You could say this game means a lot to beat the holiday temptations.
You could say this game means a lot to beat the Vancouver Canucks.
Right now, the Seattle Kraken are so laser-focused on themselves where it means something else than just a geographic rival, roughly three hours of a drive north.
“I don’t think the group in our dressing room really cares about that,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “A lot of them had no part in it last year. These guys beat us at home a few weeks ago, they took two points out of possible divisional points.”
“We know they’re going to be at their best, so we have to be ready to beat them at their best.”
The two teams tussle in the last Kraken game before the holiday break, tonight, 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) at Rogers Arena.
The reality is, the Canucks haven’t been at their best much of this season but tend to save it for the Kraken. Both teams have met five times in franchise history. Vancouver has won them all. The Canucks were 0-5-2 to begin the season when they first met on October 27. Easy pickings, right?
Wrong. The Canucks beat the Kraken, 5-4 in Seattle for their first win of the year.
They are still way behind the playoff pace, nine points out. That brings in the importance of keeping the third place Kraken, who can tie the Kings for second tonight with a win and Los Angeles loss in regulation, ahead of the pack and the Canucks, who lost 5-1 in their last game on Monday to St. Louis.
After this game, the Kraken will host the Calgary Flames on Dec. 28 and the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 30.
“These games are extremely important, I’m not worried about it being last game before the break,” said Hakstol. “It’s an important two points against a division opponent. We have to be ready to go.”
Martin Jones will start in net for the Kraken, a North Vancouver native and owning a fruitful 10-4-1 record in 15 games against the Canucks in his career. He also owns a .931 save percentage against them.
Jones also won another round in net after a solid performance, Tuesday night in a 5-2 win against the Blues, allowing both goals with the game already out of reach.
The Kraken, aiming for their third straight win, will look for a “less is more” approach again, in an effort to temper the Canucks 11th ranked offense (3.2 goals per game) which is led by Bo Horvat’s 22 goals.
So where does it start?
“Forechecking, the little plays in the zone as wingers and a forward,” said forward Jared McCann, who owns eight points in 12 games against the Canucks, the team who drafted him. “We’ve been getting better last couple of games.”
“It’s going to come back down to it tonight, the little things, starting with the forecheck.”
Spencer Martin is expected to start in net for the Canucks, while their leading point getter, Elias Pettersson (34), is a game-time decision after missing the last two games, reportedly with the flu.
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP, DEC. 22 AT VANCOUVER: