Which version of the Ottawa Senators will we see tonight in Columbus?
The return of Thomas Chabot should help immensely. A clear 5-on-5 contributor, Chabot's 52% CF% and xGF% will help a team that's struggled to hold onto the puck and generate zone time consistently against opponents. It'll also help bump lesser players out of the lineup – like Jacob Bernard-Docker tonight – and hopefully allow for his teammates Jakob Chychrun and Jake Sanderson to play their games.
Meanwhile, the Jackets will be hoping for a rebound after a 4-2 loss to the Montréal Canadiens. Columbus' November was like Ottawa's December, with the team playing 15 times and starting to get some victories near the end of the month until the setback against the Habs.
These were the lines on during the Sens practice on Thursday morning, with some notable changes in Giroux with Norris, Batherson with Stützle, and Sanderson playing the right-side with Chychrun. Joonas Korpisalo will face his former team in net, with Anton Forsberg – a one-time Blue Jacket – backing him up.
The Senators held an optional morning skate this morning, so it'll be interesting to see if these changes were just the team trying something new, or if it translates into the game. With Chabot activated from LTIR, Greig and Kastelic were placed on retroactive to November 3rd. Greig has been skating with the team for the past week and could return as early as next week, while Kastelic is a bit further away.
Meanwhile, here's what's up in Blue Jackets land, with the Senators facing Elvis Merzlikins in net:
- The Senators, from D.J. Smith to Claude Giroux to the returning Thomas Chabot, all preached messages of unity after Monday night's debacle. The Blue Jackets are the only team with a lower points percentage (.375) to the Senators' .471, so it'll be hard to excuse away a loss tonight.
- The Athletic's Aaron Portzline joined TSN1200 to give an update on the Jackets' season-to-date. Some notes? Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine continue to struggle in Columbus, with both producing at rates that are half their career averages; despite that, the team is scrappy and there's goal-scoring talent across all four lines that can catch teams snoozing.
- If the Senators are to take advantage of a matchup, it's against ex-Senators defenceman Erik Gudbranson. Whether he's playing with Ivan Provorov or Jake Bean, he's struggled.
- A star who is playing well? Zach Werenski, whose 11 assists in 15 games set a club record for most assists by a blueliner in a single month. The Senators are lucky to miss his pairmate, Damon Severson, who is day-to-day with injury, so perhaps they could exploit Adam Boqvist on Werenski's right-side tonight.
- Rookies Dmitri Voronkov and Adam Fantilli are sixth and eighth in rookie scoring respectively, while Kirill Marchenko and Yegor Chinakhov are having solid sophomore seasons. Voronkov is lining up for his first game at centre tonight as Cole Sillinger is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Jack Roslovic (fractured ankle) and Daniil Tarasov (knee) are the team's long-term injuries.
- Joining the young squad is first-rounder Kent Johnson, who put up 15 points in 10 games with AHL Cleveland and finds himself on the top line with Jenner and Gaudreau.
- It'll be fascinating to watch the Jackets on the penalty kill, which is second in the league at 89.2%, but doesn't track well when looking at the chances they give up.
|Penalty Kill %
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)
|xGF% (5v5 SVA)