The Ottawa Senators (8-12-1) are looking to take another step in the right direction towards turning their season around, a goal that would seem insurmountable if not for us having witnessed the legendary Hamburglar run of 2015. If they’re starting the comeback now, they’re way ahead of schedule!
Standing in the way of a third straight victory is a tough opponent — the New York Rangers (10-9-4), who have become a more well-rounded team this season, rather than “Igor Shesterkin and Friends”.
Both clubs are similar in that their records are not indicative of their play. In particular, finishing on scoring chances has been the biggest struggle for both squads. Even though you’d be hard-pressed to find a less fortunate team than the Senators in this regard, the Rangers are the exception, despite the strong shooting they’ve had in the past.
Beyond that similarity, both benefitted from good goaltending and are safely in the top half of the league in terms of your standard 5-on-5 possession metrics, such as Corsi% and Expected Goals%, with Ottawa slightly edging out New York in terms of generating quality chances, and the latter being the better defensive squad by a healthy margin.
With no morning skate today, the expectations are that the line-up will be close to how DJ lined them up on Sunday. The lone exception is Derrick Brassard, who did not skate yesterday but still seems likely to be good to go. Cam Talbot is expected to start in goal.
- Tonight’s game will feature the Sens’ Reverse Retro jerseys for the first time this season. I do enjoy the old-school “Senagoth” elements here, I just wish they did a bit more with the concept, including making the jersey red and using the era-appropriate logo./
- Sunday’s 3-2 OT victory against the Los Angeles Kings is a good example of how important it is for your top players to produce in key situations. Alex DeBrincat may have had a brilliant backcheck to keep the score tied late in the third period, but he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so had he not scored his sixth goal of the season in the second. Otherwise, it’s just another one of those games where the Sens are the better team in several areas, but still walk away with no points. If DeBrincat can get back to his goal-scoring form, that will go a long way toward the Sens winning the games they should — and the occasional game they shouldn’t.
- Ottawa’s defense has been a weakness at times this year, but you can’t have a discussion in good faith without acknowledging the time they’ve spent without Thomas Chabot and Artem Zub. The team has a 6-3 record when both are in the lineup, and they’ve done a good job of limiting opposing offense at even strength in 7 of those 9 games. Of course, the lack of depth on the right side is still a big issue, but the group as a whole is the best we’ve seen since the 2016-17 season.
- One way Ottawa could jumpstart their offense is by rearranging their group to have more than one quality line. All three of their best forwards are currently playing together, which might not be the best strategy when they’re already missing a top-six center in Josh Norris. I’d suggest moving Claude Giroux to center to play with Alex DeBrincat and Mathieu Joseph, with Drake Batherson moved to the first line, and Brassard playing right wing on the third.
- Tonight’s 7:00 PM EST game is available on Sportsnet One and TSN 1200./
|Penalty Kill %
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)
|Brady Tkachuk, Claude Giroux
|Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox
|Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox
|Time on Ice/GP