Game 5 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators at Winnipeg Jets

The Sens try to break their three-game losing streak

After an invigorating first win, the Senators have settled into the growing pains we expected from a rebuilding team. They’re still not a great team in a division full of good, though maybe not great, teams. They’re now on a three-game losing streak, and are looking to break it against a Jets team that they’ve lost to in their past two games. The Jets have moved Patrik Laine (and Nate Thompson) to the IR, so he will be out of the lineup for another game. It’s hard to know exactly what lines will look like, but here’s my guess based on the Friday practice lines:

Tkachuk - Norris - Batherson
Stützle - Tierney - C.Brown
Paul - Stepan - Dadonov
Paquette - White - Watson

Chabot - Gudbranson
Reilly - Zaitsev
Coburn - J.Brown

Murray (starter)

UPDATES: Haley and Anisimov are in for White (scratch) and Stützle (injury). Wolanin is in for Coburn (scratch)

It’s hard to know if White or Anisimov will play, but it seems like that Alex Galchenyuk will be a healthy scratch. Wolanin and Zub will both get into the lineup during the road trip, but considering it’s seven games long, it probably won’t be today. Smith isn’t announcing his starting goalies this year, but considering Högberg finished last game, I suspect Matt Murray starts again tonight.

Catch the game at 10 pm EST on CBC or NHL Network.

Some thoughts:

  • It’s early days, but the Sens are middle of the league in PP%, PK%, shots for per game, and shots against per game. That’s kind of come from two great games and two abysmal games, but still, that’s progress, right?
  • Per Natural Stat Trick, the Sens’ best player in terms of expected goals for is Brady Tkachuk, at 68.6%. Their worst player is surprising to me, in Chris Tierney (36.23%), but Paquette and Watson are both in the bottom four among forwards.
  • Matt Murray hasn’t had a great start to the season, but he also hasn’t got any favours from the team. I think it may be a hard season to evaluate his abilities as a starting goalie when he’s playing behind Thomas Chabot and then five not-great defencemen.
  • As much as I say not-great defencemen, Nikita Zaitsev has had quite the start to the year. He’s on a four-game point streak, with five assists in that time. He’s above 60% in 5v5 shots on goal, unblocked shot attempts, and expected goals-for. It takes more than four games to make a pattern, but imagine if Zaitsev turns into a top-four defenceman in exchange for salary dumping Cody Ceci?
  • Anyone else feel like Sens castoffs always lead the league early in the season? Bobby Ryan is tied for fourth in goals with four, and Mark Stone is tied for first in points with seven. /

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