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Game 80 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres

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Game 80! It’s almost over!

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Hey gang, we’ve almost made it. It’s Game 80. Three more of these things and we’ll be done with this horror of an Ottawa Senators season. They go to visit the Sabres tonight, another team that may have been hoping for a better season than the one they got.

Zack Smith sat out practice today, but it’s reportedly just a maintenance day, so he’ll take Mark Stone’s spot from practice, since Stone isn’t playing tonight. Erik Karlsson didn’t make the road trip (understandably), which means the Sens should be going with 12 forwards, 6 defencemen. Craig Anderson gets the start, with the newly recalled Danny Taylor as backup since Mike Condon has a concussion. Breathe. So after all that, here are my line estimates:

Hoffman - Duchene - White
Ryan - Pageau - Pyatt
Paajarvi - Smith - Dzingel
McCormick - Chlapik - Burrows

Chabot - Ceci
Claesson - Borowiecki
Harpur - Wolanin

Anderson (starter)
Taylor

Some thoughts:

  • Marian Gaborik has gone to L.A. to see a specialist. I’m guessing we’ve seen the last of him playing for the Sens, but if he’s not healthy, there’s no way the team can buy him out. Maybe he’ll pull a Chris Phillips and be on LTIR for all of 2018-19.
  • Curious to see Taylor get the call-up. I imagine if they actually wanted to see somebody play, they’d call up Filip Gustavsson. I think that means Andy gets the last three games of the year.
  • I’m really hoping Marcus Hogberg and Gustavsson split the AHL net next year. There’s no reason to bring in a lacklustre veteran like Danny Taylor again. I don’t know if Hogberg is the goalie of the future, but I know you can’t find out by making him spend half his life on the 401 between Belleville and Brampton. The fact that Taylor got 32 games this year is bad. The fact that Andrew Hammond got 18, many of them after the “trade” to the Avalanche, is inexcusable.
  • Back to the present. Have we seen Erik Karlsson’s last game as a Senator? Don’t worry, Sportsnet will ask that question for you at least three times per week until the draft.
  • Mark Stone may not play again this season, which really, is a great choice. There’s nothing to play for. Embrace the tank. Keep your best forward healthy. He’s still gonna lead the Sens in points (tied with Karlsson).
  • Karlsson’s 62 points in 71 games is likely going to lead defencemen in points per game (minimum 3 GP). We’ll see if Tyson Barrie of somebody has a big end to the season to challenge him.
  • In 2018, Matt Duchene has 41 points in 42 games. That’s pretty good.
  • Colin White and Jack Eichel are best friends. Probably not tonight though.
  • Even if the Sens win out, they can finish no higher than fifth-last. A regulation loss tonight would put them one up on Buffalo for last in the league with each team having two games left. If the Sens lose tonight in regulation, they will likely finish bottom-two in the league.

And now for some stats, via NHL.com except for Corsi/Fenwick from NaturalStatTrick.com:

Team Stats

Category Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins
Category Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins
-- Value Rank Value Rank
Goals/GP 2.68 25th 3.25 6th
Goals against/GP 3.44 30th 2.56 3rd
Shots/GP 30.7 24th 32.8 11th
Shots against/GP 33.0 25th 29.3 2nd
Powerplay % 16.7 26th 23.5 4th
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

Player Stats

Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins
Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins
-- Player # Player #
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