Seattle Kraken, Kailer Yamamoto

Kraken Morning After; Blackhawks Crushed, Big Challenge Awaits

It’ll be a whole different animal facing the Kraken on Saturday night at Climate Pledge Arena, but who knows, with the improved confidence and the loosening of the sticks, Seattle could be in fine shape against the very strong Los Angeles Kings.

One guarantee; LA will look nothing like the Chicago Blackhawks team that skated into Climate Pledge Arena on Thursday night and lost to the Kraken 7-1.

No reason to pile on here, they’re just not very good and not very disciplined in a few areas, all while suffering through a half-dozen injuries to key guys.

Their hefty shift lengths bordered on the bizarre. It felt like the 1970’s. I understand giving your rookie star Connor Bedard some rope, but it felt like a beer league approach to line changes.

Seattle took advantage as they should. As every NHL coach has said at one point or another: when you’re struggling, no other team is gonna feel sorry for you.

Kraken Day Off

Seattle took the day off on Friday. No practice. The team feels prepared to play the Kings on Saturday before departing on a roadie that’ll take them to Dallas, LA and Anaheim before Christmas.

Hey, there’s two days off between the Kings and Ducks games. Great chance for a holiday visit to Disneyland if they plan ahead.

Neither match against Los Angeles will be a trip to fantasy land, it’ll be a potential reality check. A surprise for some NHL pundits, but not so much for others, the Kings have 36 points in the standings, tied for the 7th most in the league.

They presently have a pretty firm grip on 3rd place in the Pacific Division with a nine point cushion on the 4th place Edmonton Oilers. They’ve been getting better than expected goaltending from Cam Talbot and Pheonix Copley and have strength up the middle with centers Anze Kopitar, Phillip Danault, and Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Venerable D-man Drew Doughty heads up a bit of a ‘no-name’ blueline corps, although part of that might have to do with ‘east coast bias’. The team is overlooked a bit. Excellent defenseman Vladi Gavrikov suffered a lower body injury over the weekend and is considered week-to-week.

4th Line Flurry

One of the things the Kraken enjoyed last season that helped keep opponents off balance defensively was heavy production from the bottom six, namely 4th-liners like Ryan Donato, Morgan Geekie and Daniel Sprong.

Those three combined for 44 goals last season.

Scoring from deeper in the Seattle line-up this season had dried up until three nights ago. That’s when both Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Kailer Yamamoto tallied a goal and an assist against the Florida Panthers. Bellemare played less than nine minutes.

Thursday night the two popped up on the scoresheet again against the Blackhawks. Yamamoto with two goals, Bellemare with one. Third liner Eeli Tolvanen also scored a goal in back-to-back games.

“I think it gives guys energy up top (top lines),” Yamamoto said postgame Thursday. “We’re not scoring every game, so to be able to contribute, I really think helps our team out.

The key comes down to whether or not the Kraken can count on consistency from the group. Hopefully for them a surge of confidence can go a long way.

Kraken Flipside:

— Kraken With A Powerful Lack Of Confidence

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.