Morning Skate: Capitals, PNW Native Oshie, and Fast Starts


Minnesota Wild v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 13: Marcus Johansson #90 of the Seattle Kraken warms up before the game against the Minnesota Wild on November 13, 2021 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Getty Images

The challenges are getting tougher. Perhaps it’s the challenge of seizing a win that defines greater value for the Seattle Kraken, challenged tonight by the Washington Capitals at 6pm from Climate Pledge Arena (5:30pm Coors Light Pregame Show/Kraken Audio Network).

Their challenge will be as stiff, if not stiffer, than Colorado. While the Kraken, who took the day off Saturday, faced the reigning President’s Trophy winner on Friday that has elite level firepower and showed their teeth in a 7-3 final, they were still recovering from a slow start in the standings.

The Capitals, this time, have similar firepower, starting with superstar and future Hall-of-Famer Alex Ovechkin, tied for second in the league goal scoring race (14) and with 29 points in 18 games. But the Caps have been humming consistently, at 11-2-5 with 27 points, one back of first place Carolina (who visits Seattle on Wednesday). Their goal differential checks in at a whopping +23, one goal behind Carolina and another first place team in the Atlantic Division, the Florida Panthers.

The need for a quality first period start is paramount: the Kraken have three of their four wins when leading after one period (versus 0-9 when they trail). Washington is 7-1-1 with a first intermission lead.

More below from this morning with TV color analyst J.T. Brown, while esteemed Capitals radio play-by-play voice John Walton checks in from the east coast, calling this games this season from the road on a remote basis.

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:

-Dave Hakstol said Philipp Grubauer will start in net, and Grubauer gets a shot at his former team where he served as a backup to Braden Holtby during their 2017-18 Stanley Cup title run. It’ll be his fourth career game against the Capitals (1-1-1 record).

-No other changes to note for substitutions, though line combos will likely look substantially different, if morning skate is an indication.

-Of note: former Capital Marcus Johansson gets a turn as the left winger for Alex Wennberg and Jordan Eberle, while Jaden Schwartz, Yanni Gourde, and Calle Jarnkrok will line up after roles on three different lines Friday night. We’ll see also what near-point-per-game-guy Jared McCann can do with the always abrasive and hyper-mode Brandon Tanev on the left wing (who broke an eight-game goal scoring drought on Friday), and Joonas Donskoi, still searching for his first goal of the season.

-Johansson, who said “it’s always special” to face the Capitals, where he spent seven seasons before leaving in a trade to New Jersey during the 2017 off-season to clear cap space, has six points in seven games against his former team.

-It’s impossible to talk about the Capitals without mentioning Alex Ovechkin. “The Great 8” scored two more goals last night in a 4-0 win at San Jose.There is now legitimate talk that Ovechkin can do something a few years ago, many thought for any hockey player was impossible: break Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal scoring record. He’s now fourth all-time, passing Brett Hull.

-T.J. Oshie (7 points, 8 games) has a homecoming in store: the native of Everett, Washington will play his first NHL game in the state tonight, joking earlier this yearabout the amount of money it’s going to cost him to get every member of his familyinto the building. He returned last night after an injury that sidelined him from taking a shot off his skate in late October.

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

Giordano-Oleksiak
Lauzon-Larsson
Soucy-Dunn

Grubauer
Driedger


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