Newly engaged Chris Driedger starts at Boston in Donato's return

Seattle Kraken v Anaheim Ducks

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Goaltender Chris Driedger walked into TD Garden this morning with a not-so-normal greeting, given the circumstances. 

He’s 24 hours removed with just becoming engaged. 

“Everybody gave him a congratulations and a hard time,” said Ryan Donato.

Driedger, made the announcement on Monday posing for a photo in Boston with fiancée Rachael on Instagram, when the Kraken had the day off. 

“We're all happy for him,” said Donato. “None of us knew it was happening. He kept it good and quiet. Which is probably a smart thing.” 

As hockey players are known to bond over light teasing, or “chirping” as it’s well known, Driedger will look to ride an emotional wave into tonight where the Kraken aim for a 2-1 record on a four-game trip, ending tomorrow on Long Island before the All-Star break. 

Driedger has a .918 save percentage in his last two appearances, though losses to the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings. He’ll face Linus Ullmark of the Bruins, 8-1-1 in his last ten appearances. 

The return to TD Garden is also emotional for Donato, a Boston native breaking into the pros with the Bruins organization after three years at nearby Harvard – where his father, former nine-year forward Ted Donato, is now on year 17 as head coach of the Crimson program. 

The Donato family went out to dinner with Ryan in town, while old friendships were rekindled in an off-ice homecoming, prepared for the only Kraken game of the season in the New England area. 

“It means a little extra,” said Donato. 

It also gives time for Ryan to reflect, learning the game under Ted. 

“He was my idol growing up, having your father like that is a blessing,” said Donato. “Having a chance to play for him and learn from him was a tremendous experience. He could be tough on me, but he could also be a father figure when he needed to be. 

“We have a great relationship to this day.” 

The Kraken missed Calle Janrkrok for Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, taking warmups but scratched with an upper body injury. 

Head coach Dave Hakstol said Jarnkrok will be a game time decision, while defenseman Cale Fleury will make his Kraken debut, will likely take shifts with brother Haydn on the back end. 

Hakstol said the Kraken mission will be to continue effective habits from Sunday’s game in Manhattan, prepared for a close, tight game against a Bruins team holding the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

“The one thing that has to be consistent is good play without the puck,” said Hakstol. “Responsible play – and by responsible that doesn’t mean backing off defensively. It means we’re skating, checking, and working to get to get the puck back.” 

The Bruins, who lifted Willie O’Ree’s number 22 into the rafters on Jan. 18 and joined 12 others to each have their jersey retired in Boston, still maintain a core of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak – all combining to play 39 NHL seasons exclusively with Boston. 

Marchand leads the Bruins with 21 goals and 47 points. Boston lost, 6-1 at Dallas, in their previous game on Sunday. 

NOTES: Defenseman Will Borgen will be unavailable, entering COVID-19 protocol, the team announced Tuesday morning ... Karson Kuhlman, who was slated to face his former team tonight, was placed on injured reserve after leaving Sunday's game with the Rangers following a collision along the boards and seen favoring his arm ... forwards Max McCormick, Kole Line, and defenseman Connor Carrick were recalled Tuesday morning to the taxi squad from AHL Charlotte.

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