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Game 42 Preview: Minnesota Wild @ Ottawa Senators

Two players will be making their Senators debut.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Minnesota Wild Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a Sens game day, as they kick off a back-to-back at home this weekend. Their first opponent is the Minnesota Wild, who are starting to fall behind in the West’s wild card race after a weak December. Ottawa is meanwhile floating just above last place, trying to break out of a six game losing streak. Their last game was close, taking a point from the Vancouver Canucks in a 4-3 overtime loss.

Roster Notes

Two players will be making their Sens debuts tonight. Rudolfs Balcers, acquired from San Jose in the Karlsson trade, was called up yesterday with Jack Rodewald sent down. He’s been a staple on Belleville’s top line, with 14 goals and 26 points in 36 games. There’s also incredible nickname potential, although I have yet to see one that sticks. Give me your best ones in the comments.

The newly acquired Anders Nilsson will also be playing his first game for Ottawa as their starting goaltender. Minnesota’s goalie has yet to be confirmed, although Devan Dubnyk seems like the likely option.

Christian Jaros will also be returning from injury much earlier than expected, after originally being ruled out for a month with a broken finger following last week’s game against the Islanders. Hopefully it’s just some miracle recovery, and not playing through an injury, because we all know how that turns out. Boucher will go 11-7 if he is in fact ready, with the healthy scratch at forward still to be determined (although we know it won’t be Balcers).

Jean-Gabriel Pageau said yesterday that he’s feeling 100%, although he won’t make his season debut until tomorrow.

Here are the lines and pairings from yesterday’s practice, via TSN 1200:

Tkachuk - White - Stone
Dzingel - Duchene - Ryan
Smith - Tierney - Boedker
Balcers - Paul - Paajarvi

Wolanin - Ceci
Harpur - DeMelo
Borowiecki - Jaros
Lajoie

Nilsson (starter)
Hogberg

Game Notes

  • The Sens are on a bit of a losing streak against the Wild, having lost five straight. Their last win against them came on March 31st 2016, a 3-2 win where Pageau had a point on every goal.
  • Rudolfs Balcers is currently the only active Latvian player in the NHL, as Zemgus Girgensons is week-to-week with an injury. He’ll be the third Latvian to ever suit up in a Sens jersey, following Sergei Zholtok (1996-1998) and Kaspars Daugavins (2009-2013).
  • At 6’6”, Anders Nilsson is tied as the second tallest goaltender in Sens history, only behind Ben Bishop (6’7”) and tied with Matt O’Connor.
  • He’s also Swedish, which brings up a handful of connections to current players. Him and Paajarvi have especially played together a lot, being teammates at the 2010 World Juniors, 2010 & 2017 World Championships, and then for the St. Louis Blues (+ their AHL affiliate) in 2015-16.
  • Opposition player to watch: Zach Parise. He’s currently on a four-game point streak, with three goals and three assists in that span.
  • It’s an early puck drop today, starting at 1:00 p.m. (same thing for tomorrow’s game). You can catch the game on TSN5 or TVA Sports for French.

Here are some stats from NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick:

Team Stats

Category Ottawa Senators Los Angeles Kings
Category Ottawa Senators Los Angeles Kings
-- Value Rank Value Rank
Goals/GP 3.14 11th 2.23 31st
Goals Against/GP 3.93 31st 2.95 17th
Shots/GP 29.1 25th 28.2 29th
Shots Against/GP 37.0 31st 31.3 15th
Powerplay % 21.4 12th 14.9 27th
Penalty Kill % 74.4 30th 74.6 29th
Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted) 43.05 31st 47.24 25th
Fenwick (5v5, SVA) 43.39 31st 47.40 24th

Player Stats

Ottawa Senators Los Angeles Kings
Ottawa Senators Los Angeles Kings
-- Player # Player #
Goals Mark Stone 20 Anze Kopitar / Dustin Brown 11
Assists Mark Stone / Thomas Chabot 28 Drew Doughty 21
Points Mark Stone 48 Anze Kopitar 29
Shots Mark Stone 104 Tyler Toffoli 122
TOI/GP Thomas Chabot 23:52 Drew Doughty 26:32