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Game 25 Preview + Open Thread: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Ottawa Senators

The two-time champs come to town

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators will face the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time this afternoon. The Bolts prevailed 5-3 in the season’s first match-up, the Sens’ fourth straight loss at the time. As the two teams prepare to do battle again, Tampa seems destined for the play-offs, and perhaps a lengthy defense of their title, while Ottawa looks to be consigned to the lottery yet again. Nonetheless, these are the types of games that a young team like the Sens should be using as a measuring stick: to be the best, you have to beat the best, and the Lightning have been the NHL’s model franchise for the better part of the last five years.

Here’s how DJ Smith lined ‘em up for practice on Friday:

Smith was unwilling to provide any final lineup updates, including who might start in net, during his media availability on Friday and with a 1 p.m start we likely won’t know who will slot where until warm-ups.

Game Notes:

  • The one thing we do know for sure is that Michael Del Zotto will not be suiting up for the Sens as he was put on waivers yesterday. Like with Matt Murray, I’m not here to defend Del Zotto’s play but it is really striking how willing the Sens are to just put veterans on waivers. Del Zotto, like Murray before him, is reportedly unhappy with the decision. As has been noted elsewhere, this is yet another indictment of the Sens’ professional scouting but it was also hard to justify continuing to give him ice-time. Certainly Smith was no fan. Will sending your marquee off-season signing to the AHL after he’s played only ten games for you have a negative impact on the Sens’ perception around the league? Maybe but I don’t think we can know for sure. It certainly is strange.
  • The other likely change is Alex Formenton moving up to the second line to take Nick Paul’s place alongside Tim Stützle and Connor Brown. Formenton notched a goal and an assist against the New York Islanders earlier this week to give him four points in his last four games — as many points as Paul has for the whole year. One of the big things I will be watching for is whether Formenton’s game-breaking speed can be put to good use in a scoring rather than a checking role.
  • Meanwhile, Tampa is coming off a 5-3 win over Toronto on Thursday night. Without Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning are being carried by Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman and to no one’s great surprise are near the top of the league standings yet again.
  • Puck drop on this one is 1 pm ET, you watch the game on TSN5 or RDS (en français) or listen on TSN1200 radio.

Stats:

Stats, as always, are courtesy of NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick.

Team Stats

Game 26 Ottawa Senators Florida Panthers
Game 26 Ottawa Senators Florida Panthers
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 2.64 26th 3.7 2nd
Goals Against/GP 3.72 32nd 2.7 12th
Shots/GP 28.4 29th 36.1 1st
Shots Against/GP 34.1 30th 30.6 11th
Powerplay % 19.10% 15th 18.80% 17th
Penalty Kill % 75.30% 27th 81.00% 16th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 44.81% 31st 57.13% 1st
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 45.20% 31st 56.26% 1st

Player Stats

Game 25 Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Game 25 Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Category Player # Player #
Goals Josh Norris 11 Steven Stamkos 13
Assists Drake Batherson 13 Victor Hedman 22
Points Drake Batherson 21 Steven Stamkos 32
Shots Josh Norris, Brady Tkachuk 65 Victor Hedman 69
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 27:26 Victor Hedman 25:00