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Game Preview: Kraken vs. Blackhawks

Two Kraken Players In Game
Photo credit: @jennthulhu_photos on Instagram

The Need To Knows:


The Time: 7:00pm PT

The Place: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA

Place to Watch: ROOT-NW, NBCSCH (Out of market: ESPN+ and Sportsnet+)

Place to Listen: KJR 93.3fm

An Opposing Viewpoint: Second City Hockey

Know Your Enemy:

THAT’S KRAKEN HOCKEY BABY!

I am thrilled, THRILLED! to be writing the preview for this meaningless, late season game versus an inferior foe. The Kraken are going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now on to a brief preview, because the opponent is a National Hockey League club, and the points still can hold a great deal of importance.

Forwards: The dynasty is well over in Chicago, Patrick Kane left town for one last shot with the New York Rangers and captain Jonathan Toews has been a shadow of his former self following a bout with long Covid. When Taylor Raddysh is your team’s leading scorer, it’s pretty safe to assume the rebuild is underway. Likewise when that player is minus 28. The Blackhawks have scored the least goals in the league this season, and are in the top 10 (worst) in goals allowed.

Defence: Seth Jones has not been earning his massive contract this season (10G ,23A, 33P and -37). Caleb Jones, at a seventh of the cost, has half his brother’s points, but is also deep in the negatives. Connor Murphy leads the Hawks’ defence in games played and penalty minutes, and he delivers more than two hits per game with his 6’4″, 212 lb frame. Number one priority for the Kraken is to keep everyone healthy between now and April 13th, so avoiding that contact is important. The visitors have had 14 different players line up on the blueline this season, another sure sign of a team that isn’t fully in sync (for reference, the Kraken have had 9).

Goaltending: Alex Stalock is the Blackhawk netminder with the better save percentage at .912 on the year, but Petr Mrazek is the one who stole a win this week against the Calgary Flames. Stalock was between the pipes against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, so Mrazek seems likely to get the start. Looking at Mrazek’s career numbers, it seems he does well playing behind a good team, but when things are breaking down in front of him, he’s not able to maintain those stats. A beatable goalie on a beatable team.

Game Preview:

There’s a risk of a drop off after the emotional high of the previous game, or at least a sloppy start. The Kraken’s skill should win out, and I don’t believe coach Dave Hakstol will consider resting players yet with the Western Conference standings still bunched together. Depending on how the rest of the division and conference finish their schedules any two points might be the difference between playing a preferred opponent and a dreaded one.

I can’t see an “easy” match up, other than the Winnipeg Jets, who there’s no chance for Seattle to meet in Round One. Possibly Minnesota would be best with their relative lack of offence, but they took the Kraken to the woodshed recently and play a very disciplined game, which suggests good coaching (Dean Evason). He’s won 2/3’s of his pro games as bench boss but has a less flattering playoff record. All that aside, Seattle should focus on what should be an easy win, stay healthy as always, and then it’s on to Arizona (again, and for the last time this year).

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