Despite a number of Covid-related postponements and delays caused by the run-of-the-mill, everyday blizzard in Texas, there are still a ton of NHL games on the radar this week and weekend that will be of interest to Seattle Kraken fans.
Most notably are the outdoor games.
That’s right, the NHL is moving outdoors. It’s just for the weekend but Saturday and Sunday are highlighted by two games played on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Word is that those shores are of the majestic variety.
For this week, we’ll take a look at those games as well as others you might want to keep an eye on.
Vegas Golden Knights versus Colorado Avalanche
When: Saturday, 12 P.M., NBC
Not only is this a matchup of two of the top teams in the Honda West Division, but it’s the Bridgestone NHL Outdoors at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort game. Not a shabby locale to watch some hockey. You’ll have to watch on television since no fans will be allowed on site.
The game should be just as majestic as the vantage point. Vegas leads the West with a 10-2-1 record in which they’ve fattened up on some of the division’s lesser teams. This will be a big test. Saturday’s game will be the third straight the two clubs have played this week, after splitting the first two.
Both earlier games were fun to watch, competitive hockey games played by two teams loaded with speed and talent. What’s not to love?
Players to watch
Nathan MacKinnon continues to lead the Avalanche in scoring although he’s only potted three goals. The Nova Scotia product has turned into a playmaker at the start of the season with 12 assists in as many games played. Somehow, MacKinnon doesn’t get as much national publicity as Connor McDavid, but he’s in the same class and is always must-watch hockey. Colorado is blessed with a dynamic defense highlighted by Cale Makar who has 12 points this year. But he’s been injured and hasn’t played since February 2nd which has allowed rookie Bowen Byram more playing time. The former Vancouver Giant has high expectations on him and so far, looks the part.
Vegas is just as deep as the Avalanche and led by Mark Stone. He’s a fun player to watch but keep eyes on him no matter where the play is. As proficient a scorer as Stone is, he plays in all zones and starts transitions with puck thievery on the regular. Local fans will recognize defenseman Shea Theodore who is a former captain of the Seattle Thunderbirds. Theodore is off to a good start despite some nagging injuries and appears ready to take the next step into the elite level for defensemen in the NHL.
The Seattle Kraken watchlist
Vegas is exempt from the Kraken Expansion List, so you’ll just be watching them for pure entertainment purposes. Colorado, on the other hand, has a lot of depth that will play to the Kraken’s advantage. Watch guys like defenseman Devon Toews who is a solid two-way blueliner. Also, watch do-it-all forward Joonas Donskoi. The former Shark plays all over the ice and can defend while chipping in offensively, as he has done with 10 points in the first 13 games this season.
Philadelphia Flyers versus Boston Bruins
When: Sunday, 12 P.M. Pacific, NBC
Another great matchup, this time between two of the top teams in the MassMutual East Division. This game is officially the Honda Outdoors Sunday. Luckily for the NHL, the game will be played in the same rink at Tahoe as the Saturday game. That will make set-up easy.
The two teams started Wednesday separated by just four points – Boston is in first – with the Flyers holding one game in hand. Boston is one of the stingiest defensive teams in the NHL by allowing just over two goals per game. Philadelphia combats that with depth up front and defensemen who can move the puck.
That makes for a fun hockey game that will have an impact on the divisional race.
Players to watch
Boston is led by its top line that includes Brad Marchand – who, if you weren’t aware is from Nova Scotia – David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron. The trio is one of the top lines in the NHL and the engine of the Bruins offensive attack. Will the crisp, cool air coming off the lake make Marchand more pest-like? We can only hope.
Marchand and Bergeron are leading the Bruins in scoring but Pastrnak is on the come up after missing games early.
The Flyers still have grizzled veteran Claude Giroux leading the way but are getting a resurgent start from James van Riemsdyk, who is leading them in scoring. He’s doing that by sporting a career-high shooting percentage. Can he keep that up? Tune in and see. Former Everett Silvertips goalie Carter Hart should be front and center at Tahoe which will delight Puget Sound hockey fans.
The Seattle Kraken watchlist
Boston has some interesting options for the Kraken, starting with forward Nick Ritchie, who is off to a hot start that should excite Seattle fans. The Kraken may have a tough decision on which Flyer they will select as their depth will force Philadelphia to lose a good player. Van Riemsdyk is one of those guys and his start is encouraging. Also on that watchlist is defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere who started the season on the injured list but is back in the lineup now.
Other notable NHL games on the radar
Edmonton Oilers versus Calgary Flames: Friday, February 19th 6 P.M. and Saturday, February 20th, 7 P.M. Nothing like a home-and-home two-game set of the Battle of Alberta. It’s just the second time this season but you can bet the heat will dial back up with two games in two nights.