Victor Rask walked into the media workroom of Climate Pledge Arena on an overcast Wednesday morning, stride-for-stride with a deliberate pace symbolic of progress as a Seattle Kraken forward:
Calculated, poised, and confident.
His resume gets deeper at puck drop, hitting the benchmark of 500 career National Hockey League games when the Kraken host the juggernaut Colorado Avalanche at Climate Pledge Arena at 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network).
"It's a huge accomplishment," said Rask. "Best league in the world."
Once a 20-goal scorer for the Carolina Hurricanes when Kraken general manager Ron Francis ran the Carolina team, Rask's production dipped and was traded after Francis' departure in a wild one-for-one swap with the Minnesota Wild for Nino Niederreiter.
Three-plus seasons in the Wild jersey only led to one season hitting 10 goals. He was traded again, back to Francis, this time to Seattle on Mar. 21 for future considerations. Minnesota even retained half of Rask's salary, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
He arguably had his best game since joining the Kraken in Monday's win against Ottawa, a first star effort which included a two-point game and a game-winner late in the period. Confidence was brought up as a measure of growth.
Rask, who said he never played the wing before in his life before joining the Kraken, is learning about “stops and starts,” benefiting off puck touches and power play time.
"Around the power play you get to touch the puck a lot,” said Rask. “It transforms to your five-on-five game as well.”
Kole Lind, a healthy scratch on Wednesday, will return to the lineup. Philipp Grubauer will face his former teammates, given the start in net tonight against an Avalanche team that is one win away from tying a franchise record with 118 points, set in 2000-01.
That team also won the Stanley Cup.
What’s left for the Avalanche, who have already clinched top seed in the Western Conference and are tied with the Florida Panthers in the Presidents’ Trophy race, have six games to get ideals, habits, and a routine in order before they start their mission for their first Stanley Cup title in 21 years.
Coming off a 3-2 loss against the Washington Capitals on Monday which broke a nine-game win streak, head coach Jared Bendar gave the game some grace and mercy.
“The one we’re trying to do is work on our habits and play the right way,” said Bednar.
“We had a couple of turnovers that cost us, a couple of untimely penalties against, but those are sort of easy fixes. It’s mistakes – when guys make them, they already know before they get to the bench on what happened. I like that aspect. We didn’t get running around.”
Colorado is led by Mikko Rantanen’s 36 goals and 91 points, while defenseman Cale Makar, a favorite to win the Norris Trophy, is the second highest scoring blueliner in the league with 83 points in 72 games and ranks fifth in the NHL with a +48 rating.
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP, 4/20 VS COLORADO: