Seattle Kraken, Coachella Valley Firebirds, Hershey Bears

Kraken Daily: Affiliate Must-Win, Devil Is In The Details

Time for the Seattle Kraken’s American Hockey League farm team to go back to the future. The Coachella Valley Firebirds need to repeat what they did in Games 1 and 2 of the Calder Cup Final when they return home for Monday’s Game-6, trailing 3-games-to-2 to the Hershey Bears.

It wasn’t easy, but the eastern conference champion Bears manage to win all three games at home, all by one goal, two of them in overtime.

It would be unfair to suggest that Hershey goalie Hunter Shepard has been better than Firebirds and part-time Kraken goalie Joey Daccord, because he hasn’t been. They’ve both been very solid and at times spectacular, particularly Daccord.

Special teams on the other hand, not so good. The Firebirds power play efficiency on the road went downhill, with the efforts in the 1-0 overtime loss in Game-5 downright dismal.

Over three games in Hershey, Coachella Vallery went 2-for-10 on the power play, with both goals coming in Game-3. Twenty-percent isn’t awful, but the man advantage failed to click in the clutch. Hershey’s wasn’t any better, 3-for-15, also twenty-percent, but note the number of opportunities for the home team.

The Firebirds can only hope for similar home cooking at the Acrisure Arena.

Obviously it’s a must win for the Kraken affiliate. The building has been sold out for three days. The crowd will be amped. The Firebirds outscored the Bears 9-0 during the first two games in the Valley and will plan for a similar performance. A key was the success of their tenacious Kraken-style forecheck.

Win, Game-7 comes Wednesday. Lose, the Bears add a 12th Calder Cup to their all-time AHL record.

The Devil Is In The Details

New Jersey Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald has been and will continue to be one of the busier NHL executives this summer. 24-year-old Swedish winger Jesper Bratt signed an eight-year $63-million deal four days ago. He’s coming off a 32-goal, 73-point season while entering his prime.

“Fitzy” is also working on signing recently acquired forward Timo Meier to what will likely be a similar deal. Yes, in case you didn’t notice, the career San Jose Shark was moved February 26th ahead of the NHL trade deadline in a deal that involved nine players and four draft picks.

It was a rare NHL trade in its enormity. The former Pacific Division stalwart is looking to make a name for himself in the Atlantic. writer Mike Morreale reminds us that the Devils have six other players beside Meier who will also be Restricted Free Agents (RFA) on July 1st. including talented 3rd-liner Yegor Sharangovich.

The Devils finished with the highest point total in their history last season, 112, got bounced by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2nd-round, and are looking to build off that momentum. It was a tough loss, but considering the goalie nightmare the season before — they used seven different masked men — it was definitely a step in the right direction.

Falling Leafs?

Some refer to it as the “center of the hockey universe”. If you’ve ever been in a scrum or seen the daily media coverage in Toronto of the Maple Leafs, you’d understand why.

New general manager Brad Treliving has some big decisions to make. First of all, is he keeping head coach Sheldon Keefe, who’s had very limited success in the postseason, and is he keeping all of the “Big-4” forwards. Considering captain John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner all have no-move clauses in their contracts and they’d have to agree to waive them, that leaves us William Nylander with his modified-no-move-clause, who makes four to five million per season less than the other guys.

There’s definite talk that the chemistry needs to change and the team needs to get tougher. in Toronto serves up two offerings: Luke Fox hits on the Keefe sitchy while Justin Bourne talks about the trade possibilities.

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Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.