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Game 33 Preview and Open Thread: Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators

Will Ovi surpass Gordie Howe in Ottawa?

Washington Capitals v Ottawa Senators Photo by Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

It’s game night in Ottawa against the Capitals, and hopefully a return home gets the Senators back on their December hot streak. They followed up Sunday’s lacklustre 4-2 defeat against the Wild with a lacklustre-er 5-1 loss to the Jets. It’s easy to forget the Sens are still 6-3-1 in December. After a day off on Wednesday, the Sens returned to the practice ice this morning, and these look like tonight’s lines:

Erik Brännström is out with a small injury from Winnipeg, meaning Dillon Heatherington gets his first game of the year. Stützle is a 50/50 to play, and Brassard will be the healthy scratch in that case. They also announced that Friday’s game against the Red Wings is postponed to February 27th due to weather, so this is our last game before the Christmas shutdown.

Some thoughts heading into tonight’s game:

  • The big story of course is Alex Ovechkin, who has spent two games at 800 goals, so he still needs one to tie Gordie Howe for second all-time. Will he do it here? After all, both his 500th career goal, and his 695th (which put him 8th all-time in scoring) came in the Sens’ arena.
  • On the one hand, it’s nice seeing guys like Chartier and Lucchini get shots they’ve earned. On the other hand, it might be nice to see some of the future of this team rather than Brassard yet again filling in for injuries. It’s interesting to me that Brassard is in the “first line or else healthy scratch” category. That seems unusual.
  • In December, Alex DeBrincat has 14 points in 10 games. I’d say that’s good.
  • I’d like to see the Sens try to keep Thomas Chabot’s ice time under 25 minutes. The problem is that D.J. Smith rolls him continually when the Sens are behind. Thankfully in Winnipeg, the Sens didn’t have a prayer at tying it, so Chabot came in a little under. I’m curious if having Heatherington in means Smith trusts him more (bigger so perceived as better than Brännström) or less, and how that affects Chabot’s ice time.
  • Keep your eyes on Caps’ defenceman Erik Gustafsson tonight. He has four goals in 33 games this season. All of those goals came in his past two games, including a hat-trick against the Leafs. Seems like he’s feeling it these days.
  • Forsberg wasn’t great in his start against the Wild, but neither was Talbot against the Jets, so let’s hope he gets it back together tonight. The Sens’ goalies have been good at rebounding from bad games this season.
  • The game starts at 7 pm tonight, with coverage on TSN5, RDS, and NBC Sports Washington, as well as radio broadcast on TSN1200.

Stats:

Teams

Game 31 Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins
Game 31 Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 3.03 23rd 3.88 2nd
Goals Against/GP 3.21 17th 2.18 1st
Shots/GP 33.2 7th 34.6 3rd
Shots Against/GP 32.4 21st 29.4 9th
Powerplay % 27.9 4th 29.3 3rd
Penalty Kill % 80.0 13th 84.7 3rd
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 51.28 15th 53.81 5th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 50.78 17th 56.05 3rd

Players

Game 31 Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins
Game 31 Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins
Category Player # Player #
Goals Claude Giroux 14 David Pastrnak 24
Assists Brady Tkachuk 24 David Pastrnak 23
Points Brady Tkachuk 37 David Pastrnak 47
Shots Brady Tkachuk 143 David Pastrnak 168
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 25:58 Hampus Lindholm 23:52