Game 52 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators vs Calgary Flames
Can the Great Dane pull off a miracle tonight?
Saturday’s 6-3 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers could’ve been just another routine loss from which you could take a couple of positives, but it sure feels like there’s some otherworldly force out there that believes that anything good is too much for the 2022-23 Ottawa Senators (24-24-3).
After the game’s final goal, Anton Forsberg ended up on the ice in great pain and was carried off on a stretcher. Jake Sanderson has also been revealed to be out with an injury, albeit for two weeks instead of the rest of the season. Number-one center Josh Norris is still out, and the second half of the goalie tandem in Cam Talbot is not ready to return from his lower-body injury.
The new number-one goalie is 22-year-old Mads Sogaard — who is sporting an .898 save percentage in the AHL. And the Senators have four back-to-backs to play in the month of February.
Anyways, the Calgary Flames (25-18-10) are a dominant team at both ends of the ice, such that their play doesn't do their record justice, and are coming off of a 7-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres in which they held the Sabres to 4 shots on goal through 30 minutes of play.
The one saving grace for Ottawa is that they no longer appear to be cursed in terms of their 5-on-5 shooting percentage (they’re still cursed in a number of important areas, however), so it may not end up being the massacre it’s shaping up to be. They might actually win!
Hey, don’t look at me like that. They recently beat the Toronto Maple Leafs (during the regular season!!!) so anything is possible.
- First, a couple of notes on changes to the lineup, based on yesterday’s practice. With Sanderson out with an upper-body injury, Erik Brannstrom will skate on the team’s second pair with Artem Zub. It’s a good opportunity for Brannstrom to play more, get the occasional shift on the PP, and with his first goal of the season now under his belt, maybe he makes things a bit interesting down the stretch.
- Nikita Zaitsev will draw back into the lineup and will partner with Thomas Chabot. This pairing, hilariously enough, has a +1 goal differential at 5-on-5.
- Austin Watson will also return following a short stint on the bench. Dylan Gambrell will come out, and since Watson isn’t a center, Derick Brassard will move to the fourth line, while Tyler Motte will play with Shane Pinto and Drake Batherson.
- Forsberg’s injury is a particularly nasty one, with MCL tears in both knees. He’s out indefinitely, likely done for the season. Sogaard will start, and Kevin Mandolese, recalled yesterday, will back up.
- Ottawa will need to rely on their special teams to have a chance in this one. Their power-play (2nd) is much better than Calgary’s (24th), while the Flames have a slightly better penalty-kill (6th versus 13th). That said, the Sens will still need to have several stretches of strong 5-on-5 play to have a good chance of drawing enough penalties to make a difference. In short, Ridly Greig needs to go ballistic.
- Another thing holding the Flames back from being an elite team has been goaltending. Jacob Markstrom (.892) and Dan Vladar (.903) have put up these poor numbers in front of a team allowing very few shots and chances, which gives Sogaard a fighting chance in the impending goalie duel.
- Tonight’s game is a 7:30 PM EST start and is available on Sportsnet and TSN 1200./
- Corsi and Expected Goals are from NaturalStatTrick.com, everything else is from NHL.com/
|Goals||Tim Stutzle||22||Tyler Toffoli||21|
|Assists||Brady Tkachuk||32||Elias Lindholm||33|
|Points||Brady Tkachuk||52||Elias Lindholm||48|
|Shots||Brady Tkachuk||212||Nazem Kadri||173|
|Time on Ice/GP||Thomas Chabot||25:42||Rasmus Andersson||24:41|
|Penalty Kill %||80.6||13th||82.0||6th|
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)||51.19||16th||56.62||2nd|
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)||51.32||17th||54.88||3rd|