The Senators are now up to six regulation losses in a row, something the team hasn’t achieved since 1996. Don’t worry though, that season the team had 11 regulation losses in a row at the end of a 3-34-1 span. It’s always almost unbelievable how bad those early teams were.
Anyway, for tonight’s game, Boucher says that Johnny Oduya is back in, so Fredrik Claesson sits unless Mark Borowiecki’s puck-to-the-face in practice is too much of a big deal. Also, one of Colin White or Chris DiDomenico will sit unless Nate Thompson decides during warmup he can’t play. My money’s on White sitting since DiDo’s been higher up the lineup in recent games. Here are my projected lines and pairings:
Paajarvi - Brassard - Dzingel
Smith - Pageau - Pyatt
Burrows - Thompson - DiDomenico
Oduya - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Ceci
Borowiecki - Chabot
Some irrelevant thoughts:
- Oduya and Erik Karlsson get 51.7% of the 5v5 shots when they’re together (all stats via Natural Stat Trick). Karlsson and Thomas Chabot get 54.6% of the shots. Without Oduya, Karlsson leaps to 54.4%; Oduya without Karlsson drops to 47.4%. From a competitive standpoint, Oduya-Karlsson doesn’t make much sense. But if the goal is to drive up Oduya’s trade value, the best thing Boucher can do is keep playing him with the captain. Not to mention I’m hoping the Sens keep losing at this point and Oduya on the top pairing is one of the best ways to do it.
- Meanwhile, Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci are at 41.3% together, while both jump up to not-good-but-not-as-terrible 46% when separated. It’s a mystery to me why these two are still together years into the experiment. Both are decent with the puck and have decent offensive instincts. Phaneuf is slow, and Ceci is bad at gap control and clearing the net — both big deals on the defensive end of things. Phaneuf was never known as a shut-down guy, but for some reason both Cameron and Boucher have deployed him with the struggling Ceci in this role. I’d love to see them split up, but for some reason that’s impossible.
- Here’s hoping for some more trades, so we can see more of White and DiDo and Filip Chlapik (and Gabriel Gagne?) in the NHL. Also so there’s something to get excited about around these parts.
- With 34 games left, Ottawa is 17 points out of the final playoff spot, and 24 out of third in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa only has 39 points on the season. According to Sports Club Stats, if Ottawa went 27-4-3 down the stretch (a 137.5-point pace for a full season), they still wouldn’t be guaranteed a playoff spot. Conversely, if this team went 21-9-4 (still a 111-point pace), they still only have a 0.3% chance of making the playoffs.
- At the bottom of the standings, the Sens are only two points ahead of the Sabres for second-last in the league, but with two games in hand. In terms of draft lottery odds, that makes tonight’s game a must-lose.
- Only 34 games left. We can do this.
Here are some stats (from NHL.com and NaturalStatTrick.com), in case you like misery:
|Penalty Kill %||76.2||27th||83.3||4th|
|Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted)||46.32||29th||53.97||2nd|
|Fenwick (5v5, SVA)||46.94||27th||54.01||1st|
|Goals||Matt Duchene||27||Brad Marchand||34|
|Assists||Erik Karlsson (out)||53||Brad Marchand||51|
|Points||Karlsson/Stone (both out)||62||Brad Marchand||85|
|Shots||Mike Hoffman||253||David Pastrnak||236|
|TOI/GP||Erik Karlsson (out)||26:44||Zdeno Chara||22:53|