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Game 1 Preview: Chicago Blackhawks @ Ottawa Senators

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Let the season begin!

NHL: Preseason-Chicago Blackhawks at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

After months of waiting — and these past months were especially long — hockey has finally returned to the nation’s capital. While the Ottawa Senators near-unanimously have the worst team on paper, a new season comes with new storylines, whether they be positive or negative. That’s part of the beauty (and frustration) of the NHL: it’s a tough league to predict, and even the most unfavourable projections can be flipped on a dime.

But then you look at the roster, and... well, it’s going to be a long season.

Despite all the wrenches that have been thrown at the fanbase over the past year, it’s still totally okay to be excited about hockey. Tonight brings back that fresh feeling for those who have missed it.

Roster Notes

Newly acquired Dylan DeMelo took a stick to the face during this morning’s practice, but will still suit up for his Sens debut. Ben Harpur will be the healthy scratch on defence.

Brady Tkachuk will also have to wait for his first game in a Sens uniform, as he’s day-to-day with an injured groin. He’s still training and was on the ice earlier today, as he hopes to be ready for Saturday’s game against Toronto.

Craig Anderson will handle the role as Ottawa’s opening night starter for his 8th consecutive season.

Here are the lines and pairings via TSN 1200:

Dzingel - Duchene - Ryan
White - Smith - Stone
Formenton - Tierney - Boedker
McCormick - Pyatt - Paajarvi

Chabot - Wideman
Borowiecki - Ceci
Lajoie - DeMelo

Anderson (starter)
Condon

Game Notes

  • Ten Three rookies have made the Sens’ opening lineup, in Lajoie, Formenton and White. Lajoie will be the only one making his NHL debut, after spending his rookie pro season in Belleville last year instead of being sent back to the WHL. Both he and Formenton have become the biggest storylines in training camp, as they’ve outplayed others who had a higher change in cracking the lineup such as Paul Carey, Filip Chlapik and Christian Wolanin.
  • With the Sens’ slew of trades over the past year, three more will be making their team debut in Boedker, Tierney, and DeMelo. All three were acquired via San Jose in the Hoffman and Karlsson trades.
  • As is home opener tradition, there will be a 4:00 o’clock red carpet entrance held at the Canadian Tire Centre.
  • In a mildly surprising turn of events, the Sens have resorted to giving away free tickets for tonight’s game. With over 2,100 tickets left as of yesterday (with nearly 4,000 remaining before the giveaway), this is almost certainly a move to avoid the national headlines.
  • Guy Boucher got a haircut, so there’s that.
  • Here are links to the Blackhawks’ expected forward and defence combos. Defenceman Henri Jokiharju, taken with the pick right after Shane Bowers, will be making his NHL debut on the top pairing.
  • With Corey Crawford still in injury rehabilitation, Cam Ward gets the start for Chicago. Collin Delia will back him up after Anton Forsberg was injured in the morning skate.
  • Game start is 7:30 p.m., and will be broadcast on TSN5, RDS and WGN.
  • In some awesome site news, the Sens are launching their ‘digital press box’ tonight, in an effort to better incorporate digital media, including us!. I’ll be covering the team from the rink this season, so expect more in depth coverage and interesting stories.

Here are some stats. Data is from the 2017-18 season, via NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick. Only remaining players included in player stats.

Team Stats

Category Ottawa Senators Chicago Blackhawks
Category Ottawa Senators Chicago Blackhawks
-- Value Rank Value Rank
Goals/GP 2.67 25th 2.78 21st
Goals against/GP 3.46 30th 3.10 23rd
Shots/GP 30.7 24th 34.1 3rd
Shots against/GP 33.1 25th 32.9 24th
Powerplay % 16.6 27th 16.0 28th
Penalty Kill % 76.2 26th 79.1 20th
Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted) 46.23 30th 52.03 8th
Fenwick (5v5, SVA) 46.84 27th 50.76 13th

Player Stats

Ottawa Senators Chicago Blackhawks
Ottawa Senators Chicago Blackhawks
-- Player # Player #
Goals Matt Duchene 27 Alex DeBrincat 28
Assists Mark Stone 42 Patrick Kane 49
Points Mark Stone 62 Patrick Kane 76
Shots Matt Duchene 190 Patrick Kane 285
TOI/GP Cody Ceci 23:20 Duncan Keith 23:50