Week Ahead: XVII - January 21st to 27th
Sens face the Wild, Blues, and Bruins in a week that will help GM Pierre Dorion determine who’s staying and who’s going.
TSN5, RDS, FS-N
Prev game : Lightning, Saturday, January 20th (5-2 W)
Cold : Chris Stewart - 0P in last 7 games; Zach Parise - 2P (1G, 1A) in last 8 games
Injured : Nino Niederreiter (IR)
The Senators start their two-game road trip in Minnesota against a Wild team that would be in a playoff spot in the East, but is on the outside looking in. Minnesota’s 55 points have them tied with the Avalanche (who have won nine in a row) for the last wild card spot; there are currently nine Western Conference teams within five points of them.
Bruce Boudreau’s offence is usually high-flying, but his squad hasn’t been generating much in the way of high-danger opportunities this season. They haven’t been giving anything up, either, and their special teams [PP, PK] both look good from a shot location standpoint. A defensive core of Suter, Brodin, Spurgeon have been solid for many years now, and they’ve been aided by the emergence of Matt Dumba as a bonafide top-four defender. These four eat up a bulk of the minutes, making the Wild a tricky team to matchup against if you’re Guy Boucher because their third-pair is rarely on.
The Wild’s weakness, like many teams, is their depth. They’ve been in the negatives in terms of shot metrics for the entire year, and there’s a pretty big gap between their T6F/T4D and the rest of the lineup. The Sens can breathe a minor sigh of relief that top forward Nino Niederreiter won’t be in the lineup — El Niño has been the team’s best shot generator AND best shot suppressing forward, all while putting up ~0.50 points-per-game.
TSN5, RDS2, FS-MW
Prev game : Coyotes, Saturday, January 20th (5-2 L)
Cold : Magnus Paajarvi - 0P in last 10 games
Injured : Jaden Schwartz (IR), Robby Fabbri (IR), Zach Sanford (IR)
The Senators face the Blues — a team that beat them just last week — in a back-to-back situation on the road. To make matters worse: the Blues got schooled by the Coyotes (!!!!) on Saturday and are going to look to take out their frustration on Ottawa.
It’s hard for last week’s game to have gone worse. Anderson let in four goals (again), Ottawa had no player put up positive shot metrics, and the grouping of Hoffman/Duchene/Ryan/Karlsson were on the ice for three of Blues four goals. Shot location wise, the Sens gave up their usual attempts from the point, but also a fair amount to the left of Anderson that will need to be cleaned up. Given the team’s injuries, Fredrik Claesson should draw back into the lineup and will look to help a struggling Sens defensive corps protect the front of his net.
Despite missing a top-line player in Jaden Schwartz and having an ineffective fourth line, the Blues are very deserving of their current standings position and will be a tough test...again.
TSN5, RDS2, NESN
Prev game : Devils, Tuesday, January 23rd
Cold : -
Injured : Kevan Miller (day-to-day)
In Ottawa’s last two games against Boston, they’ve been outscored by a tune of 10-1. Since then, the dangerous Bergeron line has only gotten better, with Patrice putting up two hat-tricks in the month of January. One of the top teams in the league by every metric, the Bruins are the favourites to finish second in the Atlantic, and are doing it by getting valuable contributions from almost every player in their lineup.
The Bruins haven’t had a deep playoff run in a while — they’ve been directly or unintentionally ousted by the Sens a couple of times — but have re-tooled and serve as a potential model for the Senators to follow. Although they’re led by bonafide first-liners in Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand, they have six (!) rookies playing regular minutes in their lineup. Players like Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk complement the emergent Charlie McAvoy; Boston’s veterans — Chara (~18 minutes/night), Miller (~ 17 minutes), Backes (~15 minutes), Nash (~14 minutes) — are quality and are often put into supporting roles.
Entering the week 14 points out of a playoff spot, a poor week could have the team as far as 20 points out.