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Game 36 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators at Detroit Red Wings

I hate to talk standings, but this is a huge one for the standings

Ottawa Senators v Detroit Red Wings
Who has the best facial expression here: Tkachuk, Raymond, blurry Giroux, or the distracted baby in the background?
Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Well, well, well. The Senators have come out of Christmas break and rattled off wins, and wins against the crème de la crème Bruins and the surging Capitals, no less. Ottawa was the better team in Washington, and were full marks for that win. The Sens continue on the road, looking to turn this into a streak, and they take on the Detroit Red Wings. A regulation win would allow the Sens to tie the Wings in points (though Detroit will have a game in hand). Ottawa’s playoff chances are sitting at a measly 13.8% (per Hockey Viz), but a win against direct competition would boost that.

Dillon Heatherington was sent down yesterday, and DJ Smith confirmed yesterday this means that Artem Zub returns to the lineup for the first time since taking a puck to the face on December 2nd. Cam Talbot is your likely starter. Here’s how the lines shake down:

Some Thoughts:

  • I started looking at the Sens’ shot charts on Hockey Viz, and they kind of confirm what I’d been suspecting: the Sens are getting a lot of great chances but not burying them as much as other teams. The powerplay chart shows that Ottawa’s been all kinds of dominant, taking shots at a rate 10% higher than league average, with the bulk of those shots coming from the Giroux/Stützle sweet spot on the right side, or else right in front of the net. It’s been so long since we’ve seen Ottawa with above-average special teams, so this is so nice to see.
  • Everything anyone has said about Giroux and DeBrincat, just say them again here.
  • Jake Lucchini’s mom and girlfriend are coming in tomorrow to watch him play in Detroit. His dad couldn’t get it off work, so hopefully he stays up a few more games so both his parents can come watch. Good Looch (as opposed to Milan Lucic = Bad Looch) has only played in three games, but with 55.2% of the 5v5 shot attempts (score and venue adjusted, via Natural Stat Trick) and a whopping 72.1% expected goals for, he has been very good so far.
  • Jason Jordan Joseph Jared Jacob Bernard-Docker looked passable but not great in his first game back. With Zub returning, he can start playing more of the minutes he should be as part of his development, on the third pair. I’m actually very interested to see how an aging Holden and youthful JBD fare together.
  • The only Sens-Wings game of the season so far was a 6-3 Sens victory in which the Sens scored three powerplay goals and two shorthanded goals (one on an empty net). There will be two more meetings after tonight, which occur on back-to-back days in February (27th and 28th), one as a makeup for the December 23rd postponement.
  • Ottawa’s 8-3-2 record in December outclasses the Wings’ 4-5-2, so let’s hope the hotter team of late carries that momentum.
  • Game starts tonight at 7 pm, with coverage on Sportsnet 1, TVA Sports, and Bally Sports Detroit.

Stats:

Team Stats

Game 36 Ottawa Senators Detroit Red Wings
Game 36 Ottawa Senators Detroit Red Wings
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 3.03 23rd 3.09 18th
Goals Against/GP 3.17 17th 3.32 19th
Shots/GP 33.5 6th 29.7 24th
Shots Against/GP 32.7 23rd 31.9 19th
Powerplay % 28.0 3rd 21.1 19th
Penalty Kill % 80.7 11th 76.7 20th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 51.11 15th 44.92 28th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 51.13 16th 48.00 25th

Player Stats

Game 31 Ottawa Senators #Lumbus Blue Jackets
Game 31 Ottawa Senators #Lumbus Blue Jackets
Category Player # Player #
Goals Claude Giroux 15 Boone Jenner 11
Assists Brady Tkachuk 25 Johnny Gaudreau 27
Points Brady Tkachuk 38 Johnny Gaudreau 37
Shots Brady Tkachuk 160 Johnny Gaudreau 97
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 26:08 Zach Werenski (inj.) 23:36