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Game 1 Preview + Open Thread: Senators @ Sabres

The Ottawa Senators finally open their season in Buffalo against the Sabres

Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

It has finally arrived! The 2022-23 NHL season is upon us, and Ottawa Senators fans can rejoice after what felt like an incredibly long off-season. The fortunes of the franchise seem to have shifted overnight, and all of a sudden the team has hope heading into this season. The playoffs are far from a guarantee, but it’s at least a realistic scenario for them.

It’ll be a long road to getting there, and it begins tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.

This season should be incredibly fun just based on the talented players the Senators have: Tim Stützle, Alex DeBrincat, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Brady Tkachuk, Claude Giroux, Shane Pinto, Thomas Chabot, Artem Zub, Jake Sanderson, and more. It’s something the team hasn’t had in years, and even in losses, there will be entertaining plays that make it worth watching the game. It’s just amazing that there is a real sense of optimism surrounding the organization.

Here are tonight’s projected lines:

Game Notes:

  • At the last minute, Tim Stützle and Josh Norris swapped lines. DJ Smith wasn’t seeing the chemistry, and I don’t hate the swap. Lines get jumbled all the time anyway so they might as well see what sticks.
  • I don’t expect the Senators to look fully polished right away. Adding two top players to the top-six doesn’t mean everyone has chemistry right away, so some growing pains are normal.
  • Can the Motte-Pinto-Joseph line continue their momentum from preseason?
  • I’ll be curious to see what the powerplay 1 unit will be, as I’m sure that will also get mixed up.
  • Nikita Zaitsev being the seventh defenseman is quite significant, because Smith was a big fan of his in the past. It’s pretty clear that they don’t want him playing here, and perhaps they can get somebody to take his salary later on.
  • Erik Brännström gets a chance to play with Nick Holden on the third pairing, which isn’t the best option for him but I liked what I saw from him in preseason and think he could still be a valuable player for Ottawa.
  • Derick Brassard won’t get into the lineup right away but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him draw in on Saturday.
  • The Senators are 6-2-2 in their last 10 season openers, including a 3-1 win against Buffalo in 2015 and a 1-0 win against them in 2013.
  • The Sabres are poised to be better than last year but they’re definitely a step behind Ottawa in their rebuild. However, Jack Quinn, Peyton Krebs, Dylan Cozens, JJ Peterka, and Owen Power are very interesting young players who have the potential to make the Sabres a quality team at some point. I’d keep an eye on them tonight.
  • Our old pal Craig Anderson is somehow still around and will be starting tonight.

Since there are no stats available so far, here are the player and team stats from last season:

Player Stats

Game 11 Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers
Game 11 Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers
Category Player # Player #
Goals Brady Tkachuk/Shane Pinto 6 Travis Konecny 4
Assists Brady Tkachuk 9 Kevin Hayes 9
Points Brady Tkachuk 15 Travis Konecny 11
Shots Alex DeBrincat 47 Travis Konecny 33
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 25:37 Tony DeAngelo 24:32

Team Stats

Game 11 Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers
Game 11 Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 3.7 5th 2.60 30th
Goals Against/GP 3.6 24th 2.70 6th
Shots/GP 31.9 15th 26.3 30th
Shots Against/GP 34.3 25th 36.7 30th
Powerplay % 21.2 16th 18.9 23rd
Penalty Kill % 78.1 18th 79.4 14th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 51.76 10th 38.22 32nd
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 52.23 12th 37.35 31st