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Game 41 Preview + Open Thread: New Jersey Devils @ Ottawa Senators

They’re set to begin a tough stretch of 42 games in 81 days.

NHL: DEC 06 Senators at Devils Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Is it tough waiting six days for another Ottawa Senators game? Under normal circumstances, absolutely. After going through 1 game in 25 days earlier in the season, however, it’s barely a wait in comparison, especially with All-Star and Olympic content to keep us busy.

Following the All-Star break, every team in the league has had a chance to regroup, which means tonight’s opponents, the New Jersey Devils, shouldn’t be taken lightly despite having lost six games in a row.

The Senators have wisely chosen to be patient with former first-round picks Jacob Bernard-Docker and Lassi Thomson by re-assigning them to Belleville, but will the team’s play be hindered as a result? Both right-handed defencemen have certainly contributed to Ottawa’s 10-7-3 stretch over the last several weeks, but while veterans Nikita Zaitsev and Josh Brown’s numbers have been awful this season as a whole, both have improved in the team’s last 20 games, and haven’t been dragging the team down as they were in previous games. Both are expected to play tonight, as well as Dylan Gambrell (upper-body) and Connor Brown (jaw).

Based on yesterday’s practice, here’s how the Senators are expected to line up:

Tkachuk - Stützle - Gaudette
Formenton - Paul - C.Brown
Tierney - Kastelic - Ennis
Sanford - Gambrell - Watson
Chabot - Zaitsev
Holden - Zub
Brännström - J.Brown

Murray (Starter)
Forsberg

Game Notes:

  • It seems like the Devils are in a perpetual state of underperforming with each passing year. They saw some significant development last season from a number of their prospects, managed to snag the best free agent on the market in Dougie Hamilton, and Jesper Bratt has emerged as their best player with 41 points in 42 games. However, goaltending has made it all for naught. The fact that Mackenzie Blackwood and Jonathan Bernier have a combined record of 13-13-4, with a combined save percentage of .896 is proof of just how much they’ve held that team back.
  • Ottawa, while no stranger to shaky goaltending either, is benefitting greatly from Matt Murray’s .939 save percentage in his last 6 games.
  • The Senators are still without their leading scorers Drake Batherson (points) and Josh Norris (goals). Batherson’s progress has been very encouraging, with a projected timeline of 6-8 weeks as of now. As for Norris, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reported earlier today that he’ll be out for another 2 weeks. Hopefully the return of Connor Brown — who has 19 points in 26 games this season — is enough of a boost to create the necessary offense to get the two points.
  • The Devils will also be without a key player in their lineup — 2019 first-overall pick Jack Hughes, who has 28 points in 29 games this season, entered COVID-19 protocol yesterday.
  • Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM EST, and you can catch the action on Sportsnet One, RDS, MSG+, and TSN 1200.

Stats:

Team Stats

Game 41 Ottawa Senators New Jersey Devils
Game 41 Ottawa Senators New Jersey Devils
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 2.73 22nd 2.78 21st
Goals Against/GP 3.38 25th 3.53 29th
Shots/GP 30.5 19th 31.6 14th
Shots Against/GP 33.3 27th 30.7 11th
Powerplay % 18.4 22nd 16.3 25th
Penalty Kill % 80.7 13th 82.0 12th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 46.74 24th 49.75 17th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 47.00 24th 49.67 17th

Player Stats

Game 41 Ottawa Senators New Jersey Devils
Game 41 Ottawa Senators New Jersey Devils
Category Player # Player #
Goals Josh Norris 18 Jesper Bratt 14
Assists Drake Batherson 21 Jesper Bratt 27
Points Drake Batherson 34 Jesper Bratt 41
Shots Brady Tkachuk 132 Jesper Bratt 113
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 27:08 Damon Severson 23:37