After another fruitless game, Erik Karlsson has gone consecutive games without a point and does not have a point in five of his last games. It has seen him drop to just an 84-points pace for the season and has Evgeny Kuznetsov just two points behind him for the Eastern Conference scoring lead.
The Senators on the other hand have gone 6-2-1 in the last nine games and closed the gap to the Pittsburgh Penguins to five points, and six points to the Detroit Red Wings. Both teams have two games in hand on Ottawa and all three clubs play at 5:00 today.
Michael Kostka will replace Patrick Wiercioch in the lineup, who is apparently banged up. Andrew Hammond is expected to start on a back-to-back.
Here are the expected lines and pairings.
Hoffman - Zibanejad - Ryan
Smith - Pageau - Stone
Dzingel - Gomez - Chiasson
Paul - Lazar - Neil
Methot - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Ceci
Kostka - Wideman
Some notes for tonight:
- Karlsson needs 15 assists in the final 16 games to break Jason Spezza's club record for assists in a single season. It is looking tougher and tougher.
- Mike Hoffman being benched in the third period is comical. Call me cynical, and I am, but Dave Cameron has no leverage to hold onto his job. If Bryan Murray asks him to keep Hoffman on a short leash for contract purposes...
- Hoffman has 29 more shots on goal this year than any other forward on the team.
- Zack Smith's magical year continues with last night's game winner. He now has 17 goals and 25 points on the season.
- Since the NHL started recording ice time in 1997-1998, 15 times has a player average 29 minutes or more per game. Erik Karlsson is one of those 15.
- Ryan Suter's average ice time of 29:24 in 2013-2014 was the highest since Nicklas Lidstrom's 29:20 in 2002-2003. Karlsson needs to average 30:35 over the final 16 games to beat that.
- Over the last 41 games, or half a season's worth, Karlsson has averaged just under 31 minutes (30:56) of ice time per game.
- Mark Stone is ninth in the NHL among forwards with an average ice time of 20:14 per game.
- Ottawa is tied with the Los Angeles Kings for the most wins when trailing after two periods. The Senators are 7-22-3 when trailing after two periods. Ottawa is 18-2-1 when leading after two periods. This means Ottawa is 6-4-3 when tied after two.
- None of those records in themselves seem that bad, it's the trailing after two periods 32 times that is killing them.
- The Stars are just 2-5-2 in their last nine games. In four of the five regulation losses, Dallas scored three goals but allowed five or more.
Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from www.puckon.net. Note that Corsi is now adjusted for score as well as the venue and event type.
|Goals||Mike Hoffman||25||Tyler Seguin||32|
|Assists||Erik Karlsson||57||John Klingberg||43|
|Points||Erik Karlsson||68||Jamie Benn||71|
|Shots||Erik Karlsson||205||Tyler Seguin||255|
|Average Ice time||Erik Karlsson||29:07||Alex Goligoski||23:46|
|Event, Score and venue adjusted Corsi %||47.4%||23rd||53.5%||2nd|
|Event, Score and venue adjusted Fenwick %||46.9%||26th||53.2%||2nd|