Knocking the rust off the All-Star break, Philipp Grubauer, Austin Czarnik, the Coyotes, and more with TV analyst J.T. Brown, who joined host Mike Benton for a new edition of Kraken This Morning.
Out of the All-Star break, into the routine.
The Seattle Kraken end a six-day layoff with their second match-up of the season tonight, 7pm PT against the Arizona Coyotes at Climate Pledge Arena.
Philipp Grubauer will start in In net for the Kraken, finding his stride over the last seven games. During that span, Grubauer is 5-2 with a .918 save percentage and earned the first shutout in Kraken history on Feb. 2, closing a four-game trip with a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders.
“Grubie’s played well,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “He’s been solid for us, made timely saves for us, and that’s important for our team. Our team has to be comfortable in those tight checking games, make the play at the right time, to push us to the right side of those tight games.”
Defensemen Carson Soucy and Jamie Oleksiak were paired together in routine line rushes on Wednesday morning, though Hakstol declined to verify their spot in the lineup, suggesting more time was necessary to determine if they’ll be cleared to play.
“Both are very close,” said Hakstol.
The Kraken showed the same line combinations as compared to practice on Tuesday at Kraken Community Iceplex, still without Jaden Schwartz (hand injury) and Austin Czarnik (claimed on waivers from the New York Islanders). Schwartz, who has missed the last 13 straight games since leaving mid-game on Dec. 29 against Philadelphia, was seen taking on-ice reps early Wednesday morning before the main group stepped onto the ice.
Part of that main group and consistency among the line combinations include Jordan Eberle, returning from his second trip in the All-Star Game, along with Jared McCann (leading the Kraken with 19 goals) and Marcus Johansson, slotted into Schwartz’s spot since early January.
Consistency together, defined in nearly 56 minutes of ice time together since Jan. 23, is also connected with a spike in McCann’s and Johansson’s play. Johansson, who has eight points in the last eight games against Arizona, is second on the Kraken with five points since that date.
McCann leads the Kraken with seven points.
“We’ve created a lot of chances,” said Johansson. “I feel we could have a few more goals with a few more bounces. But hopefully if you keep creating chances, that’s going to come. That’s also with confidence.”
Arizona, last in the Central Division and losing seven of the last eight games, enters tonight off a 5-1 loss at Vancouver on Tuesday night, not skating this morning at Climate Pledge Arena but reportedly set to start Karel Vejmelka in net for the second straight night.
Vejmelka, surrendering two goals on his first two shots and pulled before Arizona rallied over the Kraken, 5-4 on Nov. 6, has surrendered nine goals in the last two games, losses to Calgary and Vancouver.
The Coyotes, 2-8 in the second of back-to-back games this season, are led by All-Star Clayton Keller’s 17 goals and 38 points.
NOTES: Late Wednesday morning, the Kraken claimed defenseman Dennis Cholowski off waivers from the Washington Capitals, reportedly sent to Charlotte of the American Hockey League .... Cholowski was waived two days after the Kraken lost their inaugural game in franchise history, 4-3 at Vegas, and was selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft ... Cholowski had an assist in seven games with the Capitals.
KRAKEN LINE RUSHES, MORNING SKATE: