Game 53 Preview: Montreal Canadiens @ Ottawa Senators

The Sens are playing for pride

The Ottawa Senators may not be playing for much these last few games in terms of the standings, but for some of their younger players it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Contrast tonight’s projected line-up with the skaters that were deployed for the first game of the season and you can hardly call it the same team. Only one (!) defenseman, Nikita Zaitsev, is the same while fully four of the twelve forwards are different. If you’re looking for a reason to watch the last few games of a lost season, a look at the future of the future of the franchise is as good as any.

Meanwhile, the future is now for the Montreal Canadiens; they’re comfortably in a play-off position, in search of a fourth consecutive win, and could even potentially avoid a first-round matchup with the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs should they make hay in their remaining few games. The future is also now in the sense that young phenom Cole Caufield has arrived and is making an immediate impact with two overtime goals in the last week alone. The Habs are likely to be a highly motivated group.

Here’s how we expect DJ Smith to have the Sens lining up this evening:

Tkachuk - Norris - Batherson
Formenton - White - Paul
Stutzle - Pinto - C. Brown
Dzingel - Tierney - Dadonov

Mete - Zaitsev
Brännström - Zub
Alsing - Bernard-Docker


Game Notes:

  • Olle Alsing makes his NHL debut tonight for Ottawa. The twenty-five year old has a lot of success in Europe but remains something of a question mark. Expect his pairing with Jacob Bernard-Docker to be used sparingly and in very sheltered situations.
  • DJ Smith today confirmed that Thomas Chabot and Josh Brown are both done for the season. Chabot’s injury remains a mystery but Brown suffered a broken foot in Monday’s win over the Winnipeg Jets.
  • The Sens, perhaps unsurprisingly, struggled to generate consistent offense after their star defender when down last game; it will be interesting to see how much of the slack Mete and Brännström can pick up if they are given licensed to take a couple more chances.
  • Caufield is the talk of the town in Montreal right now, and rightfully so, but don’t sleep on Nick Suzuki. The 21 year-old has notched 37 points in 51 games and has looked every bit the star prospect the Habs hoped they were getting when they traded Max Pacioretty.
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