Seattle Kraken (6-8-4) vs. Vancouver Canucks (12-4-1)
When/where: Saturday, 7 p.m., Rogers Arena
TV: Hockey Night In Canada. Radio: Sportsnet 650
The buzz: Is this the year that the Salish Series finally kicks off? The Kraken were last year’s surprise playoff performers. But they’ve struggled to defend as well as they did last year and are off to a stumbling start. The Canucks, of course, are one of the stories of the season so far. There’s plenty on the line in terms of the Canucks further securing their playoff position — or giving life to the Kraken’s pursuit of such a spot.
The history: The Canucks helped open Climate Pledge Arena for the Kraken’s inaugural home-opener in 2021. In all, these two teams have faced each other eight times over the past two seasons: the Canucks have won six times.
The hope: Andrei Kuzmenko is set to return Saturday after missing Thursday’s game because of a puck he took to the chin on Wednesday. The Canucks would love to see him return and burst out of the gates; he only has three goals this season and hasn’t scored since Nov. 2 in San Jose. You would think he’s due.
The fear: The Canucks are struggling to score five-on-five; if their special teams start to run dry, it will be difficult to win even with the stellar efforts of goalie Thatcher Demko.
The top guns: As of Friday, J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes were still in a three-way tie for first in NHL scoring. Jaden Schwartz is off to a fine start for Seattle, with eight goals and seven assists through 18 games. Vince Dunn is off to a remarkable start with 16 points from the blue-line.
The wounded: Canucks: Andrei Kuzmenko (face, day-to-day), Pius Suter (undisclosed, day-to-day), Carson Soucy (leg, week-to-week) and Guillaume Brisebois (concussion, LTIR). Kraken: Andre Burakovsky (upper body, IR).
The quote: “They don’t get scored on because they’re never in their end.” — Sportsnet commentator Ray Ferraro on why the Quinn Hughes-Filip Hronek defence pairing has proven so dominant.
The prediction: The Canucks have played a lot of hockey lately — and so have the Kraken, who will be playing their fourth game in six nights on Saturday. When two tired teams meet, it’s smart to pick the home squad. Bet on the Canucks winning 4-2.
(FAN FORUM: Do you have a specific question for a player? Pass it along to @provincesports and we’ll get it in a future edition.)
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