Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers will be gracing the Senators with their presence this evening at the Canadian Tire Centre. The goal for our Sens? Be better than the last series.
In both games against the Oilers, the Sens fell behind incredibly early - once in the first six seconds - and were never able to recover. When you’re facing off against the two highest scoring players in the league in McDavid and Leon Draisatl, you’re in for that kind of battle.
The good news is that the Senators, since revitalizing their lineup with more skilled players, have played much better of late. Splitting their first series of the season against the Montreal Canadiens breathed some life into a frustrated team (and fanbase!) so, if there’s an opportunity to take some points from the Oilers, this lineup feels more likely to accomplish that than the team we saw a few weeks ago in Edmonton.
Christian Wolanin has been skating with the team and has been cleared to resume practicing but has yet to be given the green light to play in a game - it sounds like that will happen soon but not in time for puck drop tonight. Logan Brown was also recalled to the team and joined yesterday’s practice but DJ Smith said he’ll get into the lineup at a later date, once he’s had more practice time.
With no morning skate scheduled, this is how the lines will shake up tonight with no changes from last game:
Paul - White - Batherson
Stützle - Tierney - C. Brown
Galchenyuk - Stepan - Watson
Chabot - Zaitsev
Reilly - Zub
Brannstrom - Gudbranson
Murray ( Likely starter)
- If the Ottawa Senators are going to drag themselves out of the basement, the Matt Murray we saw in back-to-back games against Montreal - which saw him stop 94.3% of the shots he faced in both games - is going to need to be the Matt Murray we see every game moving forward.
- Tim Stützle has looked more and more like the dominant player from the World Juniors we were hoping he’d be. His four goals has him tied for the rookie scoring lead while having played 3-4 fewer games than the players he’s tied with. Look for him to continue his strong play tonight against Draisatl and the Oilers.
- Erik Brännström came into this season looking like the player who Pierre Dorion was so proud to acquire. Through two games, Brännström’s even strength performance has been fantastic, posting 54.55% CF% while primarily playing with noted possession anchor Erik Gudbranson. The swedish defender’s ability to move the puck has been a breathe of fresh air for this blueline and he’s looked strong in his own end through two games.
- Interestingly, on the season the Senators, as a team, have been stronger than the Oilers in a number of categories, including 5v5 CF%, but where they very clearly fall behind is scoring at even strength. The Oilers sit tied for 5th in the league with 27 even strength goals while Ottawa is 21st with 18, with a difference of only one game played. The Oilers also have a vastly superior powerplay - 26.5% vs. 14.8% success rate - while having an almost identical(ly bad) penalty kill - 72.7% vs. 72.3%.