Senators @ Sabres
TSN5, MSG-B, RDS
Prev game : @Blues, Sunday, December 10th
Cold : Everyone... but Evander Kane (5P in last 10 games)
Injured : Jacob Josefson (IR - ankle), Justin Bailey (IR), Nathan Beaulieu (day-to-day), Taylor Fedun (IR)
The Sens and the Sabres come into this contest owning league-worst records their last 10 games, and are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Other than Evander Kane, Jack Eichel, and Ryan O’Reilly, no one else is scoring for Buffalo, who’s 102 goals against (hi, Robin Lehner!) are third-worst after Arizona and Florida.
If Nathan Beaulieu is out of the lineup, the Sabres won’t have a regular defender who’s positive in terms of shot metrics, and there’s a fighting chance that the Senators may be able to go a game without giving up four goals (!!!). Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella are performing okay as Buffalo’s top-pair, and the team’s actually in the top-10 of preventing shot attempts against, they just can’t transition the puck successfully and only generate 51.52 shot attempts per 60; Ottawa’s ranked 16th in the same category.
With the team playing a good Rangers team the next day, Buffalo’s the game to try and win, here..
Rangers @ Senators
SN, TVAS, MSG
Prev game : Stars, Monday, December 11th
Cold : Kevin Shattenkirk - 2P (2A) in last 10 games
Injured : Mika Zibanejad (concussion)
The Rangers are healthy, with the exception of top-line centre Mika Zibanejad (22P) as the ex-Sens forward is out with a concussion. The team’s currently on the outside looking in as they fight to be one of the five Metropolitan teams to make the playoffs, but their depth players have been on a hot streak recently and they’ve gained some ground on the Devils while keeping up with the surging Islanders.
With ~47% of the shot attempts and similar rates for-and-against, the Rangers are a statistically similar team to the Senators. The main differences? They’re shooting a percentage point higher (8.74%) and are stopping way more shots (.920 sv% vs. .906 sv%), which have led to more goals for than more goals against, and therefore, wins. Alain Vigneault’s squad also play more high-event hockey than the Senators, likely due to trusting their skill up-and-down their forward corps to compete with the best teams in the league. The Rangers have 14 players with 10+ points on the year; the Senators have 8.
This being a back-to-back will hurt Ottawa, but maybe the familiarity with playing the Rangers so often (especially in last year’s playoff series) will help the team channel some of that #system magic.
Canadiens @ Senators
CBC, SN, TVAS, NBCSN
Prev game : Devils, Thursday, December 14th
Cold : Jeff Petry, Max Pacioretty - 2P (2A) in last 10 games
Injured : Artturi Lekhonen (IR - LBI), Ales Hemsky (IR - concussion), Al Montoya (IR - concussion)
I don’t even want to imagine what’ll happen if the Sens get blown out by the Habs in their first hosted outdoor game in franchise history. Although key players like Pacioretty are still struggling and Shea Weber’s been in and out of the lineup, Carey Price looks back on form and Alex Galchenyuk is starting to produce.
Claude Julien’s Habs have always looked good from an underlying numbers standpoint — they generate a ton of shots from key areas on the ice and do well to defend the slot — but do look very different depending on if their top-six is on the ice versus their bottom six. Unfortunately, Ottawa’s depth being what it is likely won’t allow them to take advantage of this matchup, so we’ll be relying on some good ol’ voodoo for this one.