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Game 44 Preview and Open Thread: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators

Thomas Chabot’s favourite teammate is finally coming back!

NHL: NOV 13 Penguins at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been 38 very long and at times very painful games without Josh Norris. While the Ottawa Senators have been riddled with injuries all season, Norris’s injury has had the biggest impact both in terms of the level of skill missing from the team as well as the duration of his injury.

The Sens are currently on a 2-game losing streak, one of which was a complete embarrassment of a blowout. The win against the Arizona Coyotes wasn’t totally inspiring either considering who the opponent was, but we won’t argue with how they win as long as they do. The Sens are now 19-21-3 and sit at 7th in the Atlantic and 25th overall. They sit 13 points away from last place and 9 points away from the last wildcard spot, held by no other than the Pittsburgh Penguins. Losing tonight might really make the playoffs officially out of reach, although realistically that probably happened a couple of games ago.

While the Penguins are always a tough opponent, they’re coming into this game having won only 3 out of their last 7 games in January. These 3 wins came against the Coyotes, Canucks, and Ducks; so not the toughest tests. One would think the Sens should be able to at least have a competitive game against the Penguins, especially with the boost they’re getting to their top 6.

The lineup based on this morning’s practice - with Cam Talbot expected to start:

Game Notes:

  • There is concern that the Sens may be rushing Norris back after reports were very vague on when he would be ready but it seems they are playing it cautiously at least when it comes to face-offs where Giroux is expected to take most of the face-offs
  • In an odd decision by DJ Smith, yes another one, Mathieu Joseph will be a healthy scratch tonight. Some are suggesting a trade could be in the works, otherwise, it really doesn’t make much sense considering the lack of production from our bottom-6. The worst past about this decision is that Joseph was slated to play his brother tonight and many family members flew into the game for the event.
  • Cam Talbot looks to be the starter tonight. Between him and Forsberg, both goalies have suffered in various degrees this season. I would have given Forsberg the chance to shake off the game in Colorado but I guess Smith has other ideas. I’m still baffled that he kept him in for that entire game.
  • With Norris coming back, he was slotted between DeBrincat and Giroux. Personally, I would have tried DeBrincat with Stützle but it also just feels good to have two competent lines at the top again.
  • Game start is at 7pm tonight and you can catch the game on Sportsnet or listen live at TSN 1200

Stats

Team Stats

Game 44 Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins
Game 44 Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 2.91 25th 3.21 13th
Goals Against/GP 3.23 19th 3.02 16th
Shots/GP 33.3 6th 32.4 11th
Shots Against/GP 31.8 19th 33.4 26th
Powerplay % 26.4 6th 20.6 23rd
Penalty Kill % 82.2 8th 83.2 4th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 51.84 10th 50.04 19th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 52.09 12th 52.52 10th

Player Stats

Game 44 Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins
Game 44 Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins
Category Player # Player #
Goals Tim Stutzle 19 Sidney Crosby 21
Assists Brady Tkachuk 27 Sidney Crosby 28
Points Brady Tkachuk 42 Sidney Crosby 49
Shots Brady Tkachuk 183 Rikard Rakell 133
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 26:00 Kris Letang 24:32