The Seattle Kraken do not have a true No. 1 line, with three high-scoring stars that can instill fear into an opponent.
So coach Dave Hakstol has tried to balance all four of his lines.
The move has worked, as the Kraken have tied a franchise record with eight straight wins and have a team-best 12-game point streak (10-0-2) heading into Saturday’s game at Columbus.
“It kind of messes with the other team a little bit,” Kraken forward Jared McCann said. “I feel like they’re going, ‘OK, now we’ve got four second lines we’ve got to deal with.’ So, it adds a level of depth to our team, which is great.”
McCann, a left winger who scored a career-high 40 goals in 2022-23 and has a team-leading 14 this season, embodies Hakstol’s approach. For the past two games, McCann has played on Seattle’s fourth line, moving to center Thursday in a 4-1 victory at Washington in the opener of a six-game trip.
McCann assisted on the game’s opening goal against the Capitals while playing on a line with Tye Kartye and Andre Burakovsky. It was McCann’s third assist in the past eight games, during which he’s scoreless. One of the team’s normal penalty killers, Hakstol has been making use of McCann’s defensive prowess while he’s having trouble finding the net.
“Obviously, we’re asking different guys to play in different spots,” Hakstol said. “And that creates different rules for them. But ultimately, we’re working to build four lines. Our minutes have been really balanced.
“We’re in the middle of a long road trip here, so we’re not controlling the matchups. Guys have got to be ready to go out and play both sides of the puck against whoever the other team decides to match up against us.”
Joey Daccord continued his strong play in net against the Capitals, making 25 saves. That included a no-look “scorpion” save in the first period with the game still scoreless.
Daccord, in a prone position, kicked up his back leg like a scorpion flicking its tail to rob Connor McMichael of a goal.
“It’s kind of tough when you’re laying facedown like that to see what’s going on,” Daccord said. “I assumed he had the rebound. I could just kind of see his body, but I couldn’t see the puck. So, I just stuck my leg up and hoped it hit my pad. And then I was like, ‘That was probably pretty cool.'”
Daccord’s save came after a turnover by defenseman Justin Schultz, who later scored against his former team.
“It erases a mistake, it erases a great opportunity,” Hakstol said of the save. “And again, it’s about the timing of a save. And the timing was about as good as it gets and allowed us to get that period going and have a successful period and come out feeling good.”
The Blue Jackets have lost seven of their past nine games (2-3-4) and haven’t won in regulation since Dec. 19 at Buffalo. They lost 5-0 Tuesday at league-leading Winnipeg, the third time this season they’ve been blanked.
“That’s a team that’s going for the (Stanley Cup), and that’s a team that we’re striving to be like,” Blue Jackets forward Justin Danforth said.
It was a rude return to Manitoba for Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent, who spent a decade in the Jets’ organization.
“They’re No. 1 in the league, and there’s a reason for it,” Vincent said. “They don’t give anything. They can play any style. Let’s put it this way: It was a little too rich for us.”
–Field Level Media
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