Kraken 3 Keys to Win in Their Home Opener With Canucks

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, will mark the first-ever home game in Seattle Kraken history. In one of the season’s most anticipated games, the Kraken (1-3-1) are set to face off against their Cascadia rivals, the Vancouver Canucks (2-2-1). If Seattle wants to send their fans home happy, here are three keys to victory they should follow.

1. Throw Quinn Hughes Off his Game

It is no secret that Quinn Hughes is the engine that drives the Canucks offense. He recently became the fastest active defenseman to 100 career points and is a threat every time he steps on the ice. If the Kraken can not find a way to maintain the former Calder nominee, it could cause massive issues throughout the game.

When Hughes missed the game against the Buffalo Sabres, the Canucks looked lost. They had their worst Corsi for percentage (CF%) of the season and only registered 13 scoring chances at five-on-five. The Kraken need to forecheck him hard, limit the amount of space he can move the puck in and throw a hit whenever possible. If they don’t, he could take over the game, and it could be a long night for the Kraken.

2. Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle Need to Get on the Board

One primary reason Seattle has managed only one win in their first five games is the play of Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle. The two have combined for three points in five games, with neither registering a goal yet. They are the top two in terms of ice time amongst forwards yet are having problems generating offense. Luckily, some of the depth players like Brandon Tanev have stepped up, but the Kraken will need their two star wingers to do something versus Vancouver to snag a W.

Jaden Schwartz, Seattle Kraken
Jaden Schwartz, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Removing time on the power play, the two have combined for 13 shots on goal and seven high danger chances. In comparison, Vancouver’s top player Elias Pettersson has 10 shots on goal with six high danger scoring chances by himself. These two were brought in to spark the team offensively but have yet to show much while at even strength.

Dave Hakstol, Seattle Kraken
Dave Hakstol, head coach of the Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

One thing to watch for in the game is if Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol splits up his top line to try and get them going. During practice on Friday, Eberle was moved to the second line with Alex Wennberg while Schwartz stayed on the top line with Yanni Gourde. The coach needs to find a way to get these players going versus Vancouver, and splitting them up may be exactly what is needed.

Related: Projecting the Seattle Kraken Opening Night Defensive Pairs

3. Offense From the Defense

Seattle needs to find a way to get their defensemen more involved in the offense. The Kraken has one goal and four assists from blueliners at even strength through their first five games. This includes captain Mark Giordano, who, despite playing over 83 minutes this season at even strength, has yet to get on the scoreboard.

There has been one defenseman who has stepped up offensively this season, and that is Carson Soucy. He currently leads all Kraken players with ten even-strength shots and has the highest individual expected goals by a defenseman in four games played. It’s nice to get some production from a team’s bottom pair, but successful teams can generate at least scoring chances from all three pairings. If Seattle wants to impress in their home debut and beat Vancouver, they need to find a way to generate more offense from the rest of their blueline.

Feed Off the Crowd

The most significant advantage the Kraken has coming into this game is the crowd. They will be loud as the Seattle faithful get to see their team for the first time at Climate Pledge Arena. If their goaltending can be solid and get offense from their top players and defenseman, fans will have a good chance of witnessing the first-ever home victory in Kraken history.

Projected Line Combinations, Defence Pairings & Starting Goaltenders

Seattle Kraken

Jaden Schwartz – Yanni Gourde – Calle Järnkrok
Jared McCann – Alex Wennberg – Jordan Eberle
Joonas Donskoi – Morgan Geekie – Brandon Tanev
Nathan Bastian – Riley Sheahan – Mason Appleton

Mark Giordano – Jamie Oleksiak
Jérémy Lauzon – Adam Larsson
Carson Soucy – Vince Dunn

Philipp Grubauer: 2-0-1 versus the Canucks with a 3.15 GAA and a .898% SV%

Vancouver Canucks

J.T. Miller – Elias Pettersson – Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat – Conor Garland
Nils Höglander – Jason Dickinson – Matthew Highmore
Justin Dowling – Juho Lammikko – Vasily Podkolzin

Quinn Hughes – Tucker Poolman
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Tyler Myers
Jack Rathbone – Kyle Burroughs

Thatcher Demko: First career regular-season game versus the Kraken

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