The Need to Knows:
The Time: 1pm PT
The Place: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Washington
Place to Watch: ROOT Northwest, BSSUN, Out of market: ESPN+,Sportsnet+ in Canada
Place to Listen: KJR 93.3fm
An Opposing Viewpoint: Raw Charge
Know Your Enemy:
For a change, the Tampa Bay Lightning decided not to win the Stanley Cup last year, instead giving the Colorado Avalanche an opportunity to have the experience. But while they sit third in their division, they’re a virtual lock to participate in the postseason once again, and a threat to win. This year may be the fading dynasty’s last shot at another championship with this core.
Forwards: Led by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, the Lightning can produce up front. Behind them is a solid veteran group that includes Pat Maroon and journeyman Corey Perry. The lineup has plenty of experience, but not everyone is long in the tooth. Brandon Hagel, at 24, is having a career year. The Lightning have to make it out of the Atlantic division before they’ll ever face the Kraken in the playoffs, which is something we should all be thankful for.
Defence: Remember when the Montreal Canadiens gave away Mikhail Sergachev to the Lightning in exchange for Jonathan Drouin and nothing else? Well today the 24 year old is leading Tampa Bay’s defense in scoring, even ahead of perennial Norris nominee Victor Hedman (Drouin has 12 assists, zero goals, and is -14 in 2022-23). Suffice it to say that Tampa’s defense is a strength. We may see Kraken alumnus Haydn Fleury patrolling the Lightning blue line as well.
Goaltender: Welp, it’s just one of the league’s best backing up this very strong lineup. Andrei Vasilevskiy hovers right around his career average save percentage of 0.919% and has 19 wins on the season. He’s 28 but doesn’t appear to be slowing down just yet. He went 19th over all back in 2012, and if you go back and look at the top selections that year, you might have questions about what the league’s amateur scouts were smoking. Vasilevskiy is very good.
It’s a strong team front to back, better on paper than the Kraken, and that was apparent in the 6-2 drubbing Seattle received in their last meeting. But the Kraken just knocked off the Boston Bruins, setting an NHL record along the way, and should be brimming with confidence. Tampa comes in riding a three game win streak of its own. So while the outcome isn’t foretold either way, it certainly won’t be a cake walk.
The Lightning win more than they lose, but stats show that when they’re away from home and their opponent scores first, they have a losing record. It might be self evident, but the Kraken need to come out hot, get ahead and stay ahead. A slow start will likely equal a loss. Our team is just home from their long road trip, but they should be able to get up for this one in front of a home crowd that is going to be pumped to see the team in action under the lights at Climate Pledge.