Game 29 Preview + Open Thread: Montreal Canadiens @ Ottawa Senators

Let’s go!

If the last few seasons have taught us anything, it’s that a match-up between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens will generate plenty of intensity — regardless of where the teams find themselves in the standings.

For the Sens, the first part of the year has not gone as planned, but with a 6-3-1 record in their last 10, there is some renewed optimism around the Canadian Tire Centre. If they want to keep the good vibes going, they’ll need to make do without their top two centres and one of their top blueliners as Josh Norris, Tim Stützle, and Artem Zub will all miss tonight’s affair and likely every game for the next couple of weeks. As DJ Smith is fond of saying, though, no one will feel sorry for you in the NHL.

For the Habs, their 14-12-2 record counts as a very pleasant surprise considering virtually every prognosticator had them pegged for the league’s basement. They might yet end up there by season’s end, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still tickled with how things have gone since Martin St. Louis took over behind the bench.

Game Notes:

  • Sens fans breathed a collective sigh of relief this morning when Smith revealed that Stützle had not suffered any structural damage to his right shoulder. He’s out at least a week nonetheless, but considering how dire things looked this can only count as good news.
  • In Stützle’s place, Derrick Brassard will be the pivot between Claude Giroux and Brady Tkachuk. So far this season Brassard’s had moments where he’s been able to summon a younger version of himself, and clearly the vision is still there, but he’s also looked totally overmatched on occasion. With the centre depth being what it is, he’s likely the best candidate for the job, and fortunately all the Sens need is for him to hold steady for a few games until Stützle can return.
  • For Montreal, almost all of the danger comes from the top line of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Kirby Dach. When that trio is on the ice, the Habs are competitive with almost anyone, but when they’re not, well, I like Ottawa’s chances. If the Sens can hold that unit in check, things look very good indeed.
  • Jake Lucchini will make his NHL debut tonight on a line with Rourke Chartier and Dylan Gambrell. Lucchini has been excellent for the Belleville Senators, notching 23 points in 24 games this season. When asked about what he brought to the line-up, Smith spoke positively of Lucchini’s speed and ability to pressure defenders.
  • Cam Talbot didn’t take the morning skate but is expected to start tonight, though the formal announcement will come at game time. Here’s how Smith is expected to line ‘em up:/
  • Alex Formenton has signed a contract with a team in the Swiss league for the rest of the season. In their announcement, the team acknowledges that Formenton remains under investigation for his potential involvement in the Hockey Canada sexual assault scandal, and that while they are extending to him the “presumption of innocence”, they also reserve the right to re-visit the contract should new information emerge. /

Puck drop is 7pm ET, you can catch the game on Sportsnet, RDS, or listen on TSN1200

Team Stats

Game 31OttawaSenatorsMinnesotaWild
Goals Against/GP3.1317th2.87T-13th
Shots Against/GP32.825th29.48th
Powerplay %28.84th25.510th
Penalty Kill %79.712th79.613th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA)52.36th50.7015th
xGF % (5v5 SVA)52.2111th51.9312th

Player Stats

Game 31OttawaSenatorsMinnesotaWild
GoalsBrady Tkachuk/Claude Giroux13Kirill Kaprizov18
AssistsBrady Tkachuk22Kirill Kaprizov/Mats Zuccarello21
PointsBrady Tkachuk35Kirill Kaprizov39
ShotsBrady Tkachuk131Kirill Kaprizov124
Time on Ice/GPThomas Chabot25:52Jonas Brodin22:!1

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