The six-game losing streak may be over, but the Ottawa Senators haven‘t exactly convinced me they've turned things around just yet. Regaining fan trust is a long process when things have gone so poorly.
Against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Sens once again allowed four goals, and blew yet another two-goal lead, giving the opposition many opportunities to do so in the third period, erasing all of the good work they had done in the first 40 minutes.
Mercifully, the clock struck midnight on this reverse Cinderella story, and because it's illegal for the Senators to have a loser point of any sort, they were awarded the win in overtime.
At least with tonight's opponents, the Toronto Maple Leafs, their play against Ottawa this season does leaf a bit to be desired. The Leafs were creamed 6-3 in their first meeting of the season, and their 4-3 victory earlier in the month was the result of one of the more lopsided goaltending duels of the season.
Round 3 of the Battle of Ontario takes place tonight at 7:00 pm EST, on Sportsnet and TSN 1200. Here are the projected lines, with Joonas Korpisalo starting in goal:
- Drake Batherson has been one of Ottawa's best players in this tumultuous stretch of games – in the last 7 contests, in which the Sens are 1-6-0, he has 3 goals, 4 assists, and a -1 rating.
- I am thrilled that Erik Brannstrom hasn't been traded. He's once again providing 15 minutes of low-risk, quality hockey in the majority of games he's played. He's got 7 points in 24 games with a +6 rating, and leads all Sens defenders (excluding Thomas Chabot) with a 51.32 expected goals share at 5-on-5.
- How is Artem Zub a -1, but Travis Hamonic is a +2??? On one hand, you can tell me that's proof that plus/minus shouldn't be taken seriously as a stat, and that this is more indicative of Hamonic receiving much better goaltending support, which is the case. On the other hand, we've been making excuses for the goaltending all season, pinning the blame on the defensive structure. Which side of the argument are you on? I don't think it's strictly a case of one constantly letting down the other. The quality of personnel is important here. It just so happens that the goalies have been bailing the team out when weaker defenders are on the ice. Tough timing.
- Regardless of everything above, a victory against the Leafs always feels sweet
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