With the hockey landscape in a current state of change in the last 72 hours, the Seattle Kraken press on to battle the Edmonton Oilers tonight, 7:00pm at Climate Pledge Arena. We’re not at Christmas yet, and this will be the last time the two teams meet all season.
What was a regularly scheduled back-to-back set has turned into a one-game weekend: Sunday’s game with the Toronto Maple Leafs has been postponed due to ongoing COVID-19 issues with the Maple Leafs in Vancouver. Tomorrow’s game will be rescheduled at a later date, announced by the league.
The Kraken have three of their own in COVID-19 protocol, including Yanni Gourde, Riley Sheahan and Colin Blackwell, along with assistant coach Jay Leach. Head coach Dave Hakstol hinted on Friday that no players getting through protocol would be around to play this weekend, and the focus was laser pointed with the world of sports once again ablaze with developments.
“We’re here and ready to play a hockey game,” said Hakstol. “At the end of the day, there’s no second guessing on that. There’s no anxiety, there’s nothing more that comes with it. We know there’s all kinds of uncertainty in the past month, that doesn’t change things.”
A win tonight gives the Kraken the final edge in the season series after winning, 4-3 in Seattle on Dec. 3 – an effort that delivered contributions from nearly all corners, including an Adam Larsson first period goal and five blocked shots, Yanni Gourde scoring in the opening seconds, and a last-minute defensive stand on a six-on-four skating situation.
The Kraken announced early in the afternoon with Saturday’s game moving along as scheduled, Sunday’s Toy Drive at Climate Pledge Arena (helping Mary’s Place) is underway all day today: fans are asked to bring new and unwrapped toy donations, or on Sunday at Climate Pledge Arena or at adjacent KEXP from 11am to 6pm.
-Chris Driedger will start in net tonight, getting the nod after a first star effort in San Jose with a 33-save victory.
-No further announcements were available with the Kraken lineup, with roughly half of the game group on the ice for an optional skate, including both Driedger and Philipp Grubauer.
-Can the Kraken get it going again early? That’s a constant key all season, and it’s delivered results affecting both teams tonight. The Kraken are 6-3-1 when they’re on the board, 1-0. Edmonton has scored the first goal only in 10 of 28 games … they’ve won all 10 of those games.
-Edmonton is going through a battle with their roster that gets steeper by the minute. Originally Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan McLeod, Devin Shore, Duncan Keith, and just announced at a little after 1pm: Jesse Puljujarvi has entered COVID-19 protocol. The Oilers didn’t travel with Dave Tippett as well, who will miss his third straight game while in COVID protocol. Glen Gulutzan and Jim Playfair are splitting head coach duties on the bench.
-Defenseman Slater Koekkoek (lower body) has been activated off injured reserve and will play, reportedly in a depth role as the Oilers look to fill their lineup with anybody available. Center Cooper Marody, last seeing the NHL in 2018-19 with six games, has been recalled from the Bakersfield Condors and will play tonight. He was third on the Condors with 15 points (6g-9a) in 18 games.
-Power play versus penalty kill: the Kraken have allowed just one power play goal over the last five games, while the Oilers, still armed with Connor McDavid (who leads the league in scoring) and Leon Draisaitl (who leads the league with 23 goals), have the top power play in the league at 31.5%.