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On The Runway: Jets Host the Kraken

Seattle tries to score their first goal against Winnipeg

Winnipeg Jets v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

What: Seattle Kraken at Winnipeg Jets

Where: Canada Life Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

When: Thursday, February 17, 2022; 5:00pm PST

Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the Winnipeg Jets

Coverage

Local TV: ROOT Sports NW

National TV: NHL Network

Streaming: ESPN+

Local Radio: 950 AM KJR

SiriusXM: Channel 167

Last Time Out

Last time out was really this time out, as this is the re-scheduled game that was originally to have taken place on January 8th.

Before that, during the Jets’ only visit to Climate Pledge Arena, the Kraken were not able to solve Winnipeg netminder Connor Hellebuyck, who earned his 27th career shutout. The Kraken gave up the first goal of the game less than six minutes in on what is becoming their signature defensive-zone, behind-the-back blind pass directly on to an opponent’s stick. Winnipeg dominated in all three zones, with the Kraken only able to manage the occasional frenetic offensive push, and Philipp Grubauer’s 30 saves were not enough to get the job done. Final score: 3-0 Jets.

Stats, Streaks, & Droughts

This is the Jets’ third game in four days, and the second half of a back-to-back at home. Winnipeg lost 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, but roared back with a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild last night. Winnipeg is 4-7-2 in their last 13 games, and the aforementioned Hellebuyck has not looked like himself in that stretch. The cracks in the dam appeared on January 6th with a 7-1 shellacking at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. Since that game Hellebuyck has allowed five goals against in three games, and let in the fourth goal in OT losses twice. However, with Hellebuyck facing 36 shots last night against Minnesota, it’s likely we see Eric Comrie between the pipes for the Jets. More’s the pity.

Seattle is playing some decent hockey of late, as evidenced by their Corsi-For percentage stats ticking above the 50% mark over the last 10 games. The Kraken are 6-6-0 in their last 12, but that did not stop them from giving up goals at even strength, while short-handed, and even while on the power play in a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger allowed three goals each, with the night marred by bad bounces and fluke deflections ending up in both teams’ nets. With both goalies failing to meet the .800 SV% threshold in the last outing, it’s anybody’s guess as to who gets the start tonight. Get the latest info on tonight’s lineup by following us on Twitter.

Players To Watch

The Jets’ offense is led by left wing Kyle Connor, who has 27 goals and 24 assists for 51 points in 47 games. He does the most damage from the right circle on the power play, contributing 12 assists and 5 goals to his totals, including this one against Washington:

The other offensive powerhouse of late is center Mark Scheifele, who has 7+4=11 in just his last five games. His 40 points puts him second on the team, and occasionally he decides to put his teammates on his back and carry them to victory — as he demonstrated with panache just yesterday:

For Seattle, center Jared McCann continued his career-best performance on Monday, tallying his 20th goal of the season and breaking his single-season record (with 33 games to go). McCann has five goals and three assists in his last nine games, and leads the Kraken with 31 points. Monday’s five-hole snipe was a squeaker, but it counts!

The other hot hand on the Kraken clearly belongs to Calle Järnkrok. With his goal and assist in the game against Toronto, Järnkrok is now 7+6=13 in his last 17 outings. The ref gets the secondary assist on this one:

Injuries, Illnesses, Additions, & Scratches

Winnipeg’s roster looks like a triage unit these days, with five players out of the lineup. Left wing C.J. Seuss and defensemen Nathan Bealieu and Dylan Samberg are all on Injured Reserve; forwards Nik Ehlers and David Gustafsson are on LTIR. Forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and defenseman Neal Pionk emerged from COVID protocol over the past week and will be in the lineup tonight. As mentioned above, we suspect Eric Comrie will get the start in goal.

Seattle’s roster is slowly but surely returning to normal. Carson Soucy has taken reps at practice each day this week, but sat out against Toronto. Head coach Dave Hakstol says Soucy is expected to be available tonight. Colin Blackwell was held out of Monday’s game as well, but is expected back against the Jets. Brandon Tanev’s status hasn’t changed; Jaden Schwartz is still not participating in full practice, and Karson Kuhlman has no timetable for return. At present the Kraken have nobody in COVID protocol, and the Taxi Squad is empty. Expect Philipp Grubauer to get the start in goal.

Odds & Ends

  • The Jets’ current slump has looked very much like the Kraken in the early part of this season. Winnipeg has not put together back-to-back wins since the first week in January, and are now in very real danger of missing the playoffs. Secondary scoring is being blamed for the current troubles, with the Jets relying too heavily on their stars dominating the scoresheet. The Jets have tallied two goals or fewer 22 times this season; their record when that happens is 1-17-4.
  • Kraken forward Mason Appleton, selected from the Jets during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, went without a point in the first meeting between these two clubs. However, Appleton has two goals and two helpers in his last five games, so he is peaking at the right time to do some damage against his former team.
  • Tonight’s game will be a historic milestone in the broadcast booth, as radio play-by-play announcer Everett Fitzhugh will join TV color analyst J.T. Brown to form the first all-Black TV broadcast team in NHL history. This is just the latest example of how the Seattle Kraken are smashing through diversity barriers in the hockey world.
  • For those of you headed to the rink in the last half of the season, the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena announced new “family-priced” offerings on their concessions menu throughout the building. There is now a bigger selection of items below $10, including (according to the promotional material) cookies, chowder, mac and cheese, and even Miller Lite. That last one in particular is going to please a lot of Kraken fans.