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Game 67 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ New York Islanders

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Will this be the creation of a winning streak or the start of another losing one?

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New York Islanders Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Senators halted their losing streak at seven over the weekend, and will look to get on a win streak for only the seventh time this season against the Islanders.

Craig Anderson will likely get the start, while Christian Wolanin appears to be the odd man out. Here are the projected lines:

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

Chabot - DeMelo
Harpur - Ceci
Borowiecki - Jaros

Anderson (starter)
Nilsson

Meanwhile, here are the projected Isles’ lines, though several of them are game-time decisions:

Lee - Nelson - Eberle
Beauvillier - Barzal - Bailey
Ladd - Filppula - Komarov
Dal Colle - Cizikas - Ho-Sang

Leddy - Boychuk
Pelech - Pulock
(Devon) Toews - Mayfield

Lehner (starter)
Greiss

Some thoughts:

  • Christian Wolanin played 19:01 against the Panthers, had an assist, was the third-best Sens defenceman in terms of shot shares, so of course he’s scratched tonight. I wish I was surprised. Remember when Guy Boucher used to play the same lineup the game after a win, regardless of who was in? That would probably be better than making your lineup worse after a win.
  • Wolanin’s real problem is that he’s left-handed, where the Sens (allegedly) have depth. He has to grossly outplay Mark Borowiecki and Ben Harpur to get a shot in the lineup regularly. If he was right-handed, I’m guessing Christian Jaros would sit a lot, but here we are. At least Maxime Lajoie is regaining his confidence in the AHL. And assuming the B-Sens make the playoffs, Wolanin will be playing a big role alongside Erik Brannstrom in the playoffs.
  • Nice to see Rudolfs Balcers get a goal (and 18 minutes of ice time!) on Sunday. He’s another one who’ll probably figure into a big role if the B-Sens make the playoffs.
  • Those forward lines are all kinds of weird. Brian Gibbons has been way better than my expectations of offensive black hole, but putting him with the best offensive players the game after he didn’t hit 10 minutes seems odd to me. I’m assuming this was just coach mixing things up at practice, and then he’ll go back to playing either Chris Tierney or Jean-Gabriel Pageau with the young guns.
  • Clarke MacArthur had the best line after Zack Smith said he should come say hi to the guys: “What guys are you talking about? I’ll say hi to the trainers, those are the only guys left.” That’s how we all feel, Clarke.
  • I wish Bob Cole was calling this game only for that Pelech-Pulock second pairing for the Isles. Almost as bad as when Sedin-Sedin-Sundin was a powerplay line for the Canucks.
  • You’re going to read a lot over the coming weeks about what a great job Barry Trotz has done with the Islanders. Don’t drink too much of the Kool-Aid. The Isles are a poor offensive team who suppress shots somewhat — they’re below-average in goals scored, at the bottom in shots taken, and just below average in 5v5 shot attempts. Their secret? They lead the league in team save percentage, and thus are the best in the league in terms of fewest goals allowed. Robin Lehner was a steal of a summer signing, and he masks a very average Islanders team. So when Trotz wins the Jack Adams, you can sound all smart when you say to your friends, “He coached an average team with the league’s best goaltending.”
  • It’s funny how the Jack Adams often goes to the team with the best goaltending tandem, even though coaching hardly affects that. Last year, Vegas was an outlier, finishing only 11th in team save percentage. The year before, Columbus was 2nd. 2015-16, Washington was 2nd. 2014-15 was a true outlier with the Flames at 15th. The 13-14 Avs, 5th. The 12-13 Sens, 1st. 11-12 Blues, 1st. Not saying Trotz isn’t a good coach, just that I think Jon Cooper leading his team to a monstrous 15-point lead in the league standings probably has more to do with the coach.

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