Instead of playing against each other in Beijing Friday night Brady Tkachuk and
Josh Norris will get a chance to match up against Brad Marchand I mean Patrice Bergeron, okay maybe the week's opening matchup has lost some luster. A chance to try and slow down Alexander Ovechkin, okay can we at least say hi to former teammate Logan Brown, for now at least. Oh and we play a team that has struggled more than Ottawa over the last 5 years to remind us it can always be worse.
Saturday February 12th, 12:30 vs Boston
Season record: 26-16-3, 4th in Atlantic, 14th in point percentage
Last 10: 4-5-1
Previous meetings this season: Nov 9th away 3-2 loss
- Patrice Bergeron, Head, Day to Day but did not travel
- Urho Vaakanainen, Face, Day to Day
- Jakub Zboril, Torn ACL, IR
- Brad Marchand, Suspension
The Bruins will be without two thirds of their top line as Pastranak will have to find success without the Canadian duo that has been one of the league's top lines. The Bruins are still a playoff team and a team with enough talent that they won't be an easy win, but they are definetly not the big bad bruins that they've been over the last decade. Currently hanging onto the last playoff spot in the east, although by a safe margin, the Bruins are about as average as you can get ranking 15h in GA/G and 16th in GF/G.
The biggest contributor outside the top line remains Charlie McAvoy who is somehow only 24 and is the only Bruin defnceman averaging over 20 minutes a night playing just over 24 on average. McAvoy is on pace to beat his career high in points of 32 with 28 this season already, largely a result of 15 powerplay points on what is usually a lethal unit. Former Sen Mike Reilly has put up only 10 points this year after signing his new contract but has scored 4 goals to match his total from the previous 3 seasons combined. Let the debate continue on if you rather have him and Dadonov or Holden and 2 3rd's. Another former Senator playing in a depth role in Boston is Curtis Lazar who has 11 points but has never topped 13 since putting up 15 and 20 point seasons to begin hsi career in Ottawa before being traded for a 2nd round pick that turned into Alex Formenton in a great trade, he also ate burgers in Ottawa and maybe should try getting back into that diet.
In net after a brief return Tukka Rask retired last week leaving free agent addition Linus Ullmark the majority of starts again after he signed a 4 year deal. It's been a fairly even split though for Boston with youngster Jeremy Swayman making 17 starts and posting slightly better numbers.
Sunday February 13th, 12:30 @ Washington
Season record: 26-14-9, 4th in Metro, 12th in point percentage
Last 10: 5-5
Previous meetings this season: Oct 25th home 7-5 loss, Jan 22nd away 3-2 OTL
- Alex Ovechkin, COVID-19 Protocols, No earlier than Feb 13
- TJ Oshie, Upper Body, IR
- Anthony Mantha, Shoulder, IR
- Vitek Vanecek, Upper Body, IR
Another chance for Ottawa to continue their rise in the standings as hopefully the consecutive early afternoon starts help Ottawa catch the Capitals in the middle of a mid afternoon nap without 3 of their top 6 forwards and "top starter". Washington may not rank in the top 10 exactly in goals or goals against but are 11th in both categories so with the slimest improvement in both categories could see themselves as a serious contender when the playoffs roll around, especially if they can avoid Carolina in the first round.
With Evgeny Kuznetsov still going strong at over a point per game including points in 10 of his last 12 games, Niklas Backstrom back in the lineup, 10 points in 13 games since returning from injury, and John Carlson still manning the point the Capitals are a dangerous team. Tom Wilson may have a reputaion as a dirty player physically but at some point we need to admit like Marchand he is good at hockey as well as evidenced by his inclusion in the All-Star game. Wilson is on pace for a staggering 60 points this season and has goals in 3 of the last 5 games.
With no Ovechkin in the lineup Murray and Forsberg can take a deep breath as Ovechkin scored a pair of goals in both games these teams played earlier this season. After allowing 4 goals in the first period in the first meeting between these sides the Sens limited Washington to 5 total shots in the first last game as they built a lead before two Ovechkin goals in the opening 10 minutes lead to overtime. Ilya Samsonov was expected to be the starter when Vanecek was drafted by Seattle before Washington reaquired him at the cost of a 2nd round pick. Samsonov struggled earlier in the year against Ottawa allwoing 5 goals on 37 shots. For those who feel like we've struggled against Washington in recent years, you're not wrong as Ottawa has lost 8 stright to Washington and I for one would be happy to see than end sooner rather than later.
Tuesday February 15th, 7:00 vs St Louis
Season record: 26-14-5, 4th in Central, 11th in point percentage
Last 10: 6-4
Previous meetings this season: None
- Marco Scandella, Lower Body, Day to Day
Well look at that a healthy team, they're so healthy even Logan Brown has avoided the injury list. The former Ottawa first round pick has played 17 games this year in the NHl almost matching his career total in Ottawa and playing 11:45 which matches his high from the 2019-20 season when he played 23 games. The real reason St Louis is in a playoff spot though is an offence lead by the league's newest fastest skater non-Formenton division as Jordan Kyrou already has a career high 42 points in 41 games. Kyrou has taken a step towards being a true star in the league as the decision by Seattle to not take Vladamir Tarasenk has allowed to pair up and lead one of the league's best offences.
The Blues may have won their cup in 2019 on the backs of Jordan Binnington and a strong defensive core but times have changed for the former champs as Binnington is being upstaged by the newest netminder Ville Husso. The Finnish netminder isn't a rookie having just turned 27 but in his second NHl season he has posted a GAA average under 2 and a SV% of .941 in 14 starts. Colton Parayko and Robert Bortuzzo are the only remaining pieces of the chanmpionship defence but the addition of Torey Krug with Justin Faulk and Nikko Mikkola providing a good 2nd pairing.
The unexpected secondary scoring for St Louis has been a big key to their success as Pavel Buchnevich, 37 points, Ivan Barbashev, 34 points, and Robert Thomas, 32 points, have all either set or are on pace to easily set career highs in points. A recent look at the Blues scores and a trend of scoring lots, 4 goals in 5 of 8 games, while also struggling to defend appears having allowing 4 or more in those 8 wiht Binnington being the main culprit having allowed 18 goals in his last 3 starts.
Thursday February 17th, 7:00 @ Buffalo
Season record: 14-24-8, 7th in Atlantic, 29th in point percentage
Last 10: 3-5-2
Previous meetings this season: Jan 18th home 3-1 loss, Jan 25th home 5-0 win
- Vinnie Hinostroza, Lower Body, IR
- Zemgus Girgensons, Undisclosed, IR
- Colin Miller, Undisclosed, IR
- Malcolm Subban, Upper Body, IR
- Jack Quinn, Lower Body, IR
- Will Butcher, Lower Body, IR
- Drake Caggula, Upper Body, IR
Don't let that long list of injuries fool you, Buffalo was bad with a full roster and by the time they play ottawa later in the week a couple of those players are expected to return including former Ottawa 67 Jack Quinn. Our friend Aaron Dell won't be playing but our actual former friend Craig Anderson has returned from injury and has made 8 starts for Buffalo as he plays into his 40's now.
With no Eichel in Buffallo the Sabres have some pieces but even with tage Thomson having a breakout season he still leads the team with only 32 points. A pair of veterans making 15 million are at least providing decent value this year in Buffalo as both Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo have their highest point toals in 3 seasons already and Okposo might even play himself into a trade with 50% retained salary.
Between Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokiharju the Sabres top pairing that are 21 and 22 respectively, throw in 21 year old Mattias Samuelsson it looks like Buffalo might have found a defensive group that might be a player or two away from being as promising as our own group. Owen Power could easily be the piece that pushes them from nice potential to great potential and if both teams improve as expected the mid 2000's rivalry could reignite so now is a nice time to get some early bragging rights.