Morning Skate: Dave Hakstol, Back in Philly

Seattle Kraken v Vegas Golden Knights

Photo: Getty Images

Here comes the home stretch.

The Seattle Kraken, into Wells Fargo Center tonight to take on the Philadelphia Flyers (their only visit of the season), are pretty close to “broken in” status, if not already.

They’ve navigated a Yanni Gourde return timeline – on the trip but not yet ready to play. They’ve navigated a frightening COVID-19 protocol situation, at one point leaving a handful of players unavailable and a historic opening night lineup in limbo just hours before puck drop in Las Vegas. They’re navigating five games (1-1-1 on the trip) in eight days, with zero practice days in the last week.

Ah, hockey season: like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.

All eyes on Dave Hakstol tonight. The Kraken bench boss returns to Philadelphia for the first time in a new head coach role since he departed the Flyers in 2018-19, ending nearly four seasons there which included two playoff appearances. A total of nine players from the Flyers remain from when he was head coach. The memories are fresh.

Hakstol who had “brief conversations” with familiar faces, had one amusing but pretty obvious observation for the game coming up:

“I don’t think either ways there was a whole lot of luck wished,” he said.

The hockey world is a small world, after all. But come puck drop, the other team is in your way.

Notes for tonight:

  • Vince Dunn remains out of the lineup, injury undisclosed, despite taking reps this morning at Wells Fargo Center with the Kraken icing a group that focused more on special teams drills than typical line rushes.
  • Alex Barré-Boulet, kept on the shelf for much of the third period against Columbus as he’s still relatively green with the Kraken system, will be out tonight. Kole Lind, former superstar forward of the Kelowna Rockets and last season getting his first crack at the NHL with seven games in Vancouver, will make his Kraken debut tonight.
  • Philipp Grubauer will start in net for the fourth consecutive game, his eighth career game coming up against the Flyers (2-4-0, one shutout).
  • The Flyers, who lost in their opener on Saturday against Vancouver, 5-4 in a shootout, will go with Everett Silvertips grad and CHL legend Carter Hart in net for his second game.
  • There might be no greater weight of success for the Flyers season (after missing the playoffs last year) on anyone’s shoulders than Hart. His third NHL campaign was his worst in save percentage (.877), goals-against-average (3.67), and in a deeper advanced metric, was last in the NHL for “goals saved above average” (telling you how many goals he prevented, factoring in save percentage and shots faced).He is 49-37-10 in 102 career games, and was an absurd 20-3-2 on home ice two years ago, tied with Jordan Binnington and Andre Vasilevsky for the NHL lead in home wins.

I’ll bring you in with coverage at 3:30pm today on the Kraken Audio Network, with Ian Furness (who after handling local TV coverage last night of the Seahawks and Steelers, needs a nap) handling play-by-play while Everett Fitzhugh continues to make progress out of COVID-19 protocol.

Programming notes:

  • Reminder: 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!
  • Intermission: more from our “Meet the Kraken” series … Ian Furness will sit down with Jared McCann, and I’ll have a great chat with Jamie Oleksiak with you. Extended interviews coming up soon on the podcast link above.

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