Game 46 preview: Ottawa Senators @ Washington Capitals

Karlsson says: "NO!". No means no Ovi. - Phillip MacCallum

Erik Karlsson will play his first game in ten weeks tonight against the Washington Capitals. The game starts at 7:00 p.m.

He is back. The greatest player hockey player ever for the Ottawa Senators will return tonight. Erik Karlsson returns to a team that needs two points in its final three games to clinch a playoff spot. If the Senators can win all three games before a shootout, they will guarantee themselves at least the sixth seed and a matchup with tonight's opponents, the Washington Capitals. The Senators still have an outside chance at fifth place.

Karlsson's addition will be the only change to the lineup. He will be replacing Patrick Wiercioch, the fifth leading scorer on the team. Here are the lines and pairings from Sylvain St-Laurent.

Conacher - Turris - Michalek
Condra - Zibanejad - Silfverberg
Greening - Smith - Alfredsson
Latendresse - Pageau - Neil

Méthot - Världens bästa Karlsson (!!!)
Cowen - Gonchar
Phillips - Gryba

Anderson (starter)
Lehner

And per the Washington Post, this is how the Capitals will line up.

Johansson - Backstrom - Ovechkin
Erat - Ribeiro - Brouwer
Chimera - Perrault - Fehr
Volpatti - Hendricks - Beagle

Alzner - Green
Erskine - Carlson
Hillen - Oleksy

Neuvirth (starter)
Holtby

Here are some notes for tonight:

  • #lalala
  • Marc Méthot must be happy. His Corsi-For % with Karlsson was 60.0% and with Eric Gryba it was 47%.
  • Karlsson is four goals behind Kyle Turris and Daniel Alfredsson for the team lead in goals. Can he catch up? He still leads all Senators defencemen in goals.
  • In all seriousness, Karlsson last played game 71 days ago. He is returning tonight on the road against the hottest team in the league featuring a guy that has 21 goals in 19 games. I am as excited (or more) like everyone else, but let's just be happy to see him playing.
  • Shockingly lost in all this is the fact that Ottawa can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a Winnipeg loss in regulation to Montréal.
  • Craig Anderson will make his sixth consecutive start. He hasn't been very good in the last two games and playing against the Capitals should provide a good challenge.
  • Is Paul MacLean panicking a little bit with such drastic changes of the lines? He doesn't seem like the panicking type, so I will vote no.
  • This will be the first ever game in which Karlsson and Gryba both play.
  • Will Karlsson's return immediately help the power play? The Capitals don't have a very good penalty kill and they are playing their backup goaltender tonight.
And some #fancystats follow below.

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Relative Off Zone Start %
Turris 14.85 0.475 -3.8 52.8
Alfredsson 14.12 0.035 3.8 54.5
Michalek 14.1 -0.262 4.2 60.7
Smith 13.65 0.66 -3.3 49.9
Silfverberg 12.95 0.526 0.5 61.3
Latendresse 12.84 0.513 -2.2 56.2
Greening 12.68 0.441 0.5 54.4
Neil 12.37 0.593 1 50.6
Conacher 11.85 0.285 0.7 57.4
Zibanejad 11.16 0.047 5.3 65.5
Condra 10.77 -0.169 7.3 52.5
Pageau 10.29 1.776 11.5 47.1

Kyle Turris should also be a big beneficiary of Karlsson's return. Last season, the two defencemen Turris was most commonly on the ice with was Karlsson and Gonchar. This season it is Phillips and Methot. Big drop in offensive situations isn't it?

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Relative Off Zone Start %
Karlsson 19.72 0.467 20.2 59
Methot 18.16 0.895 -5.9 51.2
Gryba 17.59 1.114 -17.3 50.3
Gonchar 17.06 0.25 -0.6 55.3
Phillips 16.12 0.237 -6.7 52.3

Cowen

15.35 -0.561 1 67.5

Looking at Jared Cowen's offensive zone starts, he is certainly being eased into the lineup isn't he? Although, Ottawa has dominated the play in recent games, so they might have simply had a lot of offensive zone face-offs. It is incredible how much better Karlsson is than the rest isn't it?
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