Regression was eventually going to come for the Ottawa Senators. After starting the year by winning more than their fair share of close games, we all kind of knew in our heart of hearts that the luck wouldn't last. At the end of an 82 game season, you are what are you -- luck can only save you for so long. That said, all hope is not lost: even though they haven't been winning lately, the Sens have played some of their best hockey of the year in the last month or so. If at the start of the season you'd told me that the Sens would be in a play-off position near the mid-way point of the schedule and slowly improving their overall play, I'd have taken it in a heartbeat.
Against this backdrop, Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers roll into town. The Oilers seem to have finally, finally, emerged from the dregs of the league and they owe (almost) all of it to their young prodigy. Gone are the days when the Oilers were an easy two points on the schedule.
Here's Ottawa's projected line-up for tonight's tilt:
Dzingel - Turris - Ryan
Smith - Brassard - Stone
Hoffman - Pageau - Pyatt
Kelly - Lazar - Neil
Methot - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Ceci
Borowiecki - Wideman
Some notes for tonight:
- Connor McDavid continues to lead the league in point scoring and has a very strong case for the Hart Trophy in addition to the Art Ross.
- Somewhat quietly, the Oilers have put together a strong season; on top of their record, they're sporting a top 10 shot attempt differential and they look good by pretty well any metric.
- That said, the Oilers are really two different teams: one when McDavid is on the ice, and one when he is off the ice. If the Sens want to walk away with two points, it's imperative that they contain him.
- It will be interesting to see who Boucher chooses to try to counter McDavid's line. Guy has been reluctant to try to play "power on power" with his top line, often electing to use a checking line (typically featuring Pyatt, Kelly, Pageau) to counter the opposition's best talent.
- Guy Boucher was quoted as saying he thought the Sens had played a great game against the Capitals last night. This tells us a lot about the type of coach that Boucher is: Ottawa struggled a bit to generate offense but they undoubtedly limited Washington's chances. The Sens were also very visibly committed to the 1-2-2 trap -- this is Boucher's long-term vision for the team as a low-event, tight-checking group.
- Mike Condon starts for the 16th straight time tonight. If you'd wagered on that when the Sens traded a fifth round pick for him, you'd be a rich, rich person.
Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from Corsica.
|Goals||Kyle Turris||13||Connor McDavid||14|
|Assists||Erik Karlsson||25||Connor McDavid||32|
|Points||Erik Karlsson||32||Connor McDavid||46|
|Shots||Mike Hoffman||104||Connor McDavid||123|
|Average Ice time||Erik Karlsson||27:11||Andrej Sekera||21:49|
|Score and venue adjusted Corsi %||47.35%||24th||51.53%||10th|
|Event, Score and venue adjusted Fenwick %||47.71%||24th||51.82%||8th|