The moment hockey fans in the Pacific Northwest got out of bed and likely checked Twitter for the first time, their timelines probably erupted with the one name that’s consumed NHL trade talk:
The Kraken will bring in a 3-6-1 record with visions of bouncing back from two straight losses, a close shave against the New York Rangers on Sunday that was felled by an Adam Fox go-ahead goal in the third period, plus empty netter, and a loss at Edmonton the next night where the Kraken hung around for 40 minutes, trailing by a goal, but were felled from a four-point night from 2020 Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl.
They’ll face a Buffalo Sabres that came in this season with a bar so low, you’d may have to dig it out of the ground – but winning takes care of a lot. They’re 5-2-1 under head coach Don Granato, and rocked the hockey world this morning with a trade of their star forward, Eichel, to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for forward Alex Tuch, first round drafted prospect Peyton Krebs, two conditional picks and another conditional pick (which will include a first rounder to Buffalo, no matter what happens to Vegas this season).
We know the Kraken will not face a lineup with either Tuch (injured) or Krebs (immediately assigned to Rochester of the AHL). We do know they face a Sabres team that started out hot, lost Tuesday night at San Jose, and immediatelywere left gritting their teeth about their work ethic that night. Don’t think for a moment, this game will be easy.
The easy part is to understand how all moving parts across four lines and three defensive pairs (sans Jared McCann) will look to snap an 0-of-17 power play drought, and recapture the form that helped gather leads in their first three home games, and compete with a tie into the final period against a strengthened Rangers squad five nights ago.
-Riley Sheahan will face his former Sabres teammates for the first time since signing with the Kraken as a free agent in September. Though playing just one season (and, shortened by the pandemic) in Buffalo, the relationships are there – Sheahan shared he went to dinner with former teammates, Cody Eakin and Colin Miller, Wednesday night in Seattle.
-No McCann again tonight, still in COVID-19 protocol.
-Philipp Grubauer starts in net for the Kraken, and now with Chris Driedger at his side again. Grubauer has won his last four starts against the Sabres, with a .962 save percentage in that span.
-No changes up front from how practice looked on Thursday, with one slight change on the back end: Carson Soucy will sit, and Haydn Fleury – facing former Carolina teammate Jeff Skinner – will return to the defensive corps.
Tanev - Gourde - Jarnkrok
Donato - Geekie - Eberle
Schwartz - Wennberg - Donskoi
McCormick - Sheahan - Bastian
PRACTICE: DEFENSIVE PAIRS
·Happy tohave John Forslund join this morning for the quick preview of tonight. Listen here.
·1stintermission guest: Riley Sheahan, ex-Sabre forward, with Ian Furness
·Post-game:send your tweets, and hit up our text line with your thoughts (Coors Light text line): simply open your phone andtext your questions/thoughts to 49451.
·Coors Light pre-game: 6:30pm, Everett Fitzhugh and Dave Tomlinson’s call: 7pm on the Kraken Audio Network.