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Game 23 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators vs. Calgary Flames

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Well, I’lll be. An actual winning streak.

Calgary Flames v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

The Ottawa Senators are 5-2 in their last seven games. Yes, you read that correctly.

Ever since the hockey gods decided to show mercy to the Senators on February 13th, 2021, by allowing a Brady Tkachuk deflection to go through Connor Hellebuyck and give the team a 2-1 lead with seven seconds to go, we’re seeing a return of the excitement from the fanbase during the draft.

They’ve mounted miraculous comebacks, dazzled opposing netminders in the shootout, and revolutionized their special teams’ play while going toe-to-toe with some of the NHL’s top clubs.

All the while, an ill identity is spreading throughout the fanbase, which the team has injected into its brand.

On Thursday, the “Sens Sickos” decided to make things much simpler, demolishing the Calgary Flames by a 6-1 score, winning their third straight game in the process.

Today, they look to keep their streak alive with a repeat performance, in the second of three consecutive iterations of the Tkachuk Bowl.

With the defeat two days ago, Calgary now has a 9-10-2 record. Ouch. If the Sens can take their momentum and win a few more of these tilts, that’ll go a long way towards closing the gap in the race for...fifth-place in the division. Hey, it’s something, right?

Matt Murray didn’t practice yesterday, but he’s expected to play today. We’ll keep you up to date on any changes but here’s how they lined up in practice:

Stats (per NaturalStatTrick.com and NHL.com)

Team Stats

Game 23 Ottawa Senators Calgary Flmes
Game 23 Ottawa Senators Calgary Flmes
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 2.59 25th 2.43 28th
Goals Against/GP 3.86 31st 2.95 21st
Shots/GP 32.5 3rd 29.0 24th
Shots Against/GP 31.3 22nd 30.7 22nd
Powerplay % 13.0 27th 21.1 15th
Penalty Kill % 75.4 24th 80.6 13th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 48.63 23rd 49.85 13th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 47.76 24th 51.20 12th

Player Stats

Game 23 Ottawa Senators Calgary Flames
Game 23 Ottawa Senators Calgary Flames
Category Player # Player #
Goals Brady Tkachuk 8 Johnny Gaudreau 9
Assists Thomas Chabot 9 Elias Lindholm 13
Points Brady Tkachuk 15 Gaudreau, Lindholm 18
Shots Brady Tkachuk 95 Matthew Tkachuk 74
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 25:38 Elias Lindholm 21:34

Game Notes:

  • Matt Murray is enjoying some success in the Ottawa crease as of late, as he’s posted a save percentage above .920 in 7 of his last 10 games. His dreadful January will muddy his numbers this season, but keeping up the level of play he’s recently shown will make his four-year deal a lot more tolerable.
  • In addition to the improvement in goal, pucks are starting to go in at the other end for the Senators. This bodes well for their record, as the Sens have actually been slightly below average at driving play. Using NaturalStatTrick’s expected goal rates, they rank third-worst defensively, but their offense is eight-best. And things are trending up on the defensive side.
  • Tim Stützle is the most exciting thing about the Senators right now, and Drake Batherson is blossoming into a legitimate top-six forward, but let’s not forget about Josh Norris. With 12 points in 22 games, the 21-year-old ranks second in points among NHL rookies and is currently on the inside track for a Calder Trophy nomination. While he hasn’t been the flashiest player on the ice, his defensive play has been among the best on the team, and he’s had a larger positive impact on the team’s success than both Stützle and Batherson; his HockeyViz chart shows that shots are usually coming from low-danger areas while Norris is defending.
  • D.J., please keep Thomas Chabot’s minutes below 25 per game. It will benefit both him and the team, I promise you.
  • Lastly, and most important, Bonk’s Mullet has organized a special edition of Sens Money on the Board (SensMotB) in honour of Brian Fraser, who sadly lost his life to leukemia on Thursday. If this is the first piece you clicked on today, head over to the Weekly Question, where Brandon Maki has written about Brian’s legacy as a wonderful person and passionate fan. The process for today’s event is identical to that of opening night, here’s a refresher of how it works; be sure to click the embedded tweet to view the entire thread:

It’s a 1pm EST start today, catch the game live on TSN5, RDS, or Sportsnet West.