Unless a gigantic, unforeseen event becomes reality, Mark Giordano’s going to be the headline on Saturday at Capital One Arena.
But, another substantial development could be right behind it.
Forwards Jaden Schwartz and Jared McCann – who have missed 28 games combined on injured reserve – are on the five-game trip with the Kraken, who open up matters on Saturday night against the Washington Capitals, 4pm PT (950 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) in what is scheduled to be Giordano’s 1,000th game of his National Hockey League career.
Both Schwartz and McCann, significant offensive contributors to the Kraken in their expansion season, reportedly were installed into practice with the main group on Friday at Capitals IcePlex, taking rushes on separate lines while shaking off the rush with power play drills.
A decision still looms ahead as to their availability to come back by Saturday.
“We’ll decide tomorrow,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “It’s the first practice they’ve been able to get in.”
Schwartz, missing since Dec. 30 with a hand ailment which required surgery, and McCann, out since Feb. 24 with an upper body issue, began resuming their skating activity in previous early morning sessions at Kraken Community Iceplex before the main group’s routine late morning practices.
Friday though signaled the next step in progress, closer to getting McCann’s Kraken leading 21 goals and Schwartz’s 20 points in 29 games (he was second in points at the time of his exit) back at Hakstol’s disposal.
Schwartz has routinely showcased as a front-of-the-net option on the power play, effective for screens and rebounds while McCann’s shot has given the power play a substantial trigger option, typically from the right circle where one-timers can be effective.
“They’ve been on ice a lot and have made real good progress,” said Hakstol. “We want to get them in a full practice and into all of those different positions they might see in a game.
Schwartz skated up front with Alex Wennberg and Marcus Johansson while McCann was slotted with Calle Jarnkrok and Jordan Eberle.
Schwartz in particular had a dynamite four-point game against the Capitals in one of the first significant “big fish” wins of the season for the Kraken, 5-2 over Washington on Nov. 21 at Climate Pledge Arena, when he was named first star of the game.
McCann scored a meaningful power play goal with 4:02 left in the first period, sparking a run of four unanswered goals after Tom Wilson put Washington up 1-0.
The Kraken are looking to sweep the two-game series from Washington, which would make them the third expansion team in NHL history to win their first two games over the Capitals (joining the Vegas Golden Knights and Nashville Predators).
KRAKEN LINEUP AT PRACTICE, MAR. 4:
Donato / Czarnik