Where: Climate Pledge Arena
When: Saturday, December 11, 2021; 7:00pm PST
Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the Columbus Blue Jackets
Local TV: ROOT Sports Northwest
Local Radio: 950 AM KJR, KZOK 102.5 FM
SiriusXM: Channel 219
Last Time Out
Back in October when Seattle visited Columbus the Kraken played a tight defensive game and managed to take a 1-0 lead into the 3rd period. Feisty forechecking by Eric Robinson led to the tying goal, and then this happened...
Stats, Streaks, & Droughts
Seattle is lucky, they are catching the Blue Jackets in the throes of a losing streak. The road has not been kind to Columbus in the last two weeks: they have lost each of their last five games on the road, plus one at home, to go 1-5-1 in their last seven contests. Mind you, on the year they are 5-1-1 against Pacific Division teams.
The Kraken, for their part, are 5-3-1 in their last 9, but have lost two in a row and 3 of the last 4. But take some solace in the fact that all but one of the Kraken’s opponents in that 9-game stretch are ahead of them in the standings. Not hard to do these days, I admit...
But what’s noteworthy is Seattle’s scoring drying up after so recently showing such offensive potential. The Kraken notched 18 goals in the four games against Florida, Buffalo, Detroit, and Edmonton; but they have been outscored 9-1 in the last 120 minutes of play. As we saw against Winnipeg, the Kraken know how to maintain possession and get high-danger chances; they just aren’t finishing.
Players To Watch
For Columbus, Patrik Laine’s extended absence means other forwards have had to step in to fill the scoring void. Boone Jenner has answered the call with 11 goals so far this season...
Jenner’s linemate Oliver Bjorkstrand is leading the team in points, notching 8 goals and 13 assists...
And Alexandre Texier has rebounded from an early-season demotion to the fourth line, and is an eyelash shy of matching his career high in points despite being barely a third of the way through the season.
But the real thing to remember about Columbus is, the goals come from everywhere. 20 guys have at least 1 goal for the team this season, and the Blue Jackets have a dozen players with double-digit point totals. Just like Seattle, their team concept is scoring-by-committee.
For Seattle, as we mentioned, the goals has been few and far between of late. But when this team gets their confidence back, they can put together some pretty plays — like this Jaden Schwartz tally against Buffalo...
...or Jordan Eberle finishing the feed from Joonas Donskoi...
Let’s hope they can reignite that fire today and put some points on the board.
Injuries, Illness, & Scratches
For Columbus, they are without the services of defensemen Dean Kukan and Adam Boqvist, and forward Nathan Gerbe. Powerhouse winger Patrik Laine could return from a strained oblique injury for this tilt, but there’s no official word as of this writing.
For Seattle, things got thrown in to chaos earlier today during morning skate. Officially, goaltender Chris Driedger is off injured reserve and will be available to back up Philipp Grubauer. Yanni Gourde and Riley Sheahan, however, have entered the league Covid protocol. They join Colin Blackwell, who was placed there earlier this week.
Meanwhile Alexander True has been recalled from Charlotte, though it is unclear if he will make it to Seattle in time to play in tonight's game; make sure you follow us on Twitter for the latest — we’ll post an update when we know more about what’s happening.
- After showing signs of life, the Kraken power play has gone dormant once more. They are not getting many opportunities, however they have not notched a power play goal since their visit to Detroit.
- Columbus’ goaltending hasn’t been as impenetrable as they expected. De facto starter Elvis Merzlikins is responsible for 10 of Columbus’ 13 wins this season, with Joonas Korpisalo posting unimpressive numbers before going on injured reserve earlier this month. Merzlikins is the likely starter tonight.
- Philipp Grubauer is the starter for Seattle; whether that’s good news or not depends on which version of Grubauer shows up — the one who stops 35 shots in a 2-1 win over Carolina, or the one who lets in 3 goals on 4 shots in just 5 minutes before getting the hook against Pittsburgh.
- No “revenge game” today — Seattle selected defenseman Gavin Bayreuther (you are forgiven for saying, “Who?”) from Columbus in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, but he entered free agency the following week and signed with his old team. Bayreuther has been out of the Blue Jackets’ lineup the last three games, but he is in town and is probable to play.