Mason Appleton's return to Winnipeg: "will definitely be different"

Seattle Kraken v Anaheim Ducks

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 15: Mason Appleton #22 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

Mason Appleton knows where he’s going. 

At least, from the entrance. From there, it’s a new world. 

He’ll step foot into the visiting dressing room at Canada Life Centre for the first time in his career since being taken in last summer’s expansion draft, when the Seattle Kraken visit the Jets tonight at 5pm PT (950 KJR / Kraken Audio Network). 

“Going into the away side will definitely be different,” said Appleton. 

Philipp Grubauer, 12-19-4 in 36 games this season, will start in net for the Kraken, set to appear in net for the seventh time in the last nine games. He made eight saves in the first period on Monday and Chris Driedger took over the rest of the way, a move head coach Dave Hakstol said was to “change momentum” with the Kraken trailing 3-1 to Toronto. 

The trip will open three straight games on the road, starting with the Jets, who defeated the Kraken 3-0 in the first meeting on Dec. 9 but will also be playing in their second game in as many nights after beating Minnesota, 6-3 on Wednesday. 

“They’re a good team, the ability they have – forward group, ability they have on the back end, they can be a lot to handle if they get going,” said Hakstol. “We’ve got to play a rock solid game with, without the puck, and be ready to compete from the drop of the puck” 

“The last thing you want to do is feed their transition game and feed their offense.”

Carson Soucy, tied for the Kraken lead among defensemen with six goals in 33 games, will return to the lineup this evening after missing the last eight games from a lower body injury sustained in a Kraken victory over the Florida Panthers on Jan. 23. Soucy was paired in a Wednesday practice with Will Borgen. 

Haydn Fleury will sit in place of Soucy, with the Kraken aiming to handle Winnipeg’s transition game – and future opponents on the trip – with a league best 28.1 shots per game allowed. 

“You’ve got to manage the play and not turn pucks over,” said Appleton. “We’ve got to play pucks below their goal line and hold pucks down there. If you’re doing that offensively, they’re not on the attack.”

The Jets, playing in a stretch of 11 games in 20 days, are five points out of a playoff spot and were led by Mark Scheifele’s fifth career hat trick and four points on Wednesday night. Blake Wheeler also notched four assists. 

“We have an understanding of the value of these points,” said Jets head coach Dave Lowry. “We’ve worked ourselves into a position where we’re in striking distance.”  

All-Star Kyle Connor, who scored twice against the Kraken on Dec. 9, leads Winnipeg with 27 goals and 51 points.

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