Cale Fleury hasn’t been used to this much but is making the best of it.
After sitting out eight games in a row, the fifth year pro defenseman, sticking all year with the Seattle Kraken but managing only three games due to a healthy and crowded blueline, will come off the shelf for a 3pm PT face-off against the Florida Panthers.
“I just need to be steady,” said Fleury. “Especially not playing for a little bit, just keeping it simple and assuming easy plays to get my feet under me.”
The move is necessitated xin the absence of the large, imposing, and lumbering Jamie Oleksiak, suspended three games by the league on Saturday for his check to the head on Alexander Alexeyev and match penalty in Friday’s loss to the Washington Capitals. Justin Schultz, his routine defensive partner, is a likely match for Carson Soucy while Fleury may get minutes with Will Borgen, both as right shot defensemen.
“It’s about putting guys in situations to be successful,” said head coach Dave Hakstol, who hinted at possible shuffling mid-game of the pairings. “We’ve had some history with this group of six, the way we use them, and the rhythm that we use them.”
In Fleury, the challenge is to respond to the pace of the Panthers.
“Defending and first pass is huge against a team like this, that generates and gets up ice as well as they do,” said Hakstol.
The news gets sunnier in Florida for the Kraken up front, getting Jaden Schwartz back after missing Friday with an upper body ailment.
Philipp Grubauer, who took the loss on Friday despite a stellar 34 save effort, will take a breather in place of starter Martin Jones.
The assignment for Jones will be of redemption, in net for the Kraken 5-1 loss to Florida five days ago. The Panthers, coming off a 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay, will play in their second of back-to-back games. Matthew Tkachuk, without a doubt, will be the primary target of containment.
Since the Kraken opened up as an expansion team, Tkachuk has ten points in five lifetime meetings, covering time with the Calgary Flames and Panthers.
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP VS. FLORIDA, 12/11: