Just ten games into the season, the Ottawa Senators are shaking things up to try to break out of a funk. The biggest news from yesterday was, of course, the team naming Brady Tkachuk the franchise’s 10th captain — and the first since Erik Karlsson in 2018. By the time they got around to doing it, the move felt like it had a certain inevitability to it but it was still good to formalize. Tkachuk even had some nice things to say about the community in his comments to the media.
The other big change is that, after much debate, DJ Smith has elected to break up his top pairing of Thomas Chabot and Artem Zub. The problem wasn’t what was happening when Zub and Chabot were on the ice, it was everything that was happening when they weren’t. Chabot will find himself back with longtime partner Nikita Zaitsev for today’s match-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Forgive me if I feel like we have seen this arrangement before.
Speaking of the Lightning, they’re off to a 5-3-2 start, but haven’t been their usual dominant selves. They’re without Nikita Kucherov for an extended period of time, again, and they’re actually sporting a negative goal differential for the season. Are they real contenders for a three peat, or are we witnessing the end of an era?
Here’s how the team practiced yesterday, in what is likely a good indication of how Smith will line them up this afternoon:
Friday practice lines.— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) November 5, 2021
(Watson not out)
Tkachuk Norris Batherson
Formenton Paul Shaw
Stützle Tierney CBrown
Sanford Gambrell Ennis
Del Zotto Pinto
- The Sens placed Austin Watson in COVID protocol yesterday. No update on his status as of this morning, or whether any other players will have to go into protocol.
- Matt Murray will get the nod. It was hard to fault Filip Gustavsson for any of the goals besides the first one on Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights, but four goals against is still four goals against. The Sens’ defensive struggles continue apace.
- The only constant in terms of line-up from Thursday is the top trio of Tkachuk-Josh Norris-Drake Batherson. The three have been dynamite so far, and with the offense being scarce from other sources the Sens will need their scoring leaders to keep up the good work.
- Tampa is coming off an overtime loss in T.O where they likely deserved a better fate but were victims of a stellar Jack Campbell performance. A lot of the top names remain from their title run last season, but with Kucherov out and the depth mostly picked over, this could be the season that Ottawa takes a couple from the Bolts. Today would be a good day to start.
- Puck drop is at 2pm EDT, and you can watch on TSN5/TVAS2 or listen on TSN1200 radio./
Stats are, as always, courtesy of NHL. com and naturalstattrick.com
|Nick Paul, Thomas Chabot
|Time on Ice/GP
|Penalty Kill %
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)