A trip to Minnesota isn’t like a random Thursday night on the road.
At least that’s what the geography suggests for Will Borgen, Carson Soucy, Karson Kuhlman, Ryan Donato and even front office executive Alexandra Mandrycky.
With Minnesota Wild or college hockey ties that bind a 5pm PT puck drop (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network), the Seattle Kraken aim for their fourth win in five games against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
“I’ve played in this rink all the time, it’s fun being home knowing there’s people in the stands watching you,” said Borgen, a St. Cloud State alum and Morehead, Minn. native.
“It’s always nerve-wracking before an NHL game, but once you’re out there you just get back to your game and let your nerves settle in.”
Borgen, who had “quite a few” people who came to watch his first visit last year, wasn’t sure how many friends or family would be in attendance except for family, close friends, and former college teammates this time.
What’s certain is the Kraken will have a boost in net again. Martin Jones, out of commission for Tuesday’s win at Calgary to stay at home for a personal matter, and six days removed from the birth of his son, Rory, has returned to the team and will start in net tonight.
“Good to have Jonesy back,” said Hakstol of his goaltender, coming off a 32-save win against the Penguins last Saturday.
The second year Kraken head coach, who left a decorated college hockey bench job for the NHL last decade after spending time at national power North Dakota, a five-hour drive away from the Twin Cities, said he spent Wednesday evening to enjoy an evening family.
“It always come down to the people,” said Hakstol. “So many friendly faces and familiar faces, so it’s always nice to come back and say hello.”
Jared McCann reportedly did not skate this morning, leaving his status and offensive production in jeopardy for what will be a game time decision. His five goals are tied with Matty Beniers and Jaden Schwartz, also coming off a run of six points in the last six games.
In his place at morning skate was forward Shane Wright, looking to make an impact after sitting out as a healthy scratch for the last four games.
Minnesota, starting out at a head-scratching 0-3 pace, has picked up the tempo with a 5-1-1 run in the last seven games. They will reportedly miss a large chunk of their top six forward corps, with Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman and Jordan Greenway nursing injuries and forcing head coach Dean Evason into potentially using a group of 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Evason sees no easy way out against a Kraken team, he warned with much merit, is much improved.
“They lead the league in rushes, they lead the league in breakaways, they’re extremely offensive,” said Evason.
“This is not the Seattle Kraken from last year.”
Kirill Kaprizov leads the Wild with 13 points in ten games. Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net, opposite of Jones.
KRAKEN MORNING SKATE LINE RUSHES*:
* Kraken radio color analyst Dave Tomlinson contributed to this story.