The last pre-holiday game preview: Kraken take on the Canucks

The Need to Knows

The Time: 7 pm PT / 10 pm ET

The Place: Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC

Where to Watch: ROOT-NW (ESPN+ for out-of-market fans, Sportsnet+ in Canada)

Where to Listen: KJR 93.3 FM

An Opposing Viewpoint: Nucks Misconduct

Know Your Enemy

The Canucks are a team in search of an identity right now. They have a decent amount of talent, especially for a 13-15-3 club that’s currently 9 standings points out of a wild card spot. Up front, it’s Elias Pettersson leading the way with 34 points in 29 games. Then there’s J.T. Miller, who led the team last season with 99 points and was rewarded with a 7-year contract. They’ve also got 26-year old Russian rookie Andrei Kuzmenko, who has shown no issues switching from the KHL to the NHL, as he’s already up to 26 points in 30 games. Brock Boeser is an ever-present scoring threat and Conor Garland is extremely frustrating to play against.

And then there’s Bo Horvat, the captain. He’s in his ninth season in Vancouver and scoring at a point per game pace for the first time in his career. He also happens to be in a contract year, and the latest reports have indicated that the team and the player are pretty far off in terms of what they believe to be Horvat’s value. At this point, if the Canucks continue to trend downward, there’s a significant chance he gets traded before season’s end.

Oh, and they also have promising youngster Nils Höglander, but he’s not with the team right now because they sent him down to the AHL on his birthday.

On defense, they have a real star in Quinn Hughes, and five other supposed NHL players too. In net, Spencer Martin has taken the starting role while incumbent starter Thatcher Demko heals from a lower body-injury. Martin has an .885 save percentage in 17 appearances this season.

Game Preview

The Kraken have got themselves back in the win column recently, with two in a row against Winnipeg and St. Louis. Tuesday marked the first time Seattle had ever beaten the Blues, and with any luck they can keep that “franchise first” energy rolling tonight as they look for their first win ever against the Canucks. The bottom six for Seattle continues to be arguably their biggest strength — Daniel Sprong, Morgan Geekie, and Ryan Donato have combined for 19 goals this season while averaging less than 11 minutes of ice time per game. Donato in particular is on quite a heater, scoring a goal in each of his last four games while playing alongside Yanni Gourde on the third line.

The Canucks are a very beatable team, but they also have the skill to drop 5 or 6 goals on you on any given night. Seattle has got to stay out of the penalty box to keep Vancouver’s chances down — the Canucks have a top-10 power play in the NHL right now, thanks to Quinn Hughes and his 14 power play assists (but no power play goals for him yet).

Can the Kraken continue their winning ways and send us off on a holiday break in a good mood? We’ll find out at 7!