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Game 70 Preview and Open Thread: Nashville Predators @ Ottawa Senators

Four wins in a row? Is that even allowed?

Ottawa Senators v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Thanks to the Washington Capitals’ victory yesterday, we can finally say for certain that the Ottawa Senators (26-37-6), for the 5th straight year, will miss the playoffs. There are, of course, reasons for optimism going into next season, but the primary concern is that this season has trended in the same direction as 2021 — they got off to a nightmarish start and picked up their play later on.

Until they can translate their improved play into some early success next year, I fully expect there to be some skepticism, especially if they’re content to stick with the same group without making an upgrade or two.

For now, the team is enjoying a three-game winning streak and is looking to make it four in a row, for the first time since...March 8th, 2017? My goodness.

This will be a more difficult game for two reasons. Firstly, their opponents are the Nashville Predators (40-25-4), who are a much better team than the likes of Detroit and Montreal, and feature a mix of sturdy team defense, lethal shooting talent, and a brick wall who’s managed to convince everyone he’s a human being called Jusse Saros.

Secondly, the Sens will likely be without Drake Batherson and Dylan Gambrell thanks to a non-COVID illness, as well as Tim Stützle, whose cholesterol is through the roof after taking in too much salt from the crowd at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Game Notes

  • Mark Borowiecki will play his first game in Ottawa since signing with the Predators after the 2019-20 season. Over the course of his career, the local product went from a consistent target of criticism from a large group of Sens fans to a beloved veteran, in large part due to a career season under D.J. Smith, his incredible personality, and support of the LGBTQ+ community both inside and outside of hockey. This season, he has 3 assists in 45 games with Nashville.
  • Between Batherson’s point-per-game campaign, Josh Norris’ 46-goal pace, and Mathieu Joseph challenging Andy Sutton and Ales Hemsky for the honour of being the best trade deadline acquisition in franchise history, one player whose offensive contributions have flown under the radar is Brady Tkachuk. Sens fans know very well what makes the captain a special player, from the relationship he’s built with the community, to his memorable media moments, but I was unsure whether or not his production would live up to the seven-year, $8.2M/year contract he signed at the beginning of the year. Well, he’s currently leading the Senators in scoring, with 52 points in 66 games, and is trailing only Norris in goals, with 24 (both career highs). A 64-point pace over a full season in conjunction with everything else he brings on and off the ice, absolutely makes that deal worth it.
  • I looked up Roman Josi’s stats for the first time this season — I knew he had to be around at least a point-per-game given he’s the favourite for the Norris Trophy, but 84 points (including 19 goals) in 67 games is just ridiculous. He also leads his team in shots on goal, an indicator of just how much the Predators rely on their blueline for offense.
  • The Senators in comparison, don’t get a ton of production from their defense corps, and Thomas Chabot’s season-ending injury only makes it more difficult. Michael Del Zotto is a player who’s stepping up in Chabot’s absence, with 4 assists in 7 games since his stint with Belleville, and 10 points in 17 games overall.
  • Tonight’s game will start at 7:00 PM EST and is available on TSN5, RDS2, and TSN 1200.

Stats

  • Stats are retrieved from NHL.com, except for Corsi and Expected Goals (adjusted for score effects and home-ice advantage) from NaturalStatTrick.com.

Team Stats

Game 70 Ottawa Senators Nashville Predators
Game 70 Ottawa Senators Nashville Predators
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 2.70 26th 3.30 8th
Goals Against/GP 3.22 23rd 2.88 12th
Shots/GP 30.3 20th 29.5 26th
Shots Against/GP 33.1 26th 32.2 21st
Powerplay % 19.5 22nd 25.0 6th
Penalty Kill % 80.6 12th 79.6 15th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 48.09 21st 49.74 16th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 47.31 22nd 50.30 16th

Player Stats

Game 70 Ottawa Senators Nashville Predators
Game 70 Ottawa Senators Nashville Predators
Category Player # Player #
Goals Josh Norris 30 Filip Forsberg 38
Assists Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle 28 Roman Josi 65
Points Brady Tkachuk 52 Roman Josi 84
Shots Brady Tkachuk 237 Roman Josi 236
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 26:23 Roman Josi 25:17