a COVID-19 positive test on Monday and entering protocol … Seth Jarvis, who skated the last three seasons just 174 miles south for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, is sticking with the Hurricanes at age 19 with four goals in his first ten games … though he’s still eligible to return to Portland, the Hurricanes have now activated the first year of his three-year, entry level contract after the first nine games, effectively a previous, unofficial “tryout” window for young players who can still be sent back to major junior clubs without any effect on their contract timeline.
Finally, Morgan Geekie, who led the stretch at the end of practice, will see his former teammates in the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow: