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Let’s Play Two, Part One: Kings vs. Kraken

A new-look Seattle squad gears up for back-to-back games in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Kings v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

What: Seattle Kraken at Los Angeles Kings

Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA

When: Saturday, March 26, 2022; 7:30pm PDT, and
Monday, March 28, 2022; 7:30pm PDT

Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the Los Angeles Kings

Coverage

Local TV: ROOT Sports NW

Streaming: ESPN+

Local Radio: 950 AM KJR

SiriusXM: Channel 219 (Saturday) and Channel 91 (Monday)

Last Time Out

In the only previous meeting between these two clubs at Climate Pledge Arena, the Kings and Kraken played a largely defensive and sloppy affair — errant passes, fumbled receptions, and wildly off-target shots were the order of the day for both clubs most of the night. LA took the lead late in the first period, then extended it in the second going up 2-0. Mid-way through the second period Kraken Legend Marcus Johansson scored Seattle’s lone goal on the power play to cut the lead in half. But a second goal from the Kings’ Phillip Danault provided the insurance LA needed to secure the 3-1 win. Chris Driedger had 19 saves in the loss for the Kraken.

Stats, Streaks, & Droughts

Los Angeles is playing decent hockey of late, but the way they are achieving those results can’t be stuffed into a single category. They have are 35-22-9 on the year, good for 79 points and second place in the Pacific Division, with a 5-3-2 record in their last 10 games. For a while they were eking out one-goal games that stretched into overtime and shootouts, but of late they have gone the other direction — getting blown out 5-0 by the San Jose Sharks, then winning 6-1 over the Nashville Predators. Their latest outing was a 4-3 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

Seattle has a two-game win streak going into this weekend, though their game strategy looks something like this: out-duel the opponent in the first, but have nothing to show for it; fall to pieces, either completely or partially, in the second; then take the lead for good in the third and notch the win. Their 4-5-1 record over their last 10 isn’t going to strike fear in the hearts of any opponents, nor is their 9-20-3 road record. But with the uncertainty of the trade deadline behind them, hopefully the Kraken can get comfortable with their new line-mates and stay in the hunt against the Kings.

Players To Watch

The Kings have taken a scoring-by-committee approach, but team captain Anze Kopitar is running away as the points leader with 16 goals and 39 assists:

Top-line winger Adrian Kempe is a frequent recipient of those Kopitar helpers; he leads the team in goals with 28:

And former Canadiens’ center Phillip Danault is steadily among the team leaders with 21 goal sand 18 assists in 63 games:

For the Kraken we’re going to highlight new acquisition Daniel Sprong, who lit the lamp in his first game with Seattle. We have more on him in Odds & Ends below:

Injuries, Illnesses, Additions, & Scratches

The Kings’ roster looks like a triage unit as they prepare to take on Seattle. Defensemen Sean Walker and Michael “Mikey” Anderson are on LTIR; the Injured Reserve list includes forwards Dustin Brown, Andreas Athanasiou, and Brendan Lemieux, as well as blueliners Drew Doughty and Matt Roy. Additionally, defenseman Tobias Björnfot is on the main roster but nursing an injury, and is questionable for this weekend. The Kings did get some good news this past week, with defenseman Alexander Edler returning after missing three months with a broken ankle, and forward Viktor Arvidsson rejoining the lineup on Thursday against Chicago.

LA made three small deals in the days leading up to the trade deadline; the only evidence of those moves will be defenseman Troy Stecher donning a Kings jersey for his second game with the club on Saturday. As far as netminders, Kings goalies Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen have been splitting duties roughly 60/40 this year. It’s quite likely we get a look at both in this two-game series.

For the Kraken, a flurry of trade deadline activity plus the return of both Joonas Donskoi and Karson Kuhlman resulted in the following line combinations for the game against Arizona:

With the success the club had against the Coyotes, we expect the forward lines to remain the same in Los Angeles. The only potential change on defense involves Haydn Fleury, who left Tuesday’s game in the 2nd period and did not return. This may allow waiver wire acquisition Derrick Pouliot to see his first action in a Kraken sweater. Follow us on Twitter to get the latest game-day updates for both Saturday and Monday.

Odds & Ends

  • Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis has declared that he wants to “build a team through the draft.” The Kings lineup you see this weekend is a product of that exact strategy. Fully 10 of the 20 guys wearing a Kings uniform are Los Angeles draft picks — starting with Anze Kopitar (1st round, 2005) and Jonathan Quick (3rd round, 2005); all the way to Arthur Kaliyev (2nd round, 2019) and Quinton Byfield (1st round, 2020). Seven of those players are 23 years old or younger.
  • Dion Phaneuf played his last games in the NHL with Los Angeles. He played 93 games in a Kings uniform, scoring 4 goals and adding 12 assists while racking up a minus-28 rating. The Kings still have over $1 million to pay on his contract buyout both this year and next.
  • Kraken fans got their first look at recent trade acquisition Daniel Sprong on Tuesday, with the young winger scoring a goal in his first game with the club. On paper he was a throw-away to make the money work for the Washington Capitals in the Marcus Johansson trade. But a look at his numbers in Juniors and the AHL shows a staggering amount of offensive up-side — four straight point-per-game seasons in Junior, and another one with the AHL. He has the potential to be the pure sniper that Kraken roster lacks — if he is allowed to play his game. The question, therefore, is: will he?
  • There is another important game Kraken fans can tune in for this weekend. After their win over American International College on Friday, Seattle’s first-round draft selection Matty Beniers and the Michigan Wolverines will continue their pursuit of the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey National Championship when they take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Sunday. Beniers had a goal and an assist in MU’s 5-3 victory. Sunday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN2; check your local listings for the start time.
  • And finally, here’s the latest on the Shane Wright Sweepstakes. Two wins in a row puts the Kraken at 46 points, one game ahead of both Montreal and Arizona with 44 points; going into tonight’s action each team has 18 games remaining on their schedule. The worst team in the league gets the best odds in the NHL Entry Draft Lottery, and as such the best chance of drafting consensus overall #1 Shane Wright.