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Game 74 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Calgary Flames

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The Sens go for digging themselves less of a hole tonight

NHL: Calgary Flames at Ottawa Senators
Will we get to see these guys fight tonight?
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

We almost saw the return of the Pesky Sens last night, with the Senators spotting the Canucks a 5-0 lead in the third period before clawing back to within a goal. Tonight we get to do it all again against the Calgary Flames. The Sens for their part will look to not fall behind by five before starting to score.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau might be suspended, while Cody Ceci is out with an injury. Filip Chlapik, Vitaly Abramov, and Erik Brannstrom were all re-called and flown across the country post-haste. My guess is Brannstrom and Chlapik get into the game, while Abramov is around in case of another injury. The actual lineup won’t be confirmed until possibly even game time. Anyway, with no morning skate and no media availability until tonight, here are my guesses at lines:

Tkachuk - Tierney - Veronneau
Duclair - Gibbons - Boedker
Balcers - Chlapik - Paajarvi
Smith - Lindberg - Ryan

Wolanin - DeMelo
Harpur - Jaros
Borowiecki - Brannstrom

Anderson (Starter)
Nilsson

Some thoughts:

  • Not sure why Jean-Gabriel Pageau got a hearing for his hit last night and Jake Virtanen didn’t — especially since Pageau was penalized in game but Virtanen wasn’t and often the suspension is about correcting missed calls — but at the same time, it hardly matters. It’s a lost season. Just really hurts the Sens who took the West Coast trip with a bare-minimum roster and had to do a bunch of re-calls.
  • I was more than a little harsh on Max Veronneau in his first game (and everyone made sure I knew it in the comments), so it’s nice to see him continue to contribute. Getting his first NHL goal must feel great. I was skeptical he’d actually be an NHL contributor, but right now he doesn’t look out of place on this team. If he ends up being a Jesse Winchester or a Colin Greening (a servicable fourth-liner), that’s fine. And he definitely seems to have the potential to be better than that.
  • Meanwhile, fellow NCAA alumnus Christian Wolanin just continues to impress me. Every game I watch of him, I wonder what the coaching staff looks for (big) in a player (size) that makes them (huge) think that someone like (enormous) Ben Harpur (large) is a more complete NHL player. He’s been over 24 minutes the last two nights, and really should’ve been with this team for most of the year over Harpur, or Maxime Lajoie, or Christian Jaros, or Justin Falk, or...
  • Craig Anderson gets the start tonight, his first in 10 days. He hasn’t won since December 17th, a span in which he’s played 14 games (12 starts), and been the losing goaltender of record 12 times. It hasn’t been all bad in there, with six of those games seeing him post a save percentage above .910. But a combination of him not being lights-out, him missing some time with injury, and the team not scoring goals means he’s searching for his first win in more than three months.
  • Brandon was wondering yesterday if Andy’s time in Ottawa is done with Anders Nilsson getting most of the starts. I think it depends on a couple things. First, Anderson would have to actually want a trade. I doubt they’re going to uproot him against his will at this point considering how little goodwill the Sens have in the NHL. Second, Nilsson would actually want to re-sign here. I think (because I’m a glutton for punishment) that Dorion’s learned his lesson about signing backup goalies to three-year extensions after Andrew Hammond and Mike Condon, so I doubt they’ll offer him more than one year. And if Nilsson thinks he can get more job security on a team that won’t be awful, he might spring for that. Also, a team would have to actually want Craig Anderson, and age-38 goalies with sub-.900 save percentages don’t usually attract a huge market.
  • I could win my fantasy league, so I’d like a big night from Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm tonight, while Brady Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund should be quiet (the Pageau suspension wouldn’t hurt either). I think a 9-8 Sens victory with the proper personnel could do the trick.
  • I’ll be at the game tonight! If you’re there, look for the group of Sens fans in Section 219. And probably a group of us will go out afterward, so mention in the comments if you’d like to join and I’ll share details in the comments after the game.

Team Stats:

Team Stats

Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Category Value Rank Value Rank
Goals/GP 2.96 18th 2.69 24th
Goals Against/GP 3.69 31st 3.25 23rd
Shots/GP 29.9 24th 32.6 10th
Shots Against/GP 36.0 31st 33.1 24th
Powerplay % 20.3 15th 18.2 18th
Penalty Kill % 79.1 23rd 80.7 16th
Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted) 44.32 31st 49.02 18th
Fenwick (5v5, SVA) 44.93 31st 49.03 19th

Player Stats

Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
-- Player # Player #
Goals Brady Tkachuk 19 Jeff Skinner 37
Assists Chris Tierney / Thomas Chabot 37 Jack Eichel 49
Points Thomas Chabot 50 Jack Eichel 75
Shots Brady Tkachuk 187 Jack Eichel 278
TOI/GP Thomas Chabot 24:07 Rasmus Ristolainen 24:42