Oleksiak returns from 3-game suspension with vow to "play physical"

San Jose Sharks v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 23: Jamie Oleksiak #24 of the Seattle Kraken celebrates his goal during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at Climate Pledge Arena on November 23, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

Fear of missing out is abbreviated as “FOMO,” for who choose the slang term, and is actually defined as a noun in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary as “fear of not being included in something (such as an interesting or enjoyable activity) that others are experiencing.” 

It’s definitely not as if the Seattle Kraken, who return home on Sunday at 5pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) against the Winnipeg Jets, enjoyed losing two of the last three games. But defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was still missing out. He’s a top four defenseman, valuable penalty killer, and just for the second time in his career spanning over 460 games - a suspended player. 

The price that’s paid for a physical transgression is also a hidden one, unable to be defined by the NHL Department of Player Safety: a temporary feeling of being the missing link. 

“Watching the games and wishing you could be out there, helping the boys,” said Oleksiak, when asked about the worst part of missing time. 

“We had some tough ones on the road and you wish you could be in the trenches, battling.” 

He returned to Kraken Community Iceplex on Saturday after finishing a three game suspension for a check to the head of Alexander Alexeyev eight days ago, who landed on injured reserve for the Washington Capitals. 

With Oleksiak’s matters settled, he’s back alongside his usual defensive partner Justin Schultz (who’s coincidentally missed two games since taking a high hit from Ryan Lomberg in Florida). He’ll chew up plenty of ice time, fourth on the Kraken at 18:43 per game. They also have their second leading cog, with regards to ice time standing at 3:05 per game, back in action for the penalty kill. 

You could understand any feelings of being pent up for his first game back against Winnipeg. But those emotions are being tempered. 

“I’m not trying to overthink things,” said Oleksiak. “Just have to go out there, play my game, play physical, and do what I can to help the boys win.” 

The Kraken will open a brief two-game homestand against the Jets on Sunday, which begins a much-needed antidote of five games out of the next six at home. The Kraken are limping mathematically, losing five out of the last six games. 

In three of those losses, the Kraken have fallen behind in a two-goal deficit in the first period. 

“Playing from behind is hard,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s reality, statistically. It’s more than giving up the first goal. It’s a hard league to play from behind in. 

“Whether you’re looking up in the standings or trying to play catch up in the first ten minutes, none of those formulas are ideal.” 

The Kraken, 12-3-1 when scoring the first goal, will get a Winnipeg team that beat them in overtime, 3-2 last time out in Seattle on November 13. That game served as the catalyst for a six game win streak, where the Kraken seized second place in the Pacific Division and were banging on the door of the first place Vegas Golden Knights. 

Times have changed a bit since then. But Oleksiak said the message has not. 

“The veterans are key when you’re in a rut, to right the ship,” said Oleksiak. “Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.” 

With goaltender Martin Jones pulled from an original starting assignment on Thursday and an emergency backup goaltender ready for duty at Saturday’s practice, Hakstol said both Grubauer and Jones will be eligible to start on Sunday. 

No starter has been announced, with Winnipeg set to play in the second of back-to-back games on Sunday. 

“We’re playing against a team that tied a game up and beat us in overtime,” said Hakstol. “We want to get at it here (Sunday night).” 

NOTES: With Schultz and Oleksiak back and participating in regular drills, the Kraken removed defenseman Gustav Olofsson from the roster later on Saturday afternoon … no transaction has been announced ... as customary for this season, Jaden Schwartz skated before the start of practice in a non-contact role and in a track suit, with newcomer Eeli Tolvanen taking rushes on his line with Alex Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstrand. 




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