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In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Senators region: TSN5 (English), RDS (French)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
The city of Vancouver is rightly renowned for its cuisine, and the Montreal Canadiens certainly feasted during their visit two weeks ago. Apparently, the Habs made quite an impression while out west, as Vancouver was so kind as to offer up a second helping after the Montrealers had returned home. Hopefully, after gorging themselves thoroughly on the best that Vancouver had to offer, the Habs will still have room for dessert.
Tale of the Tape
|54.4% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||49.1% (17th)|
|4.40 (1st)||Goals per game||2.40 (26th)|
|2.60 (10th)||Goals against per game||4.80 (31st)|
|23.7% (14th)||PP%||13.6% (24th)|
|79.5% (15th)||PK%||70.0% (27th)|
While the Canadiens were filling up on the Canucks, the rest of Canada was engaged in similar gluttony at the expense of Montreal’s next opponent.
The Ottawa Senators had such high hopes coming into the season, to the point where owner Eugene Melnyk opened up his pocketbook and added $25.5 million to the payroll. Matt Murray and Evgenii Dadonov represent just two of the big names brought in from elsewhere to support an existing core built around Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot. The Senators were further buoyed by the draft, picking up Tim Stützle and Jake Sanderson.
Suddenly, Ottawa looked like a team on the rise, a team that could, at the very least, play the spoiler role this season. When they defeated the anointed ones in the first game of the year, it felt like a fulfillment of prophecy.
Alas, reality has a nasty habit of rearing her head. After that initial taste, the Senators have not since sipped from the font of victory, and the streak reached nine consecutive defeats on Tuesday night with a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Fortunately, Ottawa fans can take solace in a sort of familiarity: this isn’t the first thing associated with the franchise that seemed good on paper but fell apart upon execution.
Now, not even a month since the start of the season, the question is not whether the Senators will break hearts, but rather whether they will break records.
It's early, but could the Ottawa Senators be as bad as the 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers? That team finished dead last in the NHL in a 44- game season, 4-36-4.— Steven Sandor (@stevensandor) February 3, 2021
If it hasn’t been made clear, the Ottawa Senators have not been a good hockey team so far this year. The team has been outscored 32-16 at five-on-five, their special teams are subpar, and the numbers put up by Murray and backup Marcus Högberg would be considered replacement level in the mid-1980s. Up front, head coach D.J. Smith is heavily reliant on Tkachuk and Toronto-surplus Connor Brown to lead the charge while the likes of Dadonov and Stützle are still finding their legs. Further complicating matters are reports that offseason acquisition Derek Stepan is not happy with Smith. That said, the forward corps has done a fairly decent job of generating offence.
The Senators’ problems on the blue line are somewhat more profound, as the recently returned Chabot shepherds the finest collection of pylons this side of Rue St. Denis. Chabot’s primary partner on the first pairing has been Nikita Zaitsev, while the remaining spots have been filled by the likes of Erik Gudbranson, Braydon Coburn, KHL-arrival Artyom Zub, and old friend Mikey Reilly. In response to this tailspin, Pierre Dorion has placed Coburn on waivers and called up Erik Brännström, who was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the return for Mark Stone. The highly touted Brännström has a good chance of making his debut against the Canadiens, although there are reports that he, too, is not in coach Smith’s good books.
That said, the Canadiens of years-past have been vulnerable to “trap games” where they play down to their opponent. It is fortunate though that the Senators have assumed the pestilential mentality of their talisman Tkachuk and head coach Smith. A passive team can lull a stronger team to sleep, but a yappy small dog is more likely to elicit an appropriate response from their superior opposition.
A good meal is not complete without an appropriate dessert, digestif, or apéritif. The Canadiens, although full and content, would do well to not fall asleep before the final course.