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Kraken look to close out the preseason on the right foot

What to watch for ahead of Seattle’s preseason finale against the Vancouver Canucks

NHL: Preseason-Vancouver Canucks at Seattle Kraken James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

It’s (preseason) game day!

The Seattle Kraken make their first of many trips to Rogers Arena tonight at 7pm to face their expected rival, the Vancouver Canucks. It’ll be the second exhibition match between these two teams, with Seattle notching a 5-3 win the first time around in Spokane, Washington.

While Canucks stars Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson are actually under contract with the team this go around, they’ll still be merely watching the game from the press box. The two skaters both signed deals north of $7 million AAV on Sunday and finally made it back on the ice this morning, but will need just a tad more warming up to do before they’re ready for a game.

Lineups

There area few other notable names in the Vancouver lineup tonight that should make this a more competitive contest than last time.

Seattle will get their first look at Canucks captain Bo Horvat as well as newly acquired defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson is looking for a fresh start after spending over a decade as the stalwart defender the Arizona Coyotes. His play declined a bit over the last few seasons, but sometimes a change of scenery is all a person needs to find their stride.

Perhaps the most impactful change in this Canucks lineup compared to their earlier contest is the addition of starting goaltender Thatcher Demko. Demko finished the 2020-2021 season with a save percentage of .915, 15th in the league among goalies with at least 20 starts. He looked even better according to some advanced statistics, saving over 8 more goals than expected based on the location of the shots he faced, according to Evolving Hockey. All in all, it should be much tougher for Seattle to score tonight than it was last time.

The Kraken, meanwhile, are trotting out what could potentially be their opening night lineup.

The only bummer here is the lack of a Kole Lind revenge game.

The forward lines get a little shakeup tonight, as the Swedish line of Alex Wennberg, Calle Järnkrok, and Marcus Johansson has been spread across the second line, third line, and the bench. Meanwhile the top line of Jaden Schwartz, Jared McCann, and Jordan Eberle suit up together again, all but carving their opening night role in stone.

On defense, the towering Jamie Oleksiak gets the night off and we’ll instead get a closer look at Carson Soucy in a top-4 role. This defense is deep, as Dennis Cholowski and Will Borgen are also scratched and defense still looks like a legitimate NHL blue line.

With Philipp Grubauer getting one last exhibition start, this one looks like it’ll be a great preview of the regular season for Seattle: a low-scoring, sound defensive battle that may come down to which team performs better on special teams. Seattle has taken 17 minor penalties in their last four games. Look for discipline to be a key aspect of their game tonight, as I’m sure that’s far more penalties to kill off than head coach Dave Hakstol would like.

Follow along

TIME: 7pm PST
WATCH: ROOT SPORTS or ROOTSPORTS.com with a cable provider
LISTEN: 950 KJR Sports