“I think everybody’s hungry": Kraken prepare for stiff test in Carolina

Carolina Hurricanes v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 24: Alex Wennberg #21 of the Seattle Kraken and Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes battle for the puck during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena on November 24, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Not all opponents are created equal. 

But many of them, for the first 15 against the Seattle Kraken, have something in common. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. 

The Kraken didn’t face one of them last Saturday, in a 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights who missed out but were eliminated nearly at the finish line of the 82-game season. This time, the Kraken get the Carolina Hurricanes, hosting them tonight at 7pm PT (93.3. KJR / Kraken Audio Network), and a team building off a 50-win season and the Metropolitan Division title. 

“I think everybody’s hungry after the last performance we had,” defenseman Adam Larsson said. 

“I don’t think we can get a better test than tonight. These guys have proven to be a really good team, they’re fast, and they play the right way. We have to match that.” 

Philipp Grubauer, named second star when the Kraken beat Carolina at Climate Pledge Arena last November in a 2-1 win. They’ll be looking for similar results and a bounce back effort after Grubauer labored through a 5-4 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the season opener last Thursday. 

“We just have to help ‘Grubie’ out with the second and third opportunities,” said defenseman Carson Soucy. “Box outs are a big thing against this team. For the rebounds, limit their sticks and second opportunities.” 

Grubauer replaced Martin Jones after the second period on Saturday and stopped all six shots he faced. 

The Kraken sent ten players out for an optional skate on Monday morning without any strong indication of planned line combinations and defensive pairings. What’s known is Shane Wright, who’s been in the press box last two games, will return to the lineup this evening. 

Wright is searching for his first NHL goal and point, logging over six minutes of ice time in the opener against Anaheim. 

“We’ve got such a busy schedule, so number one, it’s important to be involved in games and be involved in game action – and continue to grow,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. 

“The biggest thing is staying confident and continuing to grow. For him, he’ll be excited to be in the lineup against a good hockey team.”

The Hurricanes, expected to start goaltender Fredrik Andersen, are off to a 2-0 start after a win last Friday at San Jose and carrying heightened expectations after last year’s run under head coach Rod Brind’Amour. They return leading scorer Sebastian Aho along with key pieces such as defenseman Jaccob Slavin, forward Andrei Svechnikov, offseason pickup Brent Burns from San Jose via trade, and (currently injured) forward Max Pacioretty. 

In only the third matchup ever against the Kraken between the two teams, Brind’Amour sees a simple approach. 

“They’re a lot more talented team last year,” Brind’Amour said. “You’re going to get a hard-working game, it’s the National Hockey League. It’s just a matter of us, boring as ever, but it’s about our game. How are we going to get to it right away?” 

The Kraken split last season’s series at 1-1. 

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