As in, a brother who’s just one year older. These are definitely not last year’s Kraken and the same could be said for the reigning Pacific Division champion Calgary Flames. They’ve slipped.
We asked 14-year NHL goaltending veteran and 30-year NHL TV commentator, sometimes with Hockey Night in Canada, all the time with the Calgary Flames, Greg Millen, as to why?
As Millen points out, the Flames haven’t necessarily recovered from off-season changes that general manager Brad Treliving was forced to make. Two members of one of the NHL’s top lines moved on. Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau went to the Columbus Blue Jackets via free agency, followed by linemate Matthew Tkachuk in a trade to the Florida Panthers. Tkachuk made it clear he had no plans on re-signing in Calgary.
Treliving brought in forward Jonathan Huberdeau and D-man MacKenzie Weegar from the Panthers in the deal and added a Stanley Cup champion in Nazem Kadri via free agency. Millen explains why one of the forwards has worked out and the other hasn’t.
The Flames goaltending has been pretty good with Dan Vladar filling in admirably if and when original number-one Jacob Markstrom has struggled.
Vladar gets the start Friday night at Climate Pledge Arena with Martin Jones starting at the other end.
“Millsy” is definitely impressed with the Kraken, who will feature some line-up changes Friday.
“Hard working, fun team that loves to play hockey and they’ve been the surprise team in the league,” Millen said. “(GM) Ron Francis has done a great job.”
It’s the Kraken who sit atop the Pacific with 51 points with games in hand on the two closest pursuers, the Vegas Golden Knights and LA Kings.
((The Kings temporarily jumped ahead to 52 points with an earlier win Friday, 4-3 over the Panthers. With four games in hand the Kraken remain in first place based on winning percentage and can hop back in front with a win or OT/shoot-out loss against the Flames. The Vegas Golden Knights lost Friday 4-1 to the New York Rangers. Seattle will still have two games in hand on Vegas when the night is over.))