It’s been a bumpy road to start the season for the Ottawa Senators. After a strong performance in game one, success has been hard to come by.
Tonight, the opponent is the only other team with a record below 0.500 in the North Division. A team with higher expectations than the Senators but almost identical results. Despite having played two more games, the Canucks’ advantage over the Senators in the standings is only a single point.
Up front, Bo Horvat leads the Canucks in points with eight while Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes trail behind him with six. No Ottawa Senator would crack the top three in scoring, but they’re also two games behind in their schedule. Offensive dynamo Nikita Zaitsev heads into this one as the Sens scoring leader with five points while three players - Nick Paul, Josh Norris and Brady Tkachuk - sit behind Zaitsev four points a piece.
In net, the Canucks and Senators have one thing in common: it has been shaky. Newly acquired Braden Holtby is sporting a 0.888 SV% while the young stud trying to establish himself in Thatcher Demko has an 0.866 SV% so far. Similarly, the Sens have Matt Murray (0.880) and Marcus Hogberg (0.875) posting numbers the team would love to see improve. Overall, both teams have scored and allowed goals at a similar rate this season. Vancouver is averaging 2.85 goals for and 4.7 goals against while Ottawa has 2.8 for and 4 against on average. It’s almost eery how similar these two teams have started the season.
So what does that mean as the Sens kick off their three game mini series against Vancouver? It’s all going to come down to which team can buck the trend.
[Updated 2:41pm] Here are the lines from Ottawa’s morning skate.
Paul - Anisimov - Dadonov
Stützle - Tierney - C. Brown
Galchenyuk - Stepan - Watson
White - Haley
Chabot - Zaitsev
Reilly - Gudbranson
Wolanin - J. Brown
Coburn - Zub
- [Edited] Michael Haley was reassigned to the Taxi Squad this morning, clearing the way for Tim Stützle to return to the lineup. Today, he’s skating with Chris Tierney and Connor Brown as Nick Paul was bumped to playing on a line with Evgeni Dadonov and Artem Anisimov.
- The Senators are five games into the season and one trend has started to emerge - an inability to compete for a full 60 minutes. With the exception of their 4-1 loss to the Jets, the Sens were either playing well or hanging in there for the first two periods of every other game. They managed to finish off the Leafs on opening night but, after that, it’s been a series of fading as they round the corner. If they want to take points home in this series, they’ll need to figure out how to keep things rolling until the final whistle.
- At even strength, the Sens have had two games this season where they managed to get themselves onto the right side of the CF% conversation - opening night against Toronto and their overtime loss to Winnipeg. In every other game, they’ve either been slightly or greatly beaten in shot attempts. Ottawa currently ranks 26th in shots per game. The good news is Vancouver isn’t far ahead, at 20th, with only 3 more shots for per game.
- The line of Josh Norris, Drake Batherson and Brady Tkachuk has easily been Ottawa’s best line so far this year. When they’re on the ice, the Sens are just flat out a better team. Through over 40 minutes of even strength play, this trio is rocking solid numbers in virtually every category. The only thing they need? Even more minutes.