COLUMBUS — Entering Saturday’s game, the Kraken had the most effective offensive line in the entire NHL.
It wasn’t the top line, fueled by Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz and Jared McCann; it was led by the Kraken’s top goal-scorer, Brandon Tanev.
Tanev, skating to the left of Morgan Geekie and Ryan Donato, scored on the power play and an empty net in Nashville to become the first Kraken player to reach two goals.
Geekie and Donato scored in the first Kraken game in Vegas on Tuesday. As the Kraken has continued to generate offense, that line has been one of the driving forces.
That may not be what was expected around the league, and perhaps even internally. So far it’s worked, right when the Kraken has needed it to.
“I think I can still take a step in the right direction,” Geekie said. “I think our line is doing pretty well; we have good chemistry, but I think there’s still some more steps for me personally. I think there’s another level I can get to.”
That would be good news for the Kraken, who made the surprising move to select him in the expansion draft. Kraken general manager Ron Francis knew the Hurricanes better than anyone, as their former GM, and took the young Geekie.
So far, that move has paid off.
In his first game as a member of the Kraken, Geekie scored the goal to tie the contest after trailing 3-0. He perhaps has caught some goalies off guard after just 41 games of NHL experience. At some point they’ll know he’s someone to watch out for.
“Anybody who was watching our practices and training camp sort of know how good he is and how good his shot is,” Kraken forward Joonas Donskoi said. “You saw in that game against Vegas; he can really shoot and score goals for us. … I think he’s gonna be a big winner for us this year.”
His linemate, Tanev, who scored again Saturday, isn’t going to be the Kraken’s leading scorer all season; that’s not what they brought him in to do. While Geekie projects to be one of the offensive keys for the franchise, it’s the other things from the forward known as Turbo that helps the Kraken succeed.
“To go with those two guys (Geekie and Donato), he adds that checking element,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “He has that element of speed and tenacity. He’s given that line some good minutes.”
Wennberg returns to Columbus
It feels like every Kraken road game is going to be some sort of a reunion, or revenge game, depending how you look at it.
Alexander Wennberg, who was one of the starters Saturday night, played in Columbus last season — four times! — after signing with the Florida Panthers. Saturday was different: It was his first time playing in front of his home crowd, actually full, since leaving the franchise he played for for six seasons.
“Obviously a bunch of new players (in Columbus),” he said. “Right now there’s new coaches coming in, which is awesome for (Brad Larsen), so I think a lot of new things. For me, obviously, I keep an eye on that I kind of will pay more attention to what’s ahead with my team and all that.”
- Vince Dunn was out on Saturday with an unnamed ailment. Haydn Fleury, who didn’t play in Nashville, slotted back into his slot.
- When Tanev scored Saturday, it was the first time the Kraken scored the first goal of the game. It trailed 3-0 in Vegas, and 1-0 in Nashville before finding the scoreboard.