The Ottawa Senators returned to action last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins after an extended All-Star break, and, unfortunately, the result wasn’t much different from so many of their games that came before it this year. We’re well and truly into the dog days of the season now, with a nearly zero percent chance of making the playoffs but also without a first round pick to look forward to. A match-up against fellow basement dwellers Detroit Red Wings doesn’t exactly inspire one to jump off the sofa with joy but there are still a few fun things to take solace in, notably:
- Colin White and Brady Tkachuk have undoubtedly benefited from riding along with Mark Stone, but the line’s sustained excellence is a real bright spot. Per Corsica, the trio boasts a 53.19 CF%, 55.04 xGF% and the Sens are +3 in goals with them on the ice. Those are the marks of a good first line. Encouraging stuff.
- Even after last night’s less than stellar performance, Anders Nilsson has been a very pleasant surprise for the Sens. I’d expect Nilsson to see a fair amount of action down the stretch. It’s an open question as to what they should do with him, but his play has been presented the team with a good quandary.
- He’s not with the big club right now, but Christian Wolanin has quietly been quite good and I also expect we’ll see him a fair amount during the stretch run. If the Sens really are serious about trading Cody Ceci, guys like Wolanin should really have a chance to show what they’ve got.
For me, this is what the rest of the season is going to be about: watching the youngsters and figuring out what their role can be in the team’s future.
On to the specifics of tonight’s affair:
- Mikkel Boedker was injured during last night’s game and won’t play tonight. Rudolfs Balcers has been recalled
- Guy Boucher was a bit unclear during his pre-game press conference as to whether the Sens will go with a 12-6 or an 11-7 alignment this evening
- Both teams are playing the second night of a back-to-back as Detroit is coming off of an impressive overtime win last night over the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have quietly played some very respectable hockey for the last 10 games.
- Dylan Larkin is having a fantastic season for the Red Wings, and is a real threat to break 35 goals for the campaign. He’s a real treat to watch, especially with the puck on his stick.
Here are some numbers, courtesy of NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick:
|Goals||Matt Duchene||24||Mark Scheifele||27|
|Assists||Mark Stone||31||Blake Wheeler||36|
|Points||Mark Stone||54||Blake Wheeler||65|
|Shots||Thomas Chabot||182||Patrik Laine||182|
|TOI/GP||Thomas Chabot||24:00||Dustin Byfuglien||24:32|