Mason Appleton hammered a one-timer to the back of the net and let out an epic yell.
On another drill, Appleton sent a pass over to an awaiting Marcus Johansson at the right circle, roofing a shot under the bar on Chris Driedger. Jordan Eberle did the same, later with another wrister.
The band was back together and the feeling was mighty good.
The Seattle Kraken emerged from the All-Star break for their first practice at Kraken Community Iceplex in quite a while - they hadn’t skated on the ice sheet of their master control headquarters surface in nearly two weeks.
January 19 was the last time, before the Kraken embarked on an exhaustive sprint of eight games in 14 days, including an east coast snow trip that was hit by a bomb cyclone. Two weeks, a trip to the All-Star Game for Jordan Eberle, and resilient wins over Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders later, the Kraken believe they have mentally advanced and prepared for the next phase.
“Get out and knock as much rust off as possible,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “We got up and down the rink as much we could. Didn’t stop and talk a whole lot.”
“A lot of life out there, great energy. Some of the execution was left to be desired – we knew that would be the case coming out of the break. Guys worked through it.”
ALL-STAR BACK IN ACTION
Eberle, who could maybe use an extra nap after a week long road trip then immediate departure to Las Vegas, seized the national spotlight with a breakaway goal in Saturday’s All-Star Game at T-Mobile Arena and playful participation in the Friday skills competition, a part of the made-for-TV “Fountain Faceoff” held on the waterfront beside the iconic Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.
His attention now shifts to the immediate work ahead, where Wednesday night against the Arizona Coyotes presents the next opportunity to break out of a 21-game goal scoring drought. Admitting a physical challenge on the first day back, he returned to his familiar spot on a line Tuesday with Marcus Johansson and Jared McCann, a trio united on a consistent front since the Kraken lost Jaden Schwartz due to injury in early January.
“You play with linemates long enough, you create more chemistry,” said Eberle, second on the Kraken with 12 goals and 26 points.
“I feel every game we’re creating quite a bit of chances. We’re leaving three to four on the table and we’re getting 1 (goal) per game. That’ll come.”
Eberle’s tone, in the middle of the offensive dry spell, suggested direction instead of exasperation.
“You just want to create chances, the puck will go in,” said Eberle. “I’ve played in this league long enough – the gods switch bases. Keep doing the right things and that’ll happen.”
HELLO, AUSTIN CZARNIK
Shortly after the conclusion of practice, the Kraken confirmed forward Austin Czarnik had been claimed off waivers from the New York Islanders, setting up the potential fourth stop on Czarnik’s NHL tour.
The 29-year old forward, experienced with the Islanders, Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins, had five points in 11 games with the Islanders in addition to 15 points in 20 games with their minor league affiliate in Bridgeport this season. He just came off time on the injured reserve list from an upper body ailment, before being placed on waivers by the Islanders on Monday.
Where Czarnik specifically fits in the lineup is still a work in progress – Hakstol said the goal is to get him into town “in the next day, or two.” But the seven-year pro and former Miami (OH) captain, who was pursued as a college-level recruit when Hakstol coached at North Dakota, has grown a reputation as a reliable third or fourth line forward with special teams experience.
“Very good skill, extremely competitive, good pro,” said Hakstol.
Czarnik comes in with instant connections – Mark Giordano was a two-year teammate in Calgary, Eberle with the New York Islanders last season, Ryan Donato and Jeremy Lauzon with the Boston Bruins system, along with Jay Leach – Kraken assistant coach, and former Providence coach.
NOTES: Jamie Oleksiak and Carson Soucy skated this morning (aside from the main group’s on-ice session) in their recovery from injuries, “day to day” and with re-evaluation coming tomorrow as confirmed by Hakstol … Schwartz, who was placed on injured reserve on January 6 along with surgery on an injured hand, “will be re-evaluated again this week,” Hakstol said … defenseman Will Borgen returned for his first day on the ice after entering COVID-19 protocol on Feb. 1, swapping in with defensemen Vince Dunn and Jeremy Lauzon.
PRACTICE LINEUP: FEB. 8