Whichever team loses tonight might as well call it a season.
The Ottawa Senators have been beaten by the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks as of late, by a combined 10-2 score. That doesn’t inspire much confidence that they’ll win many more games down the stretch, with a slew of Cup contenders waiting in the wings.
Then you’ve got the Calgary Flames, who like the Sens, recently wasted an excellent opportunity to gain ground in the playoff race — losing 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks, a team that, intentionally or not, has been flawlessly built for the purpose of drafting one Connor Bedard this June.
In spite of the circus acts these two clubs have put on recently, one of them is winning tonight’s game, and a win can go a long way toward swinging momentum in the home stretch of a season.
Expect Kevin Mandolese to start in goal for Ottawa tonight, facing Jacob Markstrom for the Flames.
- Erik Brännström (along with Julien Gauthier and Parker Kelly) will draw back in tonight after being healthy-scratched in three of the last five games for coming up short compared to the other defensemen. He’s fresh, and I’d expect him to be pretty motivated like he knows he’s back in the doghouse tomorrow unless he scores a hat trick or something. In all seriousness, he’s been fantastic in sheltered third-pair minutes, has occasionally stepped into a bigger role to fill in for injuries, and is certainly a reason the Sens have outplayed teams throughout the season.
- Not only are the Sens playing the second half of a back-to-back, but teams like Calgary that love running up the shot clock thrive in these situations. Despite being let down by the finishing and goaltending (or lack thereof), many of their wins have seen them overwhelm the opponent by pinning them in their own zone. It’s not going to be a pretty sight if Ottawa’s as sloppy with their breakouts as they were yesterday.
- Both teams are fairly even in terms of production, with Calgary having the better overall depth, and Ottawa having their five top forwards (Tkachuk, Stützle, Giroux, DeBrincat, and Batherson) ahead of Tyler Toffoli, Calgary’s top scorer, in points. Whereas in the crease, you’d think Mandolese in his third NHL game would be the underdog, but you’d be wrong. Between Markstrom (.893) and Daniel Vladar (.895), it’s going to be a rough ride on any given night.
- Winning 13 of the last 19 games has disguised some of the big issues with the team since the beginning — at least, since the Josh Norris injury anyway. The Alex DeBrincat - Shane Pinto - Drake Batherson line has been underwhelming compared to what an NHL team’s second line should look like, and they’re also running two fourth lines in their bottom six. Jakob Chychrun has been solid and a very necessary addition, but he can only help out the forwards so much.
- It’s a 9:00 PM EST start tonight (with an even shorter wait time due to losing an hour!!!) and the game is available on TSN5 and RDS, as well as TSN 1200./
|Penalty Kill %||83.2||3rd||81.3||12th|
|Corsi % (5v5 SVA)||51.15||15th||57.15||2nd|
|xGF % (5v5 SVA)||51.41||15th||55.06||3rd|
|Goals||Tim Stutzle||31||Tyler Toffoli||26|
|Assists||Brady Tkachuk||40||Elias Lindholm||35|
|Points||Tim Stutzle||70||Tyler Toffoli||55|
|Shots||Brady Tkachuk||266||Nazem Kadri||220|
|Time on Ice/GP||Thomas Chabot||25:27||Rasmus Andersson||24:17|