Game 79 Hub: Ottawa Senators @ Tampa Bay Lightning

Not to shock you, but there's just four games until the Sens bolt for the summer

Game 79 Hub: Ottawa Senators @ Tampa Bay Lightning
Photo by ryan haft / Unsplash

There's just four games left in the most disappointing Sens season in... over a decade, for sure. This team was supposed to be competing for a playoff spot, and instead is double-digits out of a playoff spot. This is made even worse by the fact that the playoffs cutoff looks to be right around 90 points in the East, so the Sens were weak in a weak year. We all know this, but there’s also not much else to say.

The Sens enter tonight’s matchup after failing to score a goal against the Panthers for the third time in four tries this season. They take on a Lightning team against whom they actually lead the season series 2-1. However, this Lightning team is looking more like the Bolts of old than they did earlier in the season. Their 7-2-1 in their past 10 games is better than anyone in the league except the Rangers and Dallas. Steven Stamkos has 9 goals in his past 5 games; Nikita Kucherov has 13 points in the same span. Anthony Duclair has 12 points in 14 games since joining them at the trade deadline.

The Lightning are essentially locked into the first Wild Card spot: they can't be caught by any of the mediocrity of the Metropolitan, and a single Lightning loss or Leafs win in their final four games means they can't move up to third in the division. In this situation, you might expect a team to sit their stars. For the Lightning though, Nikita Kucherov is two points up on Nathan MacKinnon for the NHL points lead with one game in hand on the Avalanche. They're probably going to give him the best chance possible to snag his second Art Ross (no relation) Trophy, and have an outside chance at winning the Hart Trophy. Tampa seems to be peaking at the right time of year.

Anton Forsberg gets the start, and Tim Stützle is still out. Here were the lines from last game, projected again for tonight (other than the goalies, obviously):

Game Notes:

  • Nick Paul already has career highs in goals (20) and assists (23) this season. It's nice to see how well he fits in with Tampa. I still maintain that Mathieu Joseph's speed game makes him a better fit with the younger Sens, but that doesn't mean I wanted to see Paul do poorly in Tampa.
  • Dominik Kubalik seems to have played his last game as a Senator. I don't feel that bad for him, considering he seemed to decide in about December that he was done putting in any effort to be here, but it's still sad to see how a guy who was supposed to score 20-25 only manage 11 goals (and 4 assists) on a team where he should not have struggled to find ice time.
  • Though I think MacKinnon takes the Hart because Colorado's had a much better season than Tampa (and Connor McDavid sitting out the last few games to nurse an injury pretty much ends his chances), I think there's something to be said that MacKinnon has a 35-point lead over his closest teammate, while Kucherov has a 53-point lead. Kucherov is doing this with minimal support, in a down year from his team and Andrei Vasilveskiy struggling to regain form after a start-of-year injury. If Kucherov is "just" a 100-point player, his team is likely fighting for their playoff lives right now.
  • If Tim Stützle is done for the year, finishing the year with 70 points in 75 games is still very respectable. We saw a lot of the magic still this season, and both he and Tkachuk were charged with getting their linemates going rather than using each other to dunk on defences. I do think these two will hit a point where they're like Toews/Kane or McDavid/Draisaitl, where they elevate their respective lines but are paired together in the final 5 minutes when the team needs a goal.
  • Super impressive that Tampa has the top powerplay in the NHL considering we're in the McDavid Oilers era.
  • Boko Imama still has a chance to get his first NHL assist. Let's see it happen.

Team Stats:

Team Stats
Game 79Ottawa SenatorsTampa Bay Lightning
Goals Against/GP3.4628th3.2422nd
Shots Against/GP29.612th29.410th
Powerplay %17.824th29.71st
Penalty Kill %74.629th82.95th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA)49.7219th50.8815th
xGF % (5v5 SVA)49.0322nd49.1121st

Player Stats:

Player Stats
Game 79Ottawa SenatorsTampa Bay Lightning
GoalsBrady Tkachuk34Brayden Point44
AssistsTim Stützle52Nikita Kucherov96
PointsTim Stützle70Nikita Kucherov139
ShotsBrady Tkachuk339Nikita Kucherov298
Time on Ice/GPThomas Chabot23:21Victor Hedman24:48

Note: all stats from, except Corsi and xGF from Natural Stat Trick.

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