When the COVID-shortened 2021 season forced the Canadian teams to play only each other during the regular season, we missed out on the chance to see how the rest of the league was faring. Sure there were some fun aspects to the North Division, but I have to admit I missed the sense of sizing up the whole league. Tonight the Sens continue their reunion tour with old American friends/foes in a match-up against the Anaheim Ducks. To give you an idea of just how much the rosters have changed since the teams last played March 10, 2020, Ottawa’s second-last game before the COVID pause, only six Sens players that will suit up tonight played in that last encounter. In a neat twist, Michael Del Zotto was also involved — but he was playing for the Ducks.
Back to the season at hand. After Wednesday night’s loss in San Jose, the Sens find themselves with a 4-12-1 records — the same record after 17 games as they had last year. There are some mitigating factors to be considered, and it wouldn’t take much luck for Ottawa to be sitting on a 6-10-1 or 7-9-1 record, but the team’s depressing lack of progress on last year has got some folks asking some more pointed questions about management and coaching. I don’t think anyone’s seat is warm just yet, especially considering the recent extensions, but a last place finish can’t be what anyone had in mind to start the year. In the NHL no one hands you a win, though, so for the Sens there’s no around — only through.
- The Sens will ice the exact same line-up as last game, save Anton Forsberg gets the start with Filip Gustavsson as the backup. Murray struggled, again, against the Sharks on Wednesday and is listed as a scratch heading into this afternoon’s contest.
- It’s already been noted in a couple of places, but for my money Tim Stützle looked more than up to the task of playing centre on Wednesday night against the San Jose Sharks. With a play-off berth seemingly already out of reach and a boatload of injuries down the middle, now is absolutely the time to experiment. DJ’s indicated his willingness to experiment but it would behoove him to keep the young German in this slot even if there are some struggles. The potential long term gains are just too appealing.
- Not too many people would have had the Ducks pegged for play-off contenders at the outset of the season, but they’ve been one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. The breakout start is Troy Terry, who has 22 points in 19 games to lead the team. A fifth round pick from 2015 who had seemingly settled into a depth role, Terry is a name to keep an eye on for the Sens this afternoon.
- All stats are, as always, courtesy of NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick:
|Goals||Josh Norris||18||Sebastian Aho||19|
|Assists||Drake Batherson||21||Sebastian Aho||26|
|Points||Drake Batherson||34||Sebastian Aho||45|
|Shots||Brady Tkachuk||133||Andrei Svechnikov||130|
|Time on Ice/GP||Thomas Chabot||27:08:00||Jaccob Slavin||23:51:00|
|Penalty Kill %||80.0||15th||88.7||1st|
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)||46.66||28th||55.25||3rd|
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)||46.82||24th||53.99||5th|