Game 9 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators @ Tampa Bay Lightning

The Ottawa Senators will wrap up their trip to Florida tonight with another tough division battle against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After what we can all agree is a performance to forget on Saturday, the Senators are back in action against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Tampa Bay currently sits just one win ahead of Ottawa, with a 5-4-0 record through nine contests. The Senators, 4-4-0, will be looking to even things up and stay in the conversation in a very heated Atlantic Division.

According to the morning skate, it looks like DJ Smith has a few new ideas heading into tonight’s game.

Smith alluded to Shane Pinto eyeing more minutes and he’ll be moving forward with that idea as the red hot rookie will be centring Ottawa’s second line. The other notable change will see Erik Brännström start the game on the top pair beside Thomas Chabot. While that’s welcomed news, it does mean that the third pairing will feature both Nick Holden and Nikita Zaitsev; a situation Tampa Bay Head Coach Jon Cooper will almost certainly look to exploit with last change.

Game Notes:

  • The Sens enter tonight after an abysmal performance against the Panthers which saw them allow Florida to throw more than 50 pucks on net. Anton Forsberg will get the start again tonight, which is well deserved considering he allowed four goals but still managed a sterling 0.930 SV% against the Panthers, given the heavy workload.
  • With his promotion to the second line, it’s likely that we’ll see Shane Pinto receiving more favourable, offensive zone starts tonight with Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux on his wings. Pinto has six goals in his last seven games while playing modest minutes. All eyes will be on the Calder Trophy hopeful as his role officially expands tonight.,
  • Since 2020, Erik Brännström and Thomas Chabot have played just over 150 minutes together at even strength. In this ice time, they’ve rocked a 52.09 CF%, creating 162 chances while allowing just 149. Given the rosters the Senators have had since 2020, it’s relatively impressive that these two have managed to contribute positive numbers.
  • With Pinto’s elevation, Mark Kastelic will be the new feature centre on the third line between Mathieu Joseph and Tyler Motte. Despite a really strong preseason showing, the original third line which included Pinto has been underwhelming. Will Kastelic’s size and physical presence be helpful? Will the loss of Pinto’s puck movement hurt? We’ll see how things play tonight.
  • Tampa Bay’s Norris winning defenseman, Victor Hedman, is listed as a game time decision for the club. While you never hope for a player to be injured, it would help the Sens a great deal if he were unavailable this evening./

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