It looks like Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer is healthy once again after a couple of missed games. The club sent call-up Chris Driedger back down to the AHL.
Meanwhile … what the heck?! Have you seen New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba’s slash to the head of Trent Frederic of the Boston Bruins on Saturday?? Was everyone fooled that he didn’t mean to do it or it was somewhat restrained? We start there …
1) Referee Francis Charron is staring directly at the play six feet away, or less, and doesn’t hand out a minor penalty! Whether he’s off-balance or not, Trouba is responsible for his stick. Watch closely enough and you’ll see it was ‘accidentally on purpose’.
The NHL only gave Trouba a $5,000 fine. Part of the reasoning would be that Frederic was not injured on the play.
OK, so go ahead and hit your opponent in the head with your stick. If he’s not hurt … all good. Why not roll the dice and send a message.
What’s also weird but completely separate; neither the Rangers or Bruins TV guys mentioned the stick to the head while evaluating the replay.
2) For all the well deserved hand wringing, the Seattle Kraken are presently in the second wild card spot for the playoffs in the Western Conference. Of course all of the teams giving chase and/or close behind have anywhere between one to three games in hand.
Guest columnist Glenn Dreyfuss summed up Seattle’s first quarter yesterday with an epic breakdown of the Kraken’s woes and whys.
3) Last season the inaugural Coachella Valley Firebirds of the American Hockey League came within a Game-7 overtime goal of winning the Calder Cup championship.
This season they’re in 7th place in the AHL Pacific Division with a record of 9-and-6. Keep in mind they have games in hand on everyone above them and if they win twice they’ll suddenly be in third place.
In other words, it’s early.
Here’s Shane Wright scoring the game winner on Saturday against the Bakersfield Condors, his seventh goal in 12 games. The Kraken picked Wright 4th-overall at the 2022 NHL Draft.
4) How is “generational” player Connor Bedard doing with the Chicago Blackhawks? The Kraken will see the highly touted 1st-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft first hand at the United Center on Tuesday night.
Among rookies Bedard ranks number-one in points with 17 and goals with 10. He’s four points ahead of fellow center Logan Cooley of the Arizona Coyotes. If Bedard starts to run away from the other forwards in the group statistically, it doesn’t mean the race for the Calder Trophy will be over. Lurking around are two high scoring defensemen, Luke Hughes of the New Jersey Devils with 12 points and Pavel Mintyukov of the Anaheim Ducks with 11.
5) Yes the Canucks have been impressive this early season, but how about those LA Kings?! The kids from La La Land hopped past the Vancouverites earlier in the week and have won five games in a row.
Let’s go with strength up the middle as one of the big reasons. Never a bad thing, and adding center Pierre-Luc Dubois in the off-season was a huge get, a perfect compliment to the 36-year-old Slovenian super-man Anze Kopitar.
(One of the topics of discussion in the Bruce Boudreau podcast below)
The Kings are a perfect 9-and-0 on the road this season and with games in hand have a better winning percentage than the first place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division. The VGK have 30 points through 21 games while the Kings have 29 points through 19.
LA plays the Kraken twice in five days in mid-December starting with a game at Climate Pledge Arena on the 16th.
6) Trivia Slot: Simple; which Kraken defenseman served a three-game NHL suspension last season for a hit to the head? (Answer at the bottom of the page above the podcasts)
7) The Toronto Maple Leafs have been making news with their struggles and their trade rumors. Current general manager Brad Treliving took over this season after running the Calgary Flames for the past nine seasons.
The big talk involves current Flames D-men Nikita Zadorov, who earlier this season asked out of Calgary, and Chris Tanev.
“Tree” wouldn’t mind having either of them if he could figure out a deal to work with his very tight salary cap. He’s remains close to the man who took over for him out west, Calgary GM Craig Conroy.
In 5th place in the Atlantic Division, the Maple Leafs have a goal differential of just plus-one, despite a potent scoring attack led by “the big 4” of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares.
The blueline corps continues to be a sore spot, a pain that seems to have lasted for a decade or more. Thus Toronto’s apparent interest in a defensive upgrade.
8) In case you missed it, check out this filthy play by Winnipeg Jets winger Nik Ehlers. The 27-year-old Dane works the ultimate dangle and cashes in. Remarkable slight of hand on that second move, apparently behind Panthers D-man Uvis Balinskis, a 27-year-old Latvian playing in just his 15th NHL game.
9) J.T. Miller of the Canucks is the leading scorer among current number-9’s in the NHL. He has 33 points, tied with his teammate Quinn Hughes and good for 2nd most in the league behind Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning.
I count eleven number-9’s in the NHL at the moment.
Filip Forsberg would be the next most prolific with 24 points for the Nashville Predators while Adrian Kempe of the LA Kings and Jack Eichel of the Vegas Golden Knights both have 20.
— Trivia Answer: Jamie Oleksiak served a three-game suspension for his hit to the head of Capitals defenseman Alex Alexeyev last December 9th.
— Chance For Kraken’s Daccord To Grab The Reins In Goal
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