Game 53 Preview and Open Thread: Chicago Blackhawks at Ottawa Senators

It’s Chris Neil jersey retirement night!

Well, would you look at that. The Senators came back from the all-star break to a terrible game. Since then, they’ve won two (giving them six wins in their past seven games), meaning that Mads Søgaard and Kevin Mandolese have both won 100% of their starts this year. Those wins came in overtime and the shootout, so they weren’t dominant, but you have to win close games to be a good team.

Tonight is extra special though because it’s the night when Chris Neil’s no. 25 gets retired. Expect a significant pre-game ceremony, with speeches from Alfie and Phillips, and likely little tidbits from a bunch of classic Sens. It should be fun nostalgia, and it’s always great to see a tough guy get emotional. Fans have been encouraged to be in their seats by 6 p.m., so likely the ceremony won’t eat too much into the game start time.

It’s confirmed that Søgaard starts tonight. I expect Mandolese gets the Sunday start against the Blues, and then poor Søgaard gets the start against the otherworldly Bruins on Monday. Here are the lines, per this morning’s practice:

Some pre-game thoughts:

  • Brassard should play, which puts him six games short of 1000 in his career. That’s impressive, and though he’s not a world-beater anymore, he’s been respectable this season with the Sens.
  • Dorion confirmed that Hamonic and DeBrincat aren’t going anywhere at the trade deadline. Though you can never believe a GM in an interview, I think both of these are very clear. DeBrincat makes sense, because he was such a big acquisition, and the Sens still have another year of team control for a young player. Hamonic probably wouldn’t have garnered much anyway, and my bigger fear is that they’ll offer Hamonic a multi-year extension.
  • With Wednesday a full day of a rest, I’m hoping the Sens get the jump quickly in this game. The Hawks had a full off day to get here from Toronto, so it won’t be a huge advantage.
  • With 29 games left on the year, Claude Giroux is 28 points shy of 1000 for his career. Going pointless the last two games, I’m expecting him to get a couple tonight.
  • Meanwhile, Tim Stützle has 10 points in his past three games. He also played over 23 minutes the past two games. That’s.... good, I’m pretty sure. Maybe we should ask some Twitter experts to confirm though.
  • Erik Brännström was also over 22 minutes last game, his first time over 20 since November 23rd against Vegas (back when Thomas Chabot was out of the lineup). It looks like DJ Smith is trusting him even a little more than the game before. I’m, as always, cheering for the little guy to succeed.
  • While some teams have started resting their trade chips, the Hawks are still playing Kane, McCabe, and Murphy. Meanwhile, Jonathan Toews has missed seven games with “illness”, so who knows if he’ll be traded. They also come to town having lost five of six, including beatdowns at the hands of the Leafs, Habs, and Jets./


Team Stats

Game 60OttawaSenatorsSeattleKraken
Goals Against/GP3.1417th3.1116th
Shots Against/GP31.519th27.63rd
Powerplay %24.56th20.220th
Penalty Kill %83.15th74.626th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA)51.6210th52.265th
xGF % (5v5 SVA)51.8914th50.2119th

Player Stats

Game 64OttawaSenatorsSeattleKraken
GoalsTim Stützle31Jared McCann31
AssistsBrady Tkachuk40Jordan Eberle37
PointsBrady Tkachuk/Tim Stützle66Jordan Eberle51
ShotsBrady Tkachuk259Oliver Bjorkstrand161
Time on Ice/GPThomas Chabot25:31Adam Larsson23:54

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