We get to start the week by finally getting to play our closest rivals for the first time this season and hopefully adding to their painful season and extinguish the hope Martin St. Louis has given them. After that we get to face 2 of the league's best teams as we go on another Florida trip as the NHL continues to have them in our division for reasons. Let's hope we continue to dominate bad teams and scare good teams with the addition of a guy who we might buyout even though he's only 25.
Saturday February 26th, vs Montreal, 7:00
Season record: 12-33-7, 8th in Atlantic, 31st in point percentage
Last 10: 4-6
Previous meetings this season: None
- Carey Price, Knee, IR
- Shea Weber, Ankle, IR
- Jake Allen, Lower Body, IR
- David Savard, Ankle, IR
- Jonathan Drouin, Wrist, IR
- Joel Edmundson, Back, IR
- Christian Dvorak, Upper Body, IR
- Paul Byron, Upper Body, Day to Day
- Joel Armia, Face, Day to Day
- Tyler Pitlick, Personal, IR
- Mathieu Perault, Lower Body, IR
So you thought we were having a bad year for injuries, I'm not expecting sympathy but if we're being honest if our injury list looked like this we would be doing just as bad. Would I trade being 3 wins away from a stanley cup in exchange for a terrible season the year after, I would every time but also I think if the Sens make the finals it will have a lot less to do with luck. After firing the intern coach who got them to the finals the Canadiens turned to renowned coach Martin St Louis who had spent 1 season working in the NHL as a consultant and was coaching minor hockey at the time. After losing the first 3 games with their new coach, MOntreal has won 4 straight including wins over Toronto and ST Louis. Getting stellar goalie from a goalie picked up off waivers, wonder where I've heard that before, Sam Montembeault has allowed 2 goals or less in 4 of his last 5 starts. After making 19 starts in Florida the last 2 years the former 3rd round pick has made 18 already this year and has the been the best of regular Montreal goalies with a .902 SV%.
As much as losing Price, Weber, Edmundson and Jon Merril, you can count Phillip Danault if you want as the shutdown center, but with David Savard added to a group still having Jeff Petry, Ben Chiarot and Alexander Romanov plus Jake Allen in net having the worst defensive numbers in the league is a bad look. Unsuprisingly when a team is the worst in the conference and until 2 weeks ago on pace to be one of the worst of all time it's usually both ends of the ice they struggle. Maybe Montreal should have matched the offer sheet for Kotkaniemi as he would be 3rd on the team in points. Nick Suziki is again the young forward leading an offence that has been atrocious with only Josh Anderson and the traded Tyler Toffoli having more than 20 points. The excuses are minimal offensively so excuse me as I laugh at the idea ofCole Caufield being better than Pinto, Christian Dvorak being a target of Sens fan last offseason and former Sen Mike Hoffman as they all struggle for one of our biggest rivals.
Now maybe Montreal plays better the rest of the year under a new coach like last year and continues a vicious cycle of being terrible and falling for small sample sizes but for one night at least I want them to be exposed and to have a big return for Colin White and be extra greedy and call for a hat trick from Tkachuk as he continue to haunt them.
Tuesday March 1st @ Tampa Bay, 7:00
Season record: 33-11-6, 2nd in Atlantic, 4th in point percentage
Last 10: 7-2-1
Previous meetings this season: Nov 6th 5-3 home loss, Dec 11th, 4-0 home win, Dec 16th 2-1 away loss
- Zach Bogosian, Lower Body, IR
On the other end of the spectrum in the NHl you have Tampa Bay which is healthy, has been dominant all season and is still hot getting 25 of a possible 32 points over their last 16 games. The Canadiens are a team with poor play all around, Tampa is a team with a Vezina contender, a Norris contender and a group of forwards that can compete with any other team. The only reason Tampa might not be as scary as in years past is they lost their entire 3rd line and after playing more games than anyone else over the last 2 years and winning consecutive cups it's possible to catch them playing with only 90% effort. The shame is between Stamkos having his best season in 3 years to go along with the always dangerous combination of Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. With that type of offence and a goalie that has only allowed more than 4 goals in one game this season, the second game of the year at that, the Sens will need to come out ready to play a strong defensive game.
PLayers to watch out for playing good recently include Brayden Point on a 5 game point streak and 8 points in as many games, Nikita Kucherov has 5 points in 4 games since returning from yet another injury. Alex Killorn with 44 points and Mikhail Sergachev with 26 are both on career high rates so far this season as Sergachev continues to improve and is still only 23 years old. Corey Perry another former Canadien is having his best season in 4 years and is almost a point per game player who along with Pat Maroon provides the stereotypical veteran grit in the bottom 6.
In the latest meeting between these two teams Tampa Bay finally relented on resting Vasilevskiy after starting Elliot the first 2 meetings and managed to squeak out a 2-1 win despite only outshooting Ottawa 27-26 despite Ottawa playing Mete, Heatherington and Zaitsev only playing 4 minutes. Forsberg has allowed 2 goals on 52 shots in 2 games against the defending champs so I would expect him to get another start if DJ wants to rely on past performance and maybe a bit of luck.
Thursday March 3rd @ Florida, 7:00
Season record: 35-12-5, 1st in Atlantic, 3rd in point percentage
Last 10: 7-3
Previous meetings this season: Dec 14th, 8-2 away win
- Markus Nutivarra, Lower Body, IR
- Joe Thornton, Undisclosed, IR
I liked these trip through Florida more when they had lower attendance numbers than us (even wihtout restrictions) and weren't two of the top five teams in the league. After an offseason of talk about how Florida was going to manage paying Bobrovsky and develop future starter Spencer Knight, Bobrovsky goes out and is having his best season since signing his 7 year $70 million contract.
Since the holiday break the Panthers have gone 17-5-1 which is mostly thanks to the exploits of Jonathan Huberdeau who is in the midst of breaking into the top tier of stars. Huberdeau is leading the league in points with 74 points, 25 more than his closest teammate, including a league high 56 assists. Over his 9 game scoring streak Huberdeau has 16 points and is on a ridiculous 5 game streak of 2 points per game. The trade for Sam Reinhart is paying off for the Panthers as the former Sabre is putting up a point per game. The other winger on that line is none other than Anthony Duclair who may have signed for less than what Ottawa offered him before he left but playing for a contender, and in a tax free state, probably makes that an easy pill to swallow.
The scariest part of Florida's dominance offensively where they lead the league averaging over 4 goals a game is that in Alexander Barkov they have the reigning Selke winner. Alexander Barkov may not be the headliner if you look at points but there's a reason he's still the 1C even with Carter Verhage and Frank Vatrano on his wings. INclude a defence that's stayed relatively healthy and includes Aaron Ekblad who was the frontrunner for Norris last year before getting injured as arguably the best 2-way defenceman in the league and the distance between Ottawa and cup contention becomes clearer.
Getting 3 points this week would be a success, but realistically give me a big win over Montreal and 2 close games and I'll be happy.