After a disheartening stretch of poor hockey, capped by an 8-5 thrashing at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes (?!), the Ottawa Senators have put together a string of three consecutive solid performances and come into tonight’s game against Chicago playing some of their best hockey of the season. It, of course, helps that the Sens are approaching a fully healthy line-up, but it has also been very encouraging to see the team’s cohesive approach to defense. Vegas, St. Louis, and Seattle all went long periods without so much as a shot on net. As the Sens’ schedule eases up for the next few weeks, it would be great to see a continuation of their defensive dominance.
Speaking of weaker opponents, Chicago kind of stinks. Good, couldn’t have happened to a worse franchise.
If the Sens want to prevail today, they’ll need to do what every Chicago opponent has attempted for the last few years: shut down Patrick Kane. Kane’s line with Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat does almost all of the heavy lifting for Chicago’s offense. An aging Jonathan Toews is a shadow of his former self, so there’s not much else going on offensively. With the last change, I’d expect the Zaitsev-Holden pairing to be out there a lot against Chicago’s top offensive trio.
Here’s how the Sens are expected to line up for tonight’s game:
Formenton - Stützle - Gaudette
Paul - White - Sanford
Kelly - Gambrell - Watson
Chbabot - Zub
Holden - Zaitsev
Brannstrom - Brown
- Both Thomas Chabot and Connor Brown were held out of yesterday’s practice. DJ Smith said in media availability this morning that both were game-time decisions but likely to play. Victor Mete and Tyler Ennis are waiting in the wings should the need arise. Here’s the coach’s full availability:
- Anton Forsberg gets his fourth consecutive start, and his stellar play of late has a lot of folks wondering what his future with the team might be. Pierre Dorion basically ruled out the possibility of his being traded during a media session on Friday, so we should expect the Swede to see a good chunk of the games the rest of the way.
- Chicago made two big off-season bets: trading for and then signing Seth Jones to a huge 8 year, $76M extension and trading for Marc-Andre Fleury. The Jones trade and contract look like an unmitigated disaster, as Jones has struggled mightily. Fleury, meanwhile, has been solid if unspectacular. It seems quite possible he will be dealt by next Monday’s deadline.
- Puck drop is 7pm ET, and you can watch on Sportsnet or follow along on TSN1200 radio.
As usual, all stats are courtesy of NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick:
|Goals||Josh Norris||33||Jared McCann||25|
|Assists||Tim Stützle||32||Yanni Gourde||26|
|Points||Brady Tkachuk||59||Jared McCann, Yanni Gourde (tied)||43|
|Shots||Brady Tkachuk||261||Jared McCann||174|
|Time on Ice/GP||Thomas Chabot (inj.)||26:23||Adam Larsson||22:10|
|Penalty Kill %||80.5||13th||75.1||26th|
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)||47.91||21st||49.03||19th|
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)||47.10||24th||47.34||23rd|