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Game 66 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Florida Panthers

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The Sens head into Sunrise hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel

NHL: Florida Panthers at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start with the good news: although the Ottawa Senators have lost seven in a row, there’s another team in their division doing just as bad. Thank you, Detroit!

Anyway: Marc Crawford’s crew has to quickly hit the reset button after last night’s debacle against Tampa Bay, as they face a Florida team that’s of significantly lower quality, despite some familiar faces...

Here’s how the Sens will be lining up, with Anders Nilsson in net and Christian Wolanin re-entering the rotation. As of now, there’s no word on who will be coming out for the young defenceman, but my money will be on the left-handed Ben Harpur:

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

Chabot - DeMelo
Wolanin - Ceci
Borowiecki - Jaros

Nilsson (starter)
Anderson

Meanwhile, here’s how Bob Boughner’s been rolling the Panthers lately, with starting goalie Roberto Luongo in net:

Huberdeau - Barkov - Hoffman
Dadonov - Trocheck - Hawryluk
Vatrano - Sheahan - Brouwer
McGinn - Borgstrom - Hunt

Matheson - Ekblad
Yandle - Pysyk
McCoshen - Brown

Luongo (starter)
Montembeault

Extras: Mackenzie (inj.), Sceviour (inj.), Weegar (inj.), Reimer (inj.), Malgin (scratch)

Game Notes

  • The Panthers have some really good pieces, including five top-six forwards (Huberdeau, Barkov, Hoffman, Dadonov, Trocheck), two top-pair defencemen (Yandle, Ekblad), and some decent NHL-ready forwards currently playing with them (Borgstrom, Hawryluk, Hunt) or soon to come (Noel, Tippett, Heponiemi). Where they really need help is on defence, where Mark Pysyk has taken a step back, and in the goaltending department.
  • Pierre Dorion gets a lot of (deserved) flack for being a bottom-tier NHL GM, but I think Dale Tallon should be in the running as well. He gets a lot of credit for putting together a decent Chicago team, albeit with many high picks, but losing two top-six forwards to Vegas to protect the (now traded) Alex Petrovic, in addition to Jason Demers (Arizona), are moves that have hurt his current team dearly.
  • Ex-Sens player Mike Hoffman has delivered for him, though, with the winger finally putting up his 30-goal season. We always knew he could...
  • Alex Barkov plays 22.5 minutes a night (!!!), and is a tremendous talent, but hasn’t consistently been a positive, play-driving forward this year.
  • Despite the fact that the team will likely miss the playoffs again, Bob Bougher’s systems seem to be helping, with the team ranking top-10 in some major statistical categories (goals per game, shots for per game, shots against per game, PP%, PK%).
  • On Ottawa’s end: Anthony Duclair continues to impress, and may certainly be worth a one-year deal to see what he can do with a new coaching staff next season.
  • The team’s bottom pair of Mark Borowiecki and Christian Jaros have been crushed at 5-on-5. The two are similar players — physical, active in the neutral zone, working on their offensive instincts, and struggle to exit their zone with control. Crawford noted that the Sens will try a rotation with their defencemen for the rest of the season, and I’d expect everyone but Thomas Chabot to get a turn sitting.

Here are some stats, via nhl.com and naturalstattrick.com:

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