Wild @ Senators
TSN5, RDS, FS-N
Prev game : @Hawks, Sunday, December 17th
Cold : Mikko Koivu - 0P in last 10 games, Jonas Brodin - 1P (1G) in last 10 games
Injured : Zack Parise (IR - back), Devan Dubnyk (day-to-day - LBI)
The Wild, and noted contender for the Sens head coaching job a few years back — Bruce Boudreau — come into town on a minor two-game losing streak courtesy of Edmonton and Chicago. Eric Staal — signed last season to a bargain deal — continues to look like a shrewd pickup for GM Chuck Fletcher: the ex-Canes forward leads all Wild players with 28 points and is usually on a line with Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter.
Outside of this trio, Mikael Granlund, and the Suter - Spurgeon top-pair, the Wild are surprisingly vulnerable. Their depth is consistently outshot, and the offence as a group is relatively anemic at generating scoring chances — a Boudreau rarity. On the flipside, they’re preventing dangerous shots against their goaltenders (mainly Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock — both of whom have played average this season. This is enough to win them games (the Wild have 37 points and would be in an Atlantic Division playoff spot) but not enough to keep up with the Jets, Predators, and Blues in the league’s most competitive division.
Senators @ Lightning
TSN5, RDS, SUN
Prev game : @Vegas, Tuesday, December 19th
Cold : Cedric Paquette - 1P (1A) in last 10 games
Injured : Ryan Callahan (IR)
The cream of the crop in the East, the lightning are scary good and can strike multiple times, from multiple different players. Case in point: they had five players with 0.9 PPG in their last 10 games, and all regular forwards outside of Paquette at least had four points. They’re good.
Their one weakness? The Girardi - Coburn/Koekkoek third-pair, and on home ice, look for Jon Cooper to shelter them from the Stone line. They also give up a decent number of scoring chances from the middle of the ice, although they protect the front of their net well.
Last thing on Tampa: they generally don’t experiment much with their powerplay units. Stamkos, Kucherov, Hedman, Killorn, and Namestnikov on unit one, and Johnson, Palat on unit two with three newcomers: Brayden Point, Mikhail Sergachev, and Yanni Gourde. All three have been fantastic for the Lightning this season, and the strength of a good team is being able to fill in high quality skilled players into your top-nine and second-pair.
Senators @ Panthers
SN360, CITY, FS-F
Prev game : Wild, Friday, December 22nd
Cold : Jared McCann - 2P (2A) in last 10 games
Injured : Roberto Luongo (IR)
After surprising many teams the last couple of seasons, the Panthers are back in their usual spot: near the bottom of the Atlantic. Now, although Ottawa has two games in hand, they’re currently tied with the Panthers in points, so we can’t be taking them too lightly.
What’s the diagnosis? Florida is kind of like a more high-event version of Ottawa. They score a bit more, but also give up a bit more. They have a clear top of the lineup (Trocheck, Barkov, Huberdeau, Dadonov to match Stone, Hoffman, Duchene, Brassard) but inconsistent depth; a stable top-four (Yandle, Ekblad, Matheson, Pysyk); are generally outshot; and are getting sunk by <.900sv% goaltending like the Senators.
With aging Roberto Luongo out for an extended period of time, noted Sens killer James Reimer has taken over number one duty. I’ll call this the most winnable game of the week based on the information we currently have going in, including the fact that Florida will be the tired team on a back-to-back,