The first time the Seattle Kraken meet the Edmonton Oilers at Climate Pledge Arena, tonight at 7pm, bring two forces aiming for the routine task of two points, but still down significant names and moving through uncertainty heading into tonight.
The Kraken have won or earned points in five of the last six games (4-1-1), beating namesakes such as Washington, Carolina, and Florida to regain their rhythm enjoy their wealthiest stretch of the year. The Edmonton Oilers, with some guys you may have heard of in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, have won five of their last six games (5-1) and trail the Calgary Flames by a mere point in the Pacific Division, with two games in hand.
Draisaitl (41 points) and McDavid (40) are the two point getters in the league, with Draisaitl entering tonight as the league’s leading goal scorer: 20 goals in 21 games.
Injuries to the Kraken, armed with the top power play in the league for virtually the last month, have issued challenges in the absence of Mark Giordano (COVID-19 protocol), Calle Jarnkork (injured reserve), Chris Driedger (injured reserve), Jordan Eberle, and Jaden Schwartz – the latter, day-to-day. The Oilers, armed and dangerous with the top power play in the league overall, are missing goaltender Mike Smith, Duncan Keith, Cody Ceci, Slater Koekkoek, and Darnell Nurse for starters.
Still, the will to win or at least get to overtime for the Kraken has come in the form of developing depth: 18 different Kraken skaters have chipped in with a point, led by Yanni Gourde’s seven.
How the Kraken navigate those waters, opening a four-game homestand with star power coming in the next week (Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are next): we discussed in today’s Kraken This Morning hit with Everett Fitzhugh and Jack Michaels, heard above.
PROJECTED LINEUP VS. EDMONTON
Johansson – Wennberg – Appleton
Tanev – Geekie – McCann
Donato – Gourde – Donskoi
Blackwell – Sheahan – Lind
Oleksiak – Soucy
Fleury – Dunn
Lauzon – Larsson
-Philipp Grubauer was first seen off the ice at morning skate today, an indication he will start in net tonight once again.
-Motivation for Adam Larsson: he led the stretch at the end of morning skate for the Kraken and will face his former Oilers teammates for the second time this season.
-Should that hold up, it’ll be Grubauer vs. Stuart Skinner (confirmed) in net, a rematch of the pre-season thriller in Everett, won by the Kraken, 2-1 in overtime. Grubauer had 16 saves with the start in net before giving way to Joey Daccord. Skinner had 39 saves and went all the way to Jared McCann’s one-timer that beat him from the right circle in OT.
-Head coach Dave Hakstol confirmed Eberle, Schwartz, and Jarnkrok (though seen on ice) are unavailable. Will Borgen, sitting Wednesday night at Detroit (lower body), has been confirmed as available to play.
-Eberle was seen skating this morning, an indication of progress as he left Monday’s game against Buffalo in the third period with a lower body ailment.
-That Kraken power play: tops in the league since Nov. 9 (34.6), led by Jared McCann with five power play goals.
-Last matchup: 5-2 Kraken loss at Edmonton on Nov. 1 on a two-goal game by Leon Draisaitl, and in a game where we mentioned staying out of the box would be key. The Oilers, who haven’t let up as the league’s best power play (35.9), earned a goal that night and were in the middle of a stretch 10 straight games with a power play goal.
-Local ties: Derek Ryan and Kailer Yamamoto, both Spokane natives who suited up in the WHL for the Spokane Chiefs, will play in their first NHL game in Seattle tonight. Ryan faced the Thunderbirds who used to call Climate Pledge Arena home, pre-renovation, while Yamamoto, playing with older brother Keanu, frequented the Chiefs stops in Kent and Everett before the trademark boisterous and often packed crowds.
-Local ties, coach edition: Dave Tippett was a fixture for the Kraken infancy when their namesake was purely, “NHL Seattle,” before accepting an offer for the Oilers head coaching position on May 28, 2019. As senior advisor for the organization and involved in the idea-building of several tenets of construction and logistics, Tippett said he remembered walking through the building before the renovation, an “incredible endeavor” which had plenty of Oilers players raving about the pristine touches.