We heard it faintly in the Kraken crowd during the 3rd period on Monday night at Climate Pledge Arena.
“Joey, Joey, Joey,” a large group in the stands chanted. It picked up a little steam, reminiscent of the spring playoffs in Coachella Valley where Daccord became the “mayor” and earned the devotion of thousands of Firebirds fans.
The American Hockey League team and top affiliate of the Kraken fell one goal short of the Calder Cup championship, losing Game-7 of the final on home ice in overtime to the Hersey Bears on June 21st.
This week we might hear the chanting again.
With Philipp Grubauer day-to-day following a collision with Calgary Flames forward Martin Pospisil during the 1st period on Monday night, it’s a golden opportunity for Daccord. He was sound in the overtime loss to the Flames, taking over to start the 2nd period and narrowly missing out on a win in relief.
“I thought Joey’s performance yesterday was kind of indicative of his entire season performance,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said after practice Tuesday. “Really positive. He’s gained, garnered points in five of his seven starts, he’s hovering right around that .900 save percentage, he’s stopping most of the pucks that he’s supposed to stop if you look at the underlying numbers, which sometimes don’t tell the whole story. I think he’s a young goaltender who’s continuing to learn how to close out games.”
Chris Driedger was called up from Coachella Valley to serve as back-up this Wednesday night against the San Jose Sharks. He’s at risk to waivers on the way back down, but maybe this indicates the nature and potential longevity of the injury to Grubauer. The club wants a legitimate alternative on hand should Daccord falter.
The Kraken crease situation is not without recent precedent.
Last season it was Martin Jones stepping in and going on a successful run in net for the Kraken after “Grooby” went down with a groin injury on October 21st, 2022 in Colorado. Jones got on a roll that continued off and on for lengthy periods even after Grubauer returned from injury. “Jonesy” won six of the seven games on the Kraken’s record setting early-2023 road winning streak.
This time around “Grooby’s” prognosis is unknown, simply day-to-day at the moment. Either way, it’s Daccord’s chance to seize the crease like he did already this season with three straight starts in late October and three more earlier this month. He already has ten appearances to Grubauer’s 12.
“Any opportunity you get to play in the NHL is a great one,” Daccord told us Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that Grooby came out last night, but I was excited to get in and play and just go out and do my thing, and have fun. I just like to bring my personality into the game, leave it all out there, try my best and whatever happens is going to happen.”
Maybe it’s his superior puck handling and passing ability, but for whatever reason the Kraken seemed more confident this early season with Daccord between the posts. It resulted in the wins to which Hakstol alluded.
Getting on a roll would be timely, beginning with what should be considered a “must win” at home against the Sharks.
No pressure, no disrespect intended, but Wednesday night on home ice with a chance to finally get to modern NHL .500 on the season against a team with just three wins is not an opportunity the Kraken can let slip by.
A loss would be a major setback as the club looks to launch into the 2nd quarter of the season. It’s up to Daccord to prevent that from happening.
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