Game 51 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens
Only two chances left to stick it to the Habs
After limping out of the gate with one win in their first ten games (two in their first fifteen) it felt like the season couldn’t end soon enough and we all had another draft lottery on our collective minds. Now as the end of the season draws near, the Sens have found their groove with wins in six of their last ten (ten in their last twenty). So it goes. We’ll have plenty to look forward to in the fall at least. After a couple of especially ugly losses against Edmonton in early March, the Senators seemingly shed their clown shoes and started to look like an honest to god NHL team. It feels like all the right players have made big contributions to the team’s recent success (coupled with some timely saves from their goalies) and more and more people are asking if the Ottawa Senators are too good.
The young Senators have learned to embrace the role of thorn in the side of their older, more immediately ambitious division rivals, and have refined their identity as the obnoxious little siblings here to crash the party of the older Canadian teams lacking such a sense of humour. The kids still have plenty to play for in terms of confidence, expanding roles, and locker-room bragging rights. Expect nothing less than a scrappy, spirited Saturday night showcase between the most exciting team in the Northeast and the team who wishes they would getting invited for the ride.
Ottawa ran these lines at Friday’s practice:
Stützle - White - Dadonov
Abramov - Pinto - Paul
Dzingel- Tierney - Brown
Chabot - Zaitsev
Brännström - Zub
Mete - Brown
While Montreal implemented this lineup Friday night:
Toffoli - Suzuki - Armia
Lehkonen - Evans - Caulfield
Frolik - Staal - Perry
Chiarot - Romanov
Edmundson - Petry
Gustafsson - Merrill
- With the season series currently at 5-3-0 in Ottawa’s favour, the Senators can do no worse than .500 against their closest geographical rival in this the year of our lord 2021. Montreal tends to fare better in the nerd stats while Ottawa has closed the gap in categories like shooting, save percentage, and on special teams. Go Sens Go.
- Montreal has had to deal with a lot of crucial absences down the stretch as they attempt to clinch a playoff berth. Jonathan Drouin has taken a personal leave of absence, Brendan Gallagher remains sidelined with injury, Carey Price continues to recover from a concussion, and Shea Weber and Tomas Tatar missed Friday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. Take the points and run.
- Filip Gustavsson could start for the Senators depending on Anton Forsberg’s availability. Ottawa’s crease this season has eerily resembled Mr. Burns’ super-team in “Homer at the Bat” in terms of misfortune.
- The team held Alex Formenton out of practice on Friday as a precaution due to illness. Vitaly Abramov skated in Formenton’s place and could play in his first NHL game of the season. Forms has quickly become one of Ottawa’s most important penalty killers, averaging just over two minutes of PK time per game and he (obviously) already leads all Senators in shorthanded individual expected-goals (1.16). Shane Pinto ranks second(?!)(1.02).
- For the final time this season, Ottawa will have the rest advantage having had a day off yesterday and playing against a team who played last night. That coupled with those aforementioned injuries for Montreal should make these two very realistic points for a Senators team looking to play sicko spoiler. Montreal have not quite locked up a playoff spot and Ottawa still have the faintest statistical shot per Micah Blake McCurdy.
- Catch the game on SN, TVA, and TSN 1200 at 7PM EST/
|Assists||Thomas Chabot||25||Jeff Petry||24|
|Points||Brady Tkachuk||34||Tyler Toffoli||38|
|Shots||Brady Tkachuk||201||Tyler Toffoli||143|
|Time on Ice/GP||Thomas Chabot||26:41||Shea Weber||22:42|
|Penalty Kill %||78.4||21st||77.1||25th|
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)||47.9||23rd||55.0||2nd|
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)||47.2||22nd||53.8||6th|