Morning Skate: Driedger Starts, Donskoi vs. the Avalanche


Chicago Blackhawks v Seattle Kraken

Photo: Getty Images

The fourth game of a six-game homestand brings in one of the rising NHL powers that the Seattle Kraken will try to pass as far as a test: the Colorado Avalanche, in the first ever meeting at 7:00pm (6:30 Coors Light Pregame Show, Kraken Audio Network).

Two nights ago, the Kraken had to wait until the latter half of the third period to get their offensive engine officially revved up to the point of scoring a goal, and threw in a valuable extra attacker marker to ultimately fall, 4-2 to Chicago. The importance of scoring the first goal is a pretty high priority: the Kraken have lost all eight times when trailing after 20 minutes, while Colorado is 6-0 when leading after the first period.

More below on our morning skate podcast with two radio play-by-play voices, Everett Fitzhugh on the Kraken side and Conor McGahey on the Avalanche side.

Don’t forget: after each home game, the Coors Light Text Line for post-game coverage (text us your questions and Kraken comments to 49451) …. as well for your tweets on @KrakenAudioNet or @Benton_Mike.

Notes:

-Big night for Joonas Donskoi, who said "he's motivated for sure" to face his former Colorado Avalanche teammates for the first time. Donskoi said after morning skate he’s texted Mikko Rantanen leading up to tonight, while Avalanche forward Logan O'Connor said other former Avalanche teammates went to dinner last night with Grubauer in Seattle.

-Speaking of goaltending: head coach Dave Hakstol confirmed Chris Driedger will start, his second time to open up a game between the pipes since recovering from injury. His last time out: 13 days ago, when the Kraken had a 2-1 lead in Vegas, but three goals overlapping the end of the second and start of the third periods were their undoing in a 4-2 defeat.

-Yanni Gourde was not on ice for morning skate, initially drawing questions of his availability. Those were put to rest by Hakstol, who said it was a “maintenance day” for Gourde, leading up to tonight. Mason Appleton, yet to be cleared from injured reserve, took turns in line rushes with Gourde off the ice.

-Hakstol’s only lineup change to note: Carson Soucy back in, replacing Haydn Fleury.

-Could the power play be on the turn? They have now scored three in the previous four games.

-The Avalanche: second round of the playoffs last year, President’s Trophy winner (top regular season record in the league) under head coach Jared Bednar. Their superstar Nathan MacKinnon, sidelined since early November with a lower body ailment, hasn’t slowed them down: they’re 3-0 in his absence, recently beating the Canucks 4-2, two nights ago.

PROJECTED LINEUP VS. COLORADO
Schwartz-Wennberg-Eberle
Johansson-McCann-Jarnkrok
Donato-Geekie-Donskoi
Tanev-Gourde-Blackwell

Giordano-Soucy
Lauzon-Oleksiak
Dunn-Larsson


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