The Big Rig, Jamie Oleksiak, back in Dallas again (AUDIO)

Seattle Kraken v Anaheim Ducks

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 15: Jamie Oleksiak #24 of the Seattle Kraken looks on during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on December 15, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

More sound from Jamie Oleksiak, Ryan Donato, Dave Hakstol, and the opposition this morning as host Mike Benton sets up the first ever matchup between the Kraken and Stars from American Airlines Center. The Coors Light Pregame Show opens 5pm PT on 950 KJR and the Kraken Audio Network.

The Dallas Stars know what they’re up against.

“The big rig,” said eight year Stars forward Tyler Seguin. “I’ll probably chip it in his corner and let Jamie go get it.”

That hulking 6-foot-7, 225-pound frame belonging to defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has found a home on the Seattle Kraken blueline and will return to familiar grounds tonight, facing his old Dallas Stars team in the first ever matchup between the two teams, 5:30pm PT from American Airlines Center (950 KJR, Kraken Audio Network).

Oleksiak has done this before, previously with the Pittsburgh Penguins following a trade, midseason in 2017-18. But Oleksiak has spent nine seasons in a Stars jersey and took a trip to the Stanley Cup Final with them in 2020.

That makes the return still very special.

“It’s good to see the guys in Dallas again,” said Oleksiak, who has the second most ice time on the Kraken at even strength, 18:01 per game. “It’s good to see the fans and get sunshine. But we’re here to a job and that comes first and foremost.”

Head coach Dave Hakstol acknowledged the energy surrounding Oleksiak and his teammates ahead of puck drop, calling it a special opportunity.

“That’s real important for all of us in the dressing room to realize and understand,” said Hakstol. “For Jamie, much like everybody, when you come into a new team where all the roles and personalities are new – it’s finding that spot and role. He’s settling into his role with us.

“As a big strong guy, we count on him for to be reliable, a good two-way defender and puck mover.”

The job Oleksiak acknowledged demands the Kraken, trying to snap an 0-5-1 skid, show up as alert as ever at puck drop and prepared to face another tough task who uses home ice to their advantage, like the Colorado Avalanche who rallied down 3-1 to beat the Kraken, 4-3 on Monday. Colorado owns the second highest points percentage (.852) in the NHL, on home ice. Dallas is third (.794).

Dallas, starting three games in four days, is 4-1 since Dec. 18 and is coming off an emotionally fueled 2-1 loss to St. Louis. But the Stars are now trying to regroup in the loss of goaltender Braden Holtby, forwards Denis Gurianov and Alexander Radulov to COVID-19 protocol.

The Kraken mission is to wipe away the results from Monday, Hakstol said, with a renewed focus.

“There’s no consolation prize in playing well or having pieces of your game to feel good,” said Hakstol. “It’s about winning hockey games. We have an opportunity here tonight to compete together and put together a strong 60 minutes.”

Philipp Grubauer, who made 31 saves on Monday at Colorado, will start in net for the Kraken against Jake Oettinger, last making 27 stops in a Jan. 8 win over Pittsburgh.

The Kraken are without Morgan Geekie, day-to-day with an upper body ailment. Max McCormick, last suiting up New Year’s Day against Vancouver, will return in place of Geekie.

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