Oliver Bjorkstrand has to wait a little longer for the lumber cavalry.
He broke his final stick out of a recent batch that helped deliver a little more offensive success and has a new shipment on order. In the meantime, Bjorkstrand, with an old stick, will be reunited with his old linemates from the start of the season when the Seattle Kraken visit the Washington Capitals tonight, 4pm PT at Capital One Arena.
For the first time in two months, the surging Kraken will be looking to break back-to-back losses in regulation. Bjorkstrand is expected to play on the right side of Alex Wennberg, while Andre Burakovsky moves back to the left wing. The move was necessary in the absence of Jaden Schwartz, ruled out for tonight’s game with an upper body ailment and is monitored as day-to-day.
“You play with those guys, maybe you’ll get a little more ice time, a little more opportunities,” said Bjorkstrand, together with the aforementioned line for the first time since Nov. 11.
So, for the time being, he’ll play elsewhere aside from previous center Yanni Gourde, together for ten games in a row.
How much will he miss him?
“I have to forecheck now,” said Bjorkstrand, deadpanning.
Bjorkstrand, who isn’t afraid to shoot the puck but has gone through a head-scratching slow start with three goals in 25 games, also perhaps could use the Capitals as a sparkplug, too. He’s scored five times in 16 career matchups (equating to a 25-goal season), tied with Jordan Eberle for most on the Kraken against Washington.
Friday’s matchup will be the second time for the two teams in eight days, last playing in an epic 3-2 overtime comeback win for the Kraken in Seattle.
“You feel ready to play them, but it’s the same for them, so it’s going to even out that way," said Bjorkstrand. "We know what to expect from them, and we have to focus on our game.”
The Kraken will start former Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer, 3-1-1 against his former team.
“We’re pretty confident and comfortable, home and road,” head coach Dave Hakstol told 93.3 KJR-FM. “There’s a little different rhythm on the road with line matchups and pace of play. But this is a challenging building to play in. This team is playing well, they’re playing air tight.”
The Capitals, who will see Justin Schultz (free agency) and Daniel Sprong (trade) for the first time since dispatching them to the Kraken in the last nine months, will be back home off a grueling six-game trip but finishing with a 4-1 win at Philadelphia.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the win and leads the Capitals with 15 goals in 28 games, stands seven goals away from surpassing Gordie Howe for second in NHL history, and 99 behind the all-time leader, Wayne Gretzky.
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP VS. WASHINGTON, 12/9: