There’s two games until the trade deadline.
While there’s looming anxiety in the air, the Sens and the Habs are two teams that started the season with different expectations but will likely wind up in a similar predicament when the curtain closes in April.
Of course, the hottest Senator heading into this match-up is Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the Habs vanquisher who likely still haunts Michel Therrien in his nightmares. We’ve been through a whirlwind with him over the last 48 hours, with conflicting reports about whether Pierre Dorion and co. are close to signing him to a contract extension, and others listing him as a likely target to be dealt before Monday’s deadline.
Here’s how D.J. Smith lined up his group at practice, which obviously needed tweaking after Cody Goloubef was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Red Wings and might need some more given pending trades when it comes time for the warm-ups. Christian Jaros was called up this morning from Belleville and will play in Goloubef’s place, while either Scott Sabourin or Mikkel Boedker will likely draw in for a forward should Namestnikov or Ennis end up being a scratch. We don’t yet know who will be starting in net, but I’ve listed Anderson for now as Hogberg was in goal for the loss against Winnipeg.
UPDATE: Vladislav Namestnikov and Tyler Ennis will both be healthy scratches tonight for “asset management” reasons. The lineup below has been updated:
Paul - Norris - Batherson
Boedker/Sabourin - Tierney - Brown
Anisimov - White - Hawryluk
Chabot - Hainsey
Reilly - Zaitsev
Englund - Jaros
Claude Julien’s Montréal Canadiens have had a disappointing season points-wise, and have already started to sell pieces with Marco Scandella going to St. Louis and some others on the block. We’ll see if they decide to hold out pending UFAs Nate Thomson or Ilya Kovalchuk, but right now, here’s what you can expect outside of similar question marks in goal:
Drouin - Suzuki - Armia
Byron - Domi - Kovalchuk
Weal - Thompson - Cousins
Chariot - Weber
Kulak - Petry
Ouellet - Folin
- The AHL’s second-leading goal scorer (30) and third-highest point getter (58) will be making his NHL debut tonight. Josh Norris has had a stupendous year in Belleville, really coming into his own as a speedy centre who has a good blend of offensive skills and a willingness to learn the defensive side of the puck. He’s a shoot-first player, leading all AHL rookies in shots on goal with 149, which has him ranked 12th league-wide. Lined up alongside Nick Paul and Drake Batherson, it’d be great to see them get somewhere above 13+ minutes of ice tonight.
- With Noah Juulsen on the IR and Victor Mete day-to-day, veteran defender Karl Alzner was recalled from Laval. The ex-Capitals player has two more years left on his contract at $4.65M per year, but will be making his NHL season debut tonight.
- For all the talk earlier in the year about the penalty kill, the Sens unit is firmly in the bottom-half when it comes to PK% and rank 28th in terms of shot attempts against per 60-minutes (CA/60). Sure, they get their fair share of opportunities — in fact, no team comes close to the ~25% GF/60 mark the Sens have down a player — so answering the question of “has the penalty kill been successful or not?” is going to come down to how you’re assessing success.
- The Habs have also been let down by special teams (and goaltending) this season, because when you look at their 5-on-5 play, they’re a top-five team in the league. Claude Julien’s group generates a ton of shots, which will be an interesting challenge for a Sens defensive corps that have struggled without Dylan DeMelo and feature at least four AHL-quality players at the moment.
- Leading the way for the Habs are their top line of Tatar - Danault - Gallagher, and their top two D pairs. Ben Chariot and Brett Kulak are split between Shea Weber and Jeff Petry, and have looked more than serviceable this season.
Here are some statistics, with most metrics from NHL.com, except for Corsi% and xGF% from NaturalStatTrick.com:
|Goals||Anthony Duclair||23||Anze Kopitar||21|
|Assists||Thomas Chabot||33||Anze Kopitar||41|
|Points||Brady Tkachuk||43||Anze Kopitar||62|
|Shots||Brady Tkachuk||258||Jeff Carter||182|
|TOI/GP||Thomas Chabot||26:02||Drew Doughty||25:51|
|Penalty Kill %||76.1||26th||77.1||26th|
|Corsi % (5v5, Score and Venue Adjusted)||48.25||26th||53.13||4th|
|xGF% (5v5, SVA)||49.74||19th||51.94||8th|