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Game 14 Preview and Open Thread: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators

Can you even say “we’re a team” at this point?

NHL: MAR 03 Senators at Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I’m fairly certain this isn’t what we had in mind when we asked for changes to the Ottawa Senators lineup.

Alas, when your roster is clogged with one-way deals, a plague of injuries and disease is seemingly the only way to create the space necessary for said changes. It’s gotten ridiculous, folks. Nine in COVID-19 protocol, and four injured, one of which was revealed yesterday to be Erik Brännström. The only thing that’s even remotely funny about this is that the Senators have recently improved their play in spite of so many players being out, albeit while still losing games. They'll look to break their six-game skid tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Senators (3-9-1) are coming off their first shutout loss in a long time — a 2-0 defeat against the Los Angeles Kings. Even with Artem Zub leaving with an injury early on, the Senators’ five-man defense corps held up relatively well, with Thomas Chabot dominating as usual and Lassi Thomson impressing in his first NHL game. Someone named Dillon Heatherington was also there. His performance wasn’t worth discussing all that much, and let’s face it — that’s a significant improvement on some of the guys we’ve seen thus far.

Coming off a 3-2 shootout win against Florida on Thursday, the Penguins have been without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin this year, but strong depth and Tristan Jarry putting his hilariously bad postseason behind him have allowed Pittsburgh to secure a 5-3-4 record, good for...seventh? Yeah, seventh in the Metropolitan Division, that’s not a typo. The one team behind them, the New York Islanders, are also above .500 right now. Huh.

Drake Batherson is expected to play tonight after earlier news that he may have been placed in Covid protocol as well. Shane Pinto, who has been out since suffering an injury against the Sharks on October 21st, will be a game-time decision, as will Zub. Here’s how the team lined up this morning:

Game Notes:

  • The Sens are quite overdue for a sprinkle of good luck. We’ve seen the offense and defense show up time and time again, just not in the same game. They’ll score four against Minnesota and self-destruct in their own end, or they’ll hold their ground against Los Angeles and get blanked. Even with the roster they’ve got right now, all it really takes to win a game is a couple of goals and a strong performance in net.
  • Thomas Chabot has no goals and just one assist in his last seven games, despite firing twenty pucks on the net in that stretch Considering how much he’s played, it’s an absolute travesty.
  • I always thought Pittsburgh had it easy with their pro scouting. Just find a few wingers with a dash of skill, play them with Crosby and Malkin, and call it a day. Credit where it’s due, however, the depth players they’ve found have been required to step up in big roles in the absence of the team’s stars, and they're doing their part. Take Danton Heinen for example. After not being qualified by Anaheim last season, he’s got 7 points in 12 games with his new team.
  • Tonight’s game will air at 7:00 pm EST, on SN1, TVAS2, and TSN 1200.

Stats (from NHL.com and NaturalStatTrick.com):

Team Stats

Game 14 Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins
Game 14 Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 2.31 28th 3.08 12th
Goals Against/GP 3.46 30th 2.83 15th
Shots/GP 29.9 22nd 35.7 1st
Shots Against/GP 34.5 32nd 33.3 25th
Powerplay % 16.3 21st 10.0 31st
Penalty Kill % 70.6 28th 93.3 1st
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 44.63 28th 51.96 9th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 47.13 25th 54.52 6th

Player Stats

Game 14 Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins
Game 14 Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins
Category Player # Player #
Goals Josh Norris 6 Evan Rodrigues, Danton Heinen 4
Assists Drake Batherson 7 Kris Letang 6
Points Drake Batherson 12 Evan Rodrigues, Jake Guentzel 8
Shots Thomas Chabot 40 Jason Zucker 38
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 27:37 Kris Letang 27:38