Kraken play-by-play announcer John Forslund is legendary for many reasons. Seattle fans reveled in Forslund’s entertaining exclusive calls during the inaugural season, and certainly can’t wait to see and hear from future Hall of Famer and analyst JT Brown for the second season of Kraken.
But we don’t have to wait more than a few hours for Forslund’s entertaining game calls. He’s on the mic for two Game 6s in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs: Thursday, Toronto at Tampa Bay, 4:30 p.m. PT, TBS; and Friday, Florida in Washington, 4:30, TBS.
Forslund’s preparation for each game he calls is the stuff of legend among his peers and co-workers: he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. a flurry of tiny handwritten notes (to fit more) in a tall notebook and a spiral notebook, the latter with highlighted sections. Here are some of his notes for the Toronto-Tampa Bay matchup:
“There’s a team facing elimination for the first time in this series,” says Forslund, “and they’re the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, but Tampa Bay comes home to Game 6 with the pedigree of a record from 17-0 [in the last 17 postseason games] after a playoff loss. The Lightning will lean on that… and goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy has been in the net for all 17 wins.”
“This is a tough series to read when you look at the huge disparity in scores across all four games, it’s hard to get a read on who’s the better team.” Forslund’s notebook is full of points about the lowest-than-usual 5v5 game in the series to date, and the highest-than-normal number of 4v4 situations.
More from the notebook: Auston Matthews is playing big, scoring the game-winning goal in Game 5 while recording seven hits. Maple Leafs got production from William Nylander and John Tavares to complement “big shots” Matthews and playmaker Mitch Marner (2G, 5A in 5 games).
Matthews was named a finalist for the NHL’s Hart Trophy to designate the league’s most valuable player for the 2021-22 season. Edmonton superstar center Connor McDavid and New York Rangers goalie sensation Igor Shesterkin are the other two finalists. “Matthews has my vote,” Forslund said.
Forslund says former Kraken regulars defenseman-captain Mark Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell have contributed solidly to Toronto’s 3-2 series lead, bidding to win the Maple Leafs’ first playoff series since 2004.
“Colin Blackwell is centering Toronto’s fourth row and doing everything he’s been asked to do in a limited job. He played five minutes in Game 5, but he was impactful. He has one goal in the series and he’s doing all the little things. stuff we saw him do skating for the kraken.
“Giordano has delivered as advertised for the Maple Leafs. He is the best anchor for the 5-6 [third] pairing that Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe could want. He spent years playing in the top four minutes and is a really good teammate for defenseman Justin Holl, who has been good in the series, along with every defenseman in Toronto.
“Mark has done an excellent job of establishing that defensive group, and it’s being used in all situations, including the penalty and power play.”