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Kraken vs. Oilers PREVIEW: Climate change battles Climate Pledge

Player Photography provided by @Jennthulhu_Photos on Instagram

The Need to Knows

  • Time: 1:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm ET
  • Place: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA
  • Where to watch: ROOT Sports NW, Sportsnet PIT, ESPN+
  • Where to listen: KJR 93.3 FM
  • Opposing viewpoint: Copper N Blue

Know Your Enemy

Hockey seasons are long and chaotic. Remember when the season started and the Oilers started out losing 10 of their first 12 games and we wondered if they would even make the playoffs?

Kris “new kids on” Knoblauch came in after a midseason firing and he has the Oilers sitting third in the Pacific division with 72 points and have a 98.8% playoff probability, per Moneypuck.

The Oilers are no longer the McDavid/Draisaitl show complemented with guys they found at 24 Hour Fitness. They’re an actual team that plays defense and has goaltending! Zach Hyman is a 40-goal scorer! That’s someone not named McDavid OR Draisaitl! Defenseman Evan Bouchard has 57 points in 57 games. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 54 points. This team has players all over the ice and while the point numbers are going to be inflated playing with two incredible playmakers, they have a lot of dangerous players.

And of course there’s Evander Kane, who has not one, but two hat tricks against the Kraken over his career.

But the Oilers aren’t not about McDavid, who continues to assert himself as the best player in the world. He has 22 assists in his last nine games. In 55 games, he has 22 goals and 72 assists.

Yeah we get it Connor, you’re good at hockey. Sheesh. Nobody likes a tryhard.

Game Preview

Seattle is in a fight for their playoff lives. Nashville has been extraordinarily annoying by winning seven games in a row, which is really squashing Seattle’s playoff equity, currently about 25%. The playoffs aren’t out of reach, but Seattle needs to go on a run and they absolutely need to capture every possible point they can.

The Kraken have responded to the urgency and have played with the desperation the hockey team needs to play with if they need to make the postseason. Philipp Grubauer has been extremely sharp since his return from injury. Look to see who Dave Hakstol starts in net. Will he continue to ride the hot goalie in Grubauer (which is his general tendency it seems), or embrace the full tandem nature with a 1 and 1a with Daccord?

On the injury front, André Burakovsky practiced yesterday after missing Thursday’s game against the Penguins. Everyone else, as far as we know, is healthy.

The Kraken have had a rough time with the Oilers historically. It’s hard when you have not one, but two firebreathing dragons to defend. Key will be staying out of the penalty box, as the Oilers have the league’s third-best power play.

If they falter their next two games and fall out of playoff contention, we could see key pieces moved before the March 8th trade deadline. Every game is critical at this point. Seattle isn’t just playing for a playoff spot, but also potentially if upcoming UFAs like Alex Wennberg, Justin Schultz, Jordan Eberle, and Tomáš Tatar will make it to the end of the season in a Seattle uniform.

I don’t want to think about that reality, so Seattle better win.

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