Happy Saturday, friends in hockey:
Five games in eight days can take a toll. The Kraken have maneuvered two tough environments, plane travel, and another “let’s reset for the next one” routine tonight as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets – their only visit this season to Nationwide Arena.
In search of their first set of back-to-back wins in franchise history, we’ll document the anticipated return of Alex Wennberg, a former longtime Blue Jackets forward who served from 2014-20 and ranks top nine or better in points and assists, all-time. Acknowledging he did return last season with the Florida Panthers, that game was in an empty building. Tonight, fans will be in attendance, elevating the noise and environment to a scene that Wennberg remembers very well.
The emotional drive will be worth monitoring, as he’s off to a great start so far, with a pair of points in two games including a critical go-ahead goal on Thursday for a lead in Nashville, one the Kraken never let go ever again.
Notes for tonight:
-No Vince Dunn tonight, out with an undisclosed injury and is reportedly day-to-day. Haydyn Fleury will jump back into the lineup on the back end after sitting out Thursday.
-Philipp Grubauer will start his third consecutive game, and saved his best for last in the win at Nashville, stopping 12 of 13 shots in the third period while surviving a flurry of chances with under four minutes left.
-Wennberg last season, with the Panthers against the Blue Jackets: six points in eight games.
-Jared McCann, so far with three points (leading the Kraken) in two games and a constant together with linemates Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle, needs a goal tonight to match his career best goal streak, three games – previously matched with Pittsburgh two seasons ago.
-The Blue Jackets, under new head coach Brad Larsen, routed the Coyotes 8-2 on Thursday night in their opener,an emotional one to salute late goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, who tragically passed away last summer in a fireworks accident in Michigan on July 4. Former Portland Winterhawks forward Olivier Bjorkstrand, last season’s leader with 18 goals and 44 points, earned four points in the win in what he called “his most important game.”
I’ll bring you in with coverage at 3:30pm today on the Kraken Audio Network, with Ian Furness handling play-by-play while Everett Fitzhugh makes progress out of COVID-19 protocol.
·We’re podcasting! The Kraken Audio Network, with elements from game day coverage and original programming,are at your fingertips now via Apple Podcasts and iHeart!
·Flagship game coverage today: 1090 AM KJR, Classic Rock 102.5 KZOK
·Intermission: you’ll hear from Alex Wennberg and Brandon Tanev