Daniel Sprong’s education in a Washington Capitals sweater was productive, to say the least.
After arriving at the trade deadline last year in exchange for Marcus Johansson, the six-foot forward has enjoyed a rejuvenated start to this season with 13 points and a +8 rating in 15 games.
It’s helped by watching a certain former teammate, Alex Ovechkin, and taking notes during his previous stay.
“Someone I learned a lot from in Washington,” said Sprong. “He’s an unbelievable guy and it’s going to be fun playing against him tonight.”
Sprong gets his taste of the reunion at 7:00pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) when the Seattle Kraken host the Washington Capitals at Cimate Pledge Arena, Ovechkin’s only visit to Seattle for the regular season to start the Kraken three-game homestand.
Sprong said he’s kept in close contact with former teammates on the Capitals side, who will join starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer, defenseman Justin Schultz, and leading scorer Andre Burakovsky as former Capitals facing their former team – Grubauer and Burakovsky as a part of the team’s Stanley Cup title four years ago.
The Kraken, coming off one of the most offensively unhinged games in the past 35 years of NHL history, a 9-8 overtime win at Los Angeles on Tuesday, understand the assignment ahead.
“Like every game, you evaluate for what it is,” said head coach Dave Hakstol.
“Biggest thing is you have to go out and execute it tonight. So, we have to get back to the basics defensively, it’s quite obvious. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of getting back to who we are. This is going to be a competitive hockey game tonight.”
Defending as what Hakstol has coined as a unit of five will be imperative against the league’s third ranked goal scorer in NHL history, sitting 101 goals behind Wayne Gretzky’s all-time mark of 894. Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 13 goals and 23 points in 21 games this season.
The game will also set the table for a homecoming of Puget Sound native and self-claimed Mariners fan T.J. Oshie, who grew up playing youth hockey in the area, owned Sonics uniforms, nearly named his son after Ken Griffey Jr., and said is expecting up to 35 tickets out for family in attendance.
Oshie, who said he spent Wednesday’s off day visiting local family in Arlington and Everett, will come back to the place where he played on ice during a Seattle Thunderbirds intermission, at age ten.
“I played when this was Key Arena back in the day,” said Oshie. “In between periods, as a goalie for my brother’s team.”
“There will be some friendly faces after the match.”
Johansson, who has 11 points in 24 games during his second tour with the Capitals, will return to Climate Pledge Arena for the first time since last season’s trade. The Capitals, missing forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson due to injuries, sit at 10-11-3 (23 points) and three points out of a playoff spot.
PROJECTED LINEUP, KRAKEN VS WASHINGTON, 12/1: