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Cephalopod squad: Kraken vs Red Wings preview

Squids vs octopi, fight

An overhead shot above the Detroit net. Jaden Scwhartz is in the middle of the bluepaint trying to score surrounded by two Red Wings on either side, but the Detroit netminder is reaching out to make the save. Scwhartz is in the navy blue home jersey and the Detroit players are in their white away jerseys. Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

The Need to Knows

The Time: 7:30 pm PT / 10:30 ET

The Place: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA

Where to Watch: ROOT Northwest, ESPN+ for all other markets

Place to Listen: KJR 93.3fm

An Opposing Viewpoint: Winging it in Motown

Know Your Enemy

This is the first time all season that the Kraken have faced the Detroit Red Wings. If you find yourself unsure of exactly what Detroit has been up to all season, I’ll confess a little secret with you: before writing this, I really wasn’t sure either! For the most part, the team has been an unremarkable little blip in the Atlantic Division — not good enough to truly be in the playoff mix, not bad enough to be amongst the names of those who could be tanking for Connor Bedard.

Detroit has been in a rebuilding state for years. For multiple seasons, the fanbase has been putting their faith in the Yzerplan — named for general manager and Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman — in the hopes that once his efforts come to fruition, they’ll have a strong team of homegrown talent ready to bring hockey in the Motor City back to its former glory.

This isn’t that year.

Despite not reaching those heights yet, things have been trending ever slowly upward. They have a 55-point player in captain Dylan Larkin (for comparison, Jordan Eberle leads the Kraken with 42 points). For as much as Larkin is ahead of the rest of his team, young players like 21-year-old defenseman Moritz Seider are coming into their own. Seider has 26 assists going into this contest, showing that he could blossom into a strong playmaker on the Detroit blueline for years to come.

Detroit has also been a great ally to the Kraken as of late (it must be a cephalopod thing). The Red Wings are riding a 5-game win streak, and all of those wins have come against Pacific Division teams: two against Calgary, two against Vancouver, and one against Edmonton. The downside to this, though, is that it means the Red Wings have confidence coming into Seattle.

Game Preview

The Kraken are flying high after beating the Flyers 6-2, and they’ll be looking to capitalize on that momentum.

There’s been a bit of a theme throughout the past few Kraken games, and I think its key to the Kraken being able to pick up wins more consistently again — players have been breaking scoreless streaks. In Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, Eberle scored a goal for the first time in 12 games. Yanni Gourde’s two goals on Thursday against the Flyers were his first in 14 games (and his first points of any kind in 7 games). Matty Beniers went 10 games without scoring a single point — though not for lack of trying, and there was a pesky little injury in the middle of that drought — but he came out with a goal and an assist against on Thursday. These streaks weren’t because of an All-Star Break hangover either. These players hadn’t producing much since around mid-January.

While part of the Kraken’s strength is that they are able to roll four lines and that their contributions don’t fall on only a handful of stars, there’s still a hierarchy to these things. When a bunch of the top players aren’t producing all at the same time and the depth scoring doesn’t fully meet the challenge to fill in the gap, that’s part of how you get a mini slump like how the Kraken started their east coast (plus Winnipeg, randomly) road trip.

With these players getting on the scoresheet again, though, don’t expect the losing trend to continue. Combine an uptick in scoring with Philipp Grubauer putting up some stronger goaltending performances lately and the Kraken seem ready to keep challenging for that first place spot in the Pacific.