Game 8 Hub: Ottawa Senators @ Vancouver Canucks

Can the Sens break out of their funk?

Folks, I hate to say it but the Ottawa Senators are officially going through it right now. After opening the season with a promising triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Sens have gone nearly two full weeks without a victory. The last three defeats have been particularly tough: 6-3, 7-1, and 5-1 setbacks first to the Winnipeg Jets, and then to the Vancouver Canucks twice (including last night). After the first Vancouver game, DJ Smith sounded about as exasperated with the team as he has been at any point during his tenure with the organization. His comments following last night’s tilt were a bit less acrimonious, but you can tell that frustration has already set in:

The 1-5-1 start is putting a real damper on what management, and many fans, had hoped would be a year of progress. Is it too late to salvage this season? Not at all! But the first seven games of this season should at the very least serve as a reminder that it is exceptionally difficult to win in the NHL.

Here’s my guess at the line-up based on how DJ Smith lined ‘em up last night. We know Christian Wolanin exited the game with an injury, so one of Josh Brown or Artem Zub will likely draw in. Also, with Marcus Högberg getting the start last night I would expect Matt Murray to be between the pipes this evening. We’ll update this closer to game time once we get confirmation of who’s in and who’s out.

Tkachuk - Norris - Batherson
Stützle - Tierney - C. Brown
Paul - White - Dadonov
Paquette - Stepan - Watson

Chabot - Gudbranson
Reilly - Zaitsev
J. Brown - Coburn

Murray (starter?)

Puck drop is 10 pm EST tonight, and you can catch the game on TSN5 or on TSN1200 radio.

Game Notes:

  • Smith’s done a lot of line juggling with the forwards, except when it comes to his top line. The Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, and Brady Tkachuk trio have been by far the team’s best at 5v5; the chances have been there, and more goals will come. Credit to Smith for sticking with what’s working.
  • After being a healthy scratch for the last two games, Colin White drew into last night’s tilt and for my money was one of the team’s better forwards. It looks like he’s going to be in a battle for ice time all year but he can be effective when he’s moving his feet like he was yesterday.
  • While the skaters haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory this year, the tandem of Murray and Högberg have the 56th and 59th ranked SV% out of the 60 goalies that have played games so far this year. If the Sens are going to turn this ship around, they need better play from their goalies.
  • The Sens are getting killed by the Canucks’ depth players. Tyler Motte, he of the career-high nine goals in a season, has three goals in two games. Brandon Sutter scored his first career hat-trick on Monday after 735 games in the league. When it rains, it pours I suppose/

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