At seven wins in a row, the Seattle Kraken aren’t looking for much change.
Nor should they. Stopping short of estimating they’ve found the game’s set of magic beans, what’s been constant over the last month has worked. They’re getting out to early leads, they’re producing an offensive tidal wae, and more often than not, aside from a couple of defensive speedbumps on a recent road trip, they’re playing within a contained defensive blueprint.
All of that lines up against an Eastern Conference foe that led the league in offense and won the President’s Trophy last year, the Florida Panthers, in a 7pm PT puck drop (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network) at Climate Pledge Arena.
“Not a lot of our wins have been perfect for 60 minutes,” said defenseman Vince Dunn, who has six points in the last five games on the blueline.
“But overall, we’re battling adversity very well, getting down by goals. It shows a lot of character.”
Dunn hasn’t left the side of Adam Larsson all year, who as a pair have shouldered the two heaviest minutes, overall and at five-on-five situations. They differ in style: Dunn, the more offensive-minded of the two and is , also quarterbacks the top power play unit. Larsson, befitting of a classic shutdown defenseman, uses brute strength to his advantage.
The key to succeeding together is trust.
“I think communication is the biggest thing,” said Dunn. “We watch a lot of video but it comes down to trust each other, and just knowing what each other’s habits are. We understand each other’s individual playing style. The differences in each other’s game complement each other well.”
“Those two have chemistry, and have most history number of games together,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Both are comfortable getting up ice and getting into motion in offensive zone. They’ve been able to be effective.”
Along with four fellow blueliners, the numbers suggest they will have their hands full. The Panthers lead the league with 39 shots per game, and are a tick over 38 on the road, also most in the NHL. Though Anthony Duclair (who hasn’t played at all) and Aleksander Barkov (four straight games) are missing due to injury, they still possess new acquisition Matthew Tkachuk, who leads the Panthers with 32 points in 22 games.
“If we feed their transition and feed their second chances, they’re going to hurt you,” said Hakstol. “Our message hasn’t changed to our players.”
Florida ranks tenth in the league in offense – squared up against the high tempo Kraken offense, scoring an obscene five goals per game during the win streak.
The Panthers want energy to disrupt the Kraken attack.
“They’ve a very strong five-on-five team and they’re quick with the puck,” said Panthers head coach Paul Maurice.
“Execution will be very important, how we move the puck. What we do off that puck movement – our ability to defend – which was our strength against Vancouver, I thought we were very quick. Any possession changeover, we were right to defense.”
Philipp Grubauer, in net for the 3-2 overtime victory against the Capitals on Thursday, will start for the Kraken and opposed by Spencer Knight.
PROJECTED LINEUP, KRAKEN VS FLORIDA, 12/3