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Big Game Hunting: Kraken Host the Panthers

First place Florida looks to avenge a home loss in Seattle

Seattle Kraken v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

What: Florida Panthers at Seattle Kraken

Where: Climate Pledge Arena

When: Sunday, January 23, 2022; 6:00pm PST

Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the Florida Panthers

Coverage

Local TV: ROOT Sports NW

Streaming: ESPN+

Local Radio: 950 AM KJR

SiriusXM: Channel 219

Last Time Out

On their visit to Florida back in November, the Kraken bounced back from a 3-0 drubbing the night prior in Tampa, taking the Panthers to school and posting a 4-1 victory on the back of Chris Driedger and his 33 save effort against his former team. Ryan Donato and Jamie Oleksiak lit the lamp to go along with a pair from Jordan Eberle, and Seattle managed to get out of the Alligators, Theme Parks, and Mosquitos As Big As Your F***ing Sister State with a .500 record.

The stat that jumps out at you from this tilt is face-offs. Overall Seattle won an astonishing 61% of their draws against Florida, led by centers Morgan Geekie and Alex Wennberg who combined for a record of 24 face-off wins to just 6 losses — an 80% success rate. If Seattle can pull that off again tonight they’ll have a chance for another upset.

Stats, Streaks, & Droughts

Make no mistake, Seattle is about to walk straight into a buzz saw. Florida is first in the Atlantic Division, first in the league (!!!), and have won 8 of their last 10. However, their home record of 21-3-0 stands in sharp contrast to how they play on the road, where they are just 7-5-5.

This team wins by scoring, not defense; their 165 goals scored leads the league, though they allow an average number of goals against. Lately they have been running up the score on opponents, scoring six or more goals in 5 of their last 12 games — including two in which they cranked in nine. They take a staggering number of shots, averaging more than 36 per game, however they are also 8th in the league in shots allowed. Goaltending gets them through to the win column, with starter Sergei Bobrovsky and his .925 SV% responsible for 20 of the Panthers’ 28 wins. They are never shut out, and over half of their losses are one-goal games.

Seattle just had their two-game win streak squashed in decisive fashion by the St. Louis Blues on Friday night. Those two wins are the only victories dating back to mid-December, with the Kraken 2-7-1 in their last 10 outings, still occupying the basement of the Pacific Division.

Seattle’s problem plays right into Florida’s hands — they get scored on, a lot, and can’t find the net themselves. In the most recent 10 losses the Kraken have given up 42 goals while scoring just 19. This is the unstoppable force meets the easily movable object.

Players To Watch

Florida’s scoring comes from the trifecta of 17-goal forwards, starting with Anthony Duclair:

Then comes Sam Bennett, who sat out the game against the Canucks on Friday and is questionable for tonight:

And finally Alexander Barkov, who has accumulated his 32 points in just 28 games:

Seattle is also going to have to watch out for Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers’ point leader, with 15 goals and 40 assists (!) in 41 games:

Injuries, Illnesses, Additions, & Scratches

Florida is mostly healthy coming into tonight, with nearly all of the key players expected to be in uniform. Winger Noel Acciari and defenseman Markus Nutivaara are on LTIR; blueliner Olli Juolevi is on injured reserve; the aforementioned Bennett is officially day-to-day and may not suit up; backup goaltender Jonas Johansson and LD Gustav Forsling are in COVID-19 protocol. We expect Bobrovsky to get the start, as youngster Spencer Knight got the shootout win over Vancouver two nights ago.

No changes to the lineup are expected for Seattle: forwards Jaden Schwartz and Brandon Tanev are nursing injuries; goaltenders Chris Driedger and Antoine Bibeau are in COVID-19 protocol. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has missed the last 2 games with a non-COVID illness, his status for tonight is currently unknown. The only other roster move is that forward Alexander True was taken off the Taxi Squad and returned to Charlotte.

Odds & Ends

  • Jumbo Joe Thornton is expected to be in the lineup tonight. He passed the 1,700-game mark earlier this month.
  • The Joonas Donskoi No-Goal Vigil continues: 40 games, 14 assists, but still hasn’t lit the lamp.
  • If Seattle is losing at the end of the first, kiss it goodbye: their 17 losses when behind after one period leads the league.
  • Davy Jones is still the goodest good boy, even if his win streak is over...
Seattle Kraken Davy Jones Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images