I feel like I may be the only one who wasn’t impressed by the performance of the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. Scoring on four out of five powerplays when you’re playing against the likes of Braydon Coburn and Erik Gudbranson should be the minimum standard for a team with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on it. They still allowed five goals to the 2021 Ottawa Senators, which is about as ugly a win as you could possibly imagine. You’ll tell me the Oilers started a 22-year-old goalie playing his first NHL game, but that just proves the goaltending on both sides was even. The cherry on top? Ottawa, without Thomas Chabot and Christian Wolanin, generated seventy percent of the 5v5 expected goals share.
Essentially, this is a game between two bad hockey teams, and it should be fairly competitive if the Senators are disciplined.
No confirmation on the lineup just yet, but here’s how they lined up yesterday in practice:
Expected forward lines and D pairings for Feb. 1's practice in Edmonton:— Sens Communications (@Media_Sens) February 1, 2021
Tkachuk - Norris - C. Brown
Paul - White - Dadonov
Stützle - Tierney - Batherson
Paquette - Stepan - Watson
Galchenyuk - Anisimov - Haley
Reilly - Zaitsev
Coburn - Gudbranson
J. Brown - Zub
- With Tim Stutzle set to play his 7th NHL game this season, the Senators will burn the first year of his entry-level contract. His performance overall hasn’t been great as he’s currently the team’s worst forward in terms of 5v5 expected goals %, but he’s looked a lot more comfortable in these last few games, and he’s scored a pair of highlight-reel goals early on. I’m perfectly fine with giving Stutzle a long look with the big club, especially with the current absence of AHL hockey, but the team should only play him for the full season if he doesn’t get consistently overwhelmed.
- At the other end of the spectrum, the team’s best players have been those featured on the “Chuk Norris” line, but it’s Nikita Zaitsev who continues to surprise in a good way. According to HockeyViz.com, he and Chabot are the only two Sens defensemen who have produced better-than-league-average results at both ends of the ice. The dynamic between the two isn’t what you’d expect, either. Zaitsev has actually outperformed Chabot this season when the two have been separated.
- Again, the Senators’ best player has been Brady Tkachuk, but he may improve even more throughout the season:
Brady Tkachuk - Feel like I haven't played my best and I want to lead by example and have a good start tomorrow night.— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) February 1, 2021
It’s a great sign of leadership to hear this from Brady, but there’s only so much he can do on his own. The Senators are going to need better play from others on the roster, or else even a first-class professional like Brady will eventually say something we won’t like
- It’s a 10 pm EST start tonight, available on SNOL, TSN5, and RDS.
Stats (from NHL.com and NaturalStatTrick.com)
|Goals||Tim Stützle||4||Nikolaj Ehlers||9|
|Assists||Nikita Zaitsev||6||Mark Scheifele||12|
|Points||Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris||8||Mark Scheifele||17|
|Shots||Brady Tkachuk||62||Nikolaj Ehlers||46|
|Time on Ice/GP||Thomas Chabot||25:02||Josh Morissey||23:58|
|Penalty Kill %||74.1||25th||80.6||15th|
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)||48.46||19th||48.2||21st|
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)||48.63||21st||43.46||30th|