Game 68 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators vs Colorado Avalanche

The Sens are back in Ottawa, which is where they play their best hockey.

Part of the struggle with watching a hockey team go from having no expectations to having playoff aspirations is dealing with the highs and lows synonymous with the sport.

The Ottawa Senators followed up a five-game winning streak by losing four of their next five — in other words, they’re 6-4-0 in their last 10 games. The reason I’ve chosen to look at things this way is to not overreact to a more minor stretch of games, and keep an objective view of how the team has been playing during the last several weeks.

It’s true that many of their recent losses have come to weaker opponents, and the Colorado Avalanche are most certainly not in that category. But looking at Ottawa’s record at home (19-12-2 compared to 14-18-2 on the road), just about any game in the nation’s capital is winnable.

With Mathieu Joseph out for the next few weeks, Ridly Greig has been recalled from Belleville for his second NHL stint. He has tallied a goal and three assists in eleven NHL games to start his career. Thomas Chabot will be a game-time decision.

Here’s how the Sens lined up in practice this morning:

Game Notes:

  • With a 38-22-6 record, the Colorado Avalanche sit third in the Central Division and are one of the few teams that have had worse injury luck than Ottawa this season, spending time without Nathan MacKinnon and other key players, and currently missing captain Gabriel Landeskog. They also played last night, beating Toronto 2-1 in a shootout, which doesn’t hurt Ottawa’s chances here.
  • The Sens’ inability to win games on the road has a lot to do with the makeup of their forward corps. As it currently stands, they can put together a legitimate top line and an adequate fourth line, but you’re left with a middle six that would be envied only by the likes of Arizona, Anaheim, and Columbus. At home, D.J. Smith is free to play Tim Stützle and Brady Tkachuk against whichever opposing line he chooses, but without that freedom on the road, opposing coaches are eying the rest of his lineup like a glazed ham.
  • Speaking of which, Alex DeBrincat and Drake Batherson have two points each in the last five games, while Shane Pinto has just one. Our second line for most of the season, ladies and gentlemen! Outscored by Dylan Gambrell, Patrick Brown, and Joseph in fewer combined games recently. Good for the bottom-six forwards, though!
  • Tonight’s game is a 7:00 pm EST start, available on RDS2, TSN5, and TSN 1200./


Player Stats

Game 68OttawaSenatorsColoradoAvalanche
GoalsTim Stutzle34Mikko Rantanen44
AssistsBrady Tkachuk40Nathan MacKinnon53
PointsTim Stutzle73Nathan MacKinnon82
ShotsBrady Tkachuk272Nathan MacKinnon286
Time on Ice/GPThomas Chabot25:18Cale Makar26:41

Team Stats

Game 68OttawaSenatorsColoradoAvalanche
Goals Against/GP3.2520th2.779th
Shots Against/GP31.721st31.317th
Powerplay %23.39th24.26th
Penalty Kill %82.85th79.318th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA)50.6318th52.845th
xGF % (5v5 SVA)50.7216th51.8614th

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