The Ottawa Senators head into this Monday night home game against the Florida Panthers with an 8-8-0 record, which is the definition of average. However, the season so far has had a ton of ups and down already. Their 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Friday was a frustrating one, and it ended their 3-game winning streak. A win tonight against a good Panthers team that has a record of 12-7-1 would allow them to not get into a rut again, and they also need to start winning all the games in hand they have on everyone else.
It's just the Sens’ ninth and final game of November, and they have a 4-4-0 record, which is lightyears better than past Novembers, plusa chance to finish with a better than .500 record. The boys will suit up for a whopping 15 games in December, and that madness will begin Friday, so establishing some momentum going into that stretch would be excellent.
These were the lines on Sunday morning, although they've changed a lot recently, so there could be updated ones:
Sens lines from their Sunday morning practice.— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) November 26, 2023
Mads Søgaard was sent down to Belleville as well, meaning that Joonas Korpisalo will at least backup Anton Forsberg tonight, but no starter has been named just yet. If Korpisalo is 100%, I'd expect him to go.
And here is how the Panthers looked at practice on Sunday:
Forsling - Ekblad— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) November 26, 2023
Mikkola - Montour
OEL - Kulikov
Mahura - Balinskis
Sergei Bobrovsky has started the last three games (including the last two losses), so it might be Anthony Stolarz's turn, but we'll have to wait and see.
- Along with Søgaard, Roby Järventie was also sent down to Belleville, and I understand why. He had one assist in seven games and averaged just 7:31 of ice-time per game. That's not a huge opportunity, but even when he was playing, he wasn't standing out nearly as much as he was in the pre-season. I hope he'll get a chance later in the season to prove himself.
- This is the first time the Senators are playing the Panthers this season, and another reunion for Matthew and Brady Tkachuk. They've already played each other plenty of times before, but it's always fun to see the two of them in the same game. Matthew has been struggling a bit with just 3 goals and 14 assists in 20 games.
- On Saturday, DJ Smith praised Drake Batherson's play after scoring twice, and he placed him on a line with Tkachuk and Norris at practice. However, that lasted just one day, and not even one game, as Mathieu Joseph was swapped with Tkachuk. It's too bad that there hasn't been any consistency with the top lines, because they need more from some of them. Whatever line Joseph has been on has been phenomenal though, so I expect that trio to be successful.
- I'm not loving having Vladimir Tarasenko with Dominik Kubalik and Rourke Chartier, as I just don't think he'll be able to produce much in that spot. Then again, the options are limited with Ridly Greig, Shane Pinto, and Mark Kastelic out.
- Thomas Chabot is eligible to return from LTIR on Friday, although it's unclear if he'll be ready to go. That's when the roster crunch gets interesting again.
- The Panthers have lost their last two games to the Winnipeg Jets and Boston Bruins, and tonight is their first of three games on an Eastern Canadian road trip. Despite being 2nd in the Atlantic division, they only have a +3 goal differential in comparison to Ottawa's +6.
- Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad will play in their fifth games of the season tonight, which makes the Panthers much scarier.
- It's funny looking at the Panthers roster because they clearly have lots of talented players—but also some obvious holes, exactly like the Senators. But they're sitting at 12-7-1, an enviable position to be in.
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