Kraken Bounce Back
The Seattle Kraken will host a Montreal Canadiens team that’s playing its fourth game in six nights, its third game in four nights, and coming off a 7-6 overtime loss in Vancouver Monday night. In that game they blew a 4-0 first period lead and a 6-5 lead they held with three minutes remaining in the third period.
That’s tough stuff, especially when you throw in the travel involved with zipping around the province of Alberta and the region of Cascadia between games.
“This one’s about us,” Kraken Head Coach Dave Hakstol stated Tuesday morning, “getting back at it, not real happy with our performance coming out of the other night, very winnable game. We came up short in some of the detail and gritty areas of the hockey game, so it has nothing to do with the situation of our opponents. This is about us needing to come out and get back to what we do and do it well.”
The Kraken lost to the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Saturday night.
Kraken 30-year-old center Yanni Gourde always has extra motivation playing against the only NHL team from his native province of Quebec, the club he grew up watching and worshipping. He also always seems to do well against the Habs. He scored in both of the Seattle games against Montreal last season, both Kraken victories, and has four points over his last three games against them, dating back to his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get in on the back-to-back, but we know they have a good team,” Gourde said of the Canadiens. “Very good team, very talented, young team. And we know they’re gonna be ready, that’s a tough loss last night for them. So we know we’re gonna get their best effort tonight, and we just gotta be ready for it and and have a great start and just go from there.”
Relentless would be a great way to approach it. If focused and sustained, the Habs should wear down. Oh, and disciplined wouldn’t hurt, as the Kraken penalty kill hasn’t exactly been cranking this season. It’s 30th in the NHL at 66.7%.
“We definitely have a lot of room for improvement there,” Gourde said. “I think we’ve been a little bit, I don’t know, like out of structure a little bit. So, get back to do what really works and get back to normal structure. Don’t go too fast, something less is more. Sometimes, just being in the right spot instead of chasing too hard. Definitely a key and yeah, I think it starts with down-the-ice pressure. Eventually we’re gonna have to have to (be) better, like prevent them from an easy O-zone entry and I think it starts there.”
His coach would agree with that, and both would also suggest the best penalty kill is staying out of the box in the first place.
The Habs have the 12th best kill in the NHL at 79.1%.
The Kraken’s power play has been much better than the Habs this season; 26% compared to Montreal’s 17.1.
Jake Allen starts in net for the Canadiens, Martin Jones for the Kraken.
— Gourde said his favorite Montreal player growing up was actually a Russian, Alexei Kovalev.