One of the more puzzling aspects of this strange season for the Ottawa Senators has been their relative successes and failures against their opponents in the North Division. For whatever reason, Ottawa is a very respectable 3-3-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs; the best team in the division by a non-trivial margin. Against their opponents tonight, the Edmonton Oilers, the Sens are 0-7 with a shocking 15 goals for and 34 against. I don’t think it’s totally unfair to say that the Sens fully deserve that terrible differential, either: for whatever reason, they just cannot handle the Oilers
Sometimes there are deep tactical reasons for why one team struggles against another, and sometimes it’s as simple as one team’s best players have been better than the other team’s best players. If I had to venture an explanation for what’s gone on in the previous seven games these two teams have played, it seems to me it’s a lot more of the latter than the former: Connor McDavid and Leon Drasaitl have combined for 33 (!) points in those seven games. Normally I’m not a fan of aggregating points like this but 33 POINTS IN 7 GAMES! It’s a bloodbath!
Is it reductive to say that the Sens need to stop Draisaitl and McDavid in order to win tonight? Yes, but they also haven’t been able to do it yet. DJ Smith’s tried a lot of the conventional tricks, including hard-matching a checking line against the McDavid line, without much success. Does he have another trick up his sleeve? The outcome of tonight’s game likely depends on it.
Puck drop for today’s game is 5pm eastern, and you can watch on TSN5/RDS or follow along on TSN1200 radio.
There are a couple of questions marks, but here’s a guess at how the Sens are expected to line up this afternoon:
Stützle - Tierney - Batherson
Dzingel - Bishop - C. Brown
Formenton - Anisimov - Dadonov
Chabot - Zaitsev
Reilly - Zub
Coburn - Gudbranson
No game day skate for the Oilers, but here’s a guess at how they might line up. We do know that Koskinen is getting the start:
Kahun - Draisaitl - Yamamoto
Archibald - Turris - Kassian
Shore - Khaira - Chiasson
Nurse - Barrie
Russell - Larsson
Jones - Bear
- Connor Brown has goals in 4 (!) straight games, a nice run for a guy who’s seemed perpetually snake-bitten this year
- Colin White remains out, and is in fact on the IR, but there was some talk earlier this week that he may be returning in the not-too-distant future.
- Erik Gudbranson and his wife Sarah welcomed their first child, a son named Bennett, into the world. Gudbranson is apparently available but hasn’t skated in a couple of days (also his wife just had a baby!) so his status is up in the air.
- DJ Smith said in his media availability that Erik Brännström will play in either today or tomorrow’s game, though he didn’t say which one, and that the young blue liner would play “lots” after the trade deadline. Trades incoming?
|Goals||Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson||12||Connor McDavid||22|
|Assists||Thomas Chabot||19||Connor McDavid||42|
|Points||Tkachuk, Batherson, Chabot||23||Connor McDavid||64|
|Shots||Brady Tkachuk||155||Connor McDavid||142|
|Time on Ice/GP||Thomas Chabot||26:25||Darnell Nurse||25:43|
|Penalty Kill %||76.9||22nd||78.4||18th|
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)||47.11||24th||48.91||17th|
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)||45.88||27th||50.10||14th|