Winter is here.
The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (11-15-4) versus the Ottawa Senators (15-16-4). SBN Blog: Silver Seven Sens
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Ottawa Senators are coming off a few days of rest after beating the Nashville Predators in overtime on the 17th of December. Hopefully the Devils are not too tired after last night’s game when they play tonight.
Holy Defense: The Senators are one of the few teams that have been arguably worse than the Devils in their own end this year. Their best goaltender, Craig Anderson, has a .907 save percentage and a 3.49 goals against average. The Senators have given up 1324 shots in 35 games, versus the average of 1091. When a team gives up nearly 40 shots per game, it’s hard to imagine them winning many games.
Matt Duchene: The top center for the Senators had been on the injured reserve for a lower body injury - but he was recently activated and should be playing against the team tonight. In 29 games, he has 12 goals and 22 assists with a 19.4% shooting percentage. That should make the game more of an adventure tonight.
A Tale of Two Teams: The Senators are split into two distinct categories: players who belong in the NHL, and the players who don’t. The CF% on the team range from 33.3 (Drake Batherson - 17 games) to 52.2 (Mark Stone - 35 games). There are seven players who have played more than 15 games who have a CF% under 40.
The Plan For Tonight: Shut down their top three forwards, don’t take dumb penalties, and the rest of the Senators should be easy for Devils’ lower lines to deal with. The Devils need to forecheck with pressure tonight, because the Senators will crack under pressure. Expect plenty of defensive breakdowns on both ends of the ice, as these teams tend to be sloppy in their own defensive zones.
The Experiment of Last Night: The line experiments of John Hynes were...imperfect, to say the least. Jesper Bratt, who has been playing well, should not be getting 10 minutes of even strength ice time in a game. I expect Bratt to be reunited with Pavel Zacha tonight, as Hall will probably be back with Hischier, and Quenneville with Zajac. At least - that’s what I hope, given their respective past chemistries. This is all assuming Marcus Johansson isn’t playing tonight.
Your Take: What are your thoughts on tonight’s game? Do you think the Devils will win? How do you want to see the lines and pairings shake out? Will one of the defensemen who played last night sit tonight? Should someone? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.