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Game 22 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Minnesota Wild

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It’s the start of a mini road trip!

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Minnesota Wild
Matt Dumba helps Fredrik Claesson to lead the mid-game stretch
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After failing to come back against the Panthers on Monday, the Senators set their sights on a four-game road trip. They start tonight in Minnesota against the Wild, before going on to face the ex-Minnesota Dallas Stars, the Rangers, and then the Flyers, before returning home next Thursday.

Tonight’s lineup is unchanged from the previous game, per Brucey G. That means 12 forwards, 6 defencemen, and Craig Anderson starting his 19th game out of the 22 the Sens will have played so far this season. Here are the estimated lines and pairings:

Tkachuk - White - Stone
Boedker - Duchene - Batherson
Dzingel - Tierney - Ryan
Pyatt - Smith - Paajarvi

Chabot - DeMelo
Lajoie - Ceci
Borowiecki - Jaros

Anderson (starter)
McKenna

Some thoughts:

  • Poor Craig Anderson. He leads the league in games played and games started so far this season, and he’s 1:55 behind Marc-Andre Fleury for most minutes played this season. Andy’s 37, and right now between injuries and poor play, there’s no hope of relief on the horizon for him. Either Dorion trades for a backup, the team decides to play one of Marcus Hogberg or Filip Gustavsson regularly in the NHL, Mike Condon suddenly regains his form, or Anderson plays the more than 4000 minutes he’s currently on pace to play.
  • For comparison, Anderson’s career high was 4235 in 2009-10 for the Avalanche, when he started 71 games. He stole some wins for the Avs in the playoffs that year, but the next year he struggled with injuries, and didn’t regain his form until he was traded to Ottawa. Safe to say that now that he’s in the twilight of his career and making starter money, he’s not hoping for a draining 71-start season again.
  • Last year Connor Hellebuyck led the league in TOI with 3965:54. Cam Talbot was the only goalie to top 4000 minutes in 2016-17, so maybe we can look forward to Talbot’s current career trajectory for Anderson next year, except that Andy’s also eight years older than Talbot was at the time
  • Enough doom and gloom about the goalies though. There are things to be excited about! Brady Tkachuk now has 10 points in 10 games to start his career, and most importantly, he’s so much fun to watch.
  • Then on the second line, we have Drake Batherson who has the sweetest of mitts and the nicest of starts to his NHL career. His 1.67 points per games is tops in the NHL right now, just ahead of Mikko Rantanen’s 1.60.
  • Matt Duchene has 27 points, tied for 5th in league scoring this young season. Mark Stone’s 24 points have him tied for 16th.
  • The Senators have had three rookies this season score a goal in their first NHL home game: Tkachuk, Batherson, and Maxime Lajoie. The youth movement has definitely been a bright spot of the season.
  • Despite this, the team keeps insisting on playing Mark Borowiecki and Cody Ceci in the lineup. I haven’t been too impressed with Chris Wideman this season either, but both Boro and Ceci have historically been drags on possession for so many years now that I’m willing to give most of the team’s prospects a chance over them. Or put them together as an “energy” third pairing. Stop dragging down Lajoie (35% of 5v5 shot attempts with Ceci, 52% without), maybe see what Jaros can do with Lajoie (46% together) and give the rookies a chance to succeed. (All stats via NaturalStatTrick.com)
  • Personally, I’d also like to see Christian Wolanin up. He has 11 points in 15 AHL games this year, was a breath of fresh air last year in the NHL, and was rumoured to be on the fast-track to an NHL gig after last season based on comments by Boucher and Dorion. I think having Chabot-DeMelo, Wolanin-Jaros, and Lajoie-Ceci could actually be a pretty good D corps.
  • Maybe I’m just in a sour mood because this came up when I was searching to write this preview:
  • You can find the Wild lines on Hockey Wilderness’s preview
  • Game start is 8 p.m. EST, with coverage on Sportsnet 360, RDS2, and TSN1200 radio.

Stats:

Team Stats

Category Ottawa Senators Minnesota Wild
Category Ottawa Senators Minnesota Wild
-- Value Rank Value Rank
Goals/GP 3.57 1st 3.10 16th
Goals Against/GP 4.19 31st 2.67 7th
Shots/GP 30.1 23rd 31.5 16th
Shots Against/GP 38.0 31st 31.1 13th
Powerplay % 25.0 7th 21.7 12th
Penalty Kill % 68.2 31st 84.9 3rd
Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted) 42.92 30th 49.39 19th
Fenwick (5v5, SVA) 43.65 30th 40.45 15th

Player Stats

Ottawa Senators Minnesota Wild
Ottawa Senators Minnesota Wild
-- Player # Player #
Goals Matt Duchene 10 Mikael Granlund 10
Assists Thomas Chabot 19 Mikko Koivu 14
Points Matt Duchene 27 Mikael Granlund 19
Shots Thomas Chabot 62 Matt Dumba 67
TOI/GP Thomas Chabot 23:27 Ryan Suter 25:53