MORNING SKATE: Chris Driedger starts, Kraken host the Kings for first time

Calgary Flames v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 30: Chris Driedger #60 of the Seattle Kraken looks on before the game against the Calgary Flames at Climate Pledge Arena on December 30, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Previewing the first matchup with the Kings and breaking down more Jordan Eberle All-Star news, Jared McCann and tonight's visit with Los Angeles, Everett Fitzhugh and Kings TV analyst Jim Fox joined host Mike Benton for Kraken This Morning.

Chris Driedger was the first player on the ice for the Seattle Kraken on Saturday morning, wasting no time to prepare for the next challenge.

Starting a six-game homestand, their longest remaining of the season, the Kraken will play in their fourth game in six nights against the Los Angeles Kings, making their first ever trip to Seattle at 7:05pm from Climate Pledge Arena (950 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).

Driedger, who deserved a better fate and delivered a strong 25-save effort in a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, will make his second consecutive start in net.

It gives rest for Philipp Grubauer, last seen in a Wednesday 5-2 loss at Dallas, but also opportunity for schedule management – the Kraken follow a Monday afternoon game against Chicago with back-to-back games, Thursday and Friday against San Jose and St. Louis – then six games in ten days.

“His performance is one part of it,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “A little thought process around the team we’re playing as well, and it’s a really busy stretch here. So we’ll need both guys. Coming off the performance in St. Louis, Chris was solid, and this gives him an opportunity build momentum and for our team.”

Hakstol, who said Grubauer is “our guy,” emphasized the level of battle in three straight visits to teams within the top four home records in the NHL.

“We were able to build a lead in Colorado; disappointing we couldn’t close that game out,” said Hakstol. “In Dallas we dug ourselves a hole but were able to push back and play well in the second and third – we gave ourselves an opportunity. It’s about the results. We didn’t get them. Similarly in St. Louis, we ran out of gas.”

“We’re making sure we evaluate it for what it is and be better; also make sure we solidify the good in our hockey game.”

The Kings, who are 5-2 in the last seven games, will be spending plenty of time away from Los Angeles. Ten of their next 12 games will be on the road, coming off a 6-2 at home on Thursday over Pittsburgh.

That run has put them back to five points out of the Pacific Division lead, where their core of Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, and goaltender Jonathan Quick remain with the team, winning two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014, and have combined for 61 seasons in the NHL, all with the Kings.

“Even with a little success right now, those guys are never satisfied,” said defenseman Mikey Andersson. “After they won the two Cups a while back, they want that again, and you can see that. They’re hungry.”

Cal Petersen is expected to start in net tonight against Driedger.

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