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Game 65 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Tampa Bay Lightning

Interim head coach Marc Crawford gets thrown into the fire against the league’s best team

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the bar couldn’t be any lower than this, right? Coming off one of the first weeks in franchise history — three best players, head coach, and new arena all up in flames — the Senators, led by interim head coach Marc Crawford, stroll into Tampa Bay to face a dominant Lightning team chasing an NHL record.

The 1976-77 Montréal Canadiens put up 132 points in 82 games. Yes, that was with ties, but the fact that the stat is even coming up in regards to the Lightning in 2019 is incredible. With 102 points in 65 games, they are 13 points up over the second place Calgary Flames (89), and 20 points up on the Cup contending Maple Leafs.

To his credit, Crawford is... keeping the lineup the same????? There was some speculation that Boucher’s decision to scratch Christian Wolanin again was one of the reasons why he was let go, but given how the Sens lined up for practice this morning, it doesn’t appear like anything has changed:

Tkachuk - Tierney - White
Duclair - Pageau - Ryan
Smith - Lindberg - Paajarvi
Balcers - Gibbons - Boedker

Chabot - DeMelo
Harpur - Ceci
Borowiecki - Jaros

Anderson (starter)

Meanwhile, here’s how Jon Cooper’s Bolts are lining up, with Andrej Vasilevskiy in net:

Palat - Stamkos - Gourde
Johnson - Point - Kucherov
Killorn - Cirelli - Miller
Erne - Paquette - Joseph

Hedman - Girardi
McDonagh - Cernak
Coburn - Sergachev

Vasilevskiy (starter)

Extras: Martel (scratch), Stralman (scratch)

Game Notes

  • Anton Stralman has frequently been a healthy scratch this year, but would likely be the Sens... second (?) best defender. He’s the type of player that I’d take a run at on a one or two year deal in free agency for big money to a) meet the cap floor and b) be a good mentor for a young crew. All for loading up on 1-2 players instead of taking up roster spots and cap space across many different players.
  • A lot of conversation this morning has been on the betting line, with the Sens listed at -540 in some areas. Don’t really understand how betting works like me? The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn notes: “a good way to think about probability is that ottawa’s chances of winning tonight is only 4% lower than tampa bay’s chances of winning the stanley cup.”
  • The Daily Faceoff, which lists Player Ratings from the (now defunct), has Tampa having two first lines (Stamkos, Point), a top-tier third line (Cirelli), and a fourth-line with a top-nine part (Joseph). On defence, Hedman, McDonagh, and Sergachev are all first-pair quality, while Girardi, Coburn, and Cernak are all ~#4/#5s. It’s an interesting build for a team, which has loaded up on star power and distributes minutes more evenly than relying on one line (Winnipeg, Boston, Calgary). Vegas and San Jose come to mind as two teams that are built similarly.
  • Anthony Duclair and Colin White have been the Sens two best forwards over the last week — appearing noticeable on the ice and putting up positive CF%. Without Mark Stone, Brady Tkachuk (46% CF%) and Thomas Chabot’s (43.5% CF%) shot metrics have plummeted.
  • Marc Crawford noted in his pre-game presser that he “intends to go 12&6 most of the time unless injuries make 11&7 required.”

As always, here are some stats. Courtesy of and Natural Stat Trick:

Team Stats

Ottawa Senators St. Louis Blues
Ottawa Senators St. Louis Blues
Category Value Rank Value Rank
Goals/GP 2.93 18th 2.87 19th
Goals Against/GP 3.71 31st 2.75 7th
Shots/GP 29.9 23rd 31.6 16th
Shots Against/GP 36.0 31st 28.6 3rd
Powerplay % 20.0 14th 20.4 13th
Penalty Kill % 79.4 22nd 80.8 13th
Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted) 44.49 31st 51.61 9th
Fenwick (5v5, SVA) 45.01 31st 52.36 9th

Player Stats

Ottawa Senators St. Louis Blues
Ottawa Senators St. Louis Blues
-- Player # Player #
Goals Brady Tkachuk 16 Vladimir Tarasenko 28
Assists Thomas Chabot 36 Ryan O'Reilly 41
Points Thomas Chabot 49 Ryan O'Reilly 67
Shots Brady Tkachuk 170 Vladimir Tarasenko 235
TOI/GP Thomas Chabot 24:03 Alex Pietrangelo 23:51