The Ottawa Senators are a rebuilding team. At the trade deadline, the team said goodbye to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Dylan DeMelo, Tyler Ennis, and Vladislav Namestnikov to stock up on draft picks to help turn the team around next season. For now, however, the team has the third-fewest points in the NHL. It’s been a tough road. [See the site’s post on the Senators’ fired CEO.]
That said, until the Senators played and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-3, they had won two games in a row. Head coach D.J. Smith has the team playing tough hockey, but as it stands now the team simply doesn’t have the horses to win consistently.
As the team comes home to play the New York Islanders and former teammate Pageau, I want to help Senators’ fans keep up-to-date with what’s happening with the team.
Item One: Brady Tkachuk Finally Scores a Goal
Brady Tkachuk broke a personal goal-scoring drought when he scored a goal in the 7-3 loss to the Penguins. He had not scored in his last seven games, and the goal against the Penguins was a bit too little and a bit too late. Tkachuk now has 19 goals in 67 games, and he’s starting to shoot more pucks at the net. He’s registered 250 shots already.
Item Two: Colin White Scores Two Assists
The 23-year-old Colin White had missed the last three games with an “upper-body” injury but scored two assists against the Penguins. He hasn’t been his usual self this season and has only six goals and 19 points in 57 games this season. I’m looking for him to become stronger when the Senators develop more talent around him. He’s a good young player and I’d be surprised if he didn’t grow further.
Item Three: Craig Anderson Was Hammered by the Penguins
After a run of successful games, veteran goalie Craig Anderson then lost three straight starts. He now has a 9-16-2 record with a goals-against-average of 3.35 GAA and a .897 save percentage. The seven goals he allowed against the Penguins were a season-high (or is it low) for the veteran goalie.
Senators’ Injury Reports
Item Four: Artem Anisimov Won’t Come Back Against the Islanders
Arten Anisimov, who’s suffering an upper-body injury, won’t play in Thursday’s game against the Islanders. He sustained the injury during the loss to the Penguins and will miss at least one game. It would seem likely that Chris Tierney would replace Anisimov on the Senators’ first line. Anisimov has only 20 points in 48 games, but 15 of those points are goals.
Item Five: Erik Brannstrom Will Be Out for More Than a Month
Erik Brannstrom will likely miss a significant number of games over the next 4-to-6 weeks. I haven’t heard what his injury is, but it must be serious because he hasn’t played since January 2 when he suited up against the Florida Panthers. In 31 games, the Senators’ defenseman has scored four assists and has averaged just under 15 minutes of ice time per game. Given that timeline, Brannstrom won’t likely play again in this NHL this season.
Item Six: Anders Nilsson Won’t Play During the Upcoming Road Trip (or more)
Anders Nilsson, who’s under concussion protocol, won’t play in the Senators forthcoming five-game road trip and likely won’t return to action during the 2019-20 season. Right now, the 29-year-old Swede has a record of 9-9-2, a goals-against-average of 3.18, and a .908 save percentage in 20 games.
Senators’ Prospect Report
Item Seven: Johnny Gruden Is Having a Strong First Season in the OHL
Johnny Gruden scored a goal and an assist when the Senators’ OHL London Knights affiliate beat the Kitchener Rangers 6-2 on Tuesday. During his one season at Miami University, Gruden scored three goals and 15 points in 38 games; however, he’s done far better in the OHL. Currently, he’s scored 30 goals and 36 assists (for 66 points in 58 games).
That Knights’ roster has some great prospects. These include three former first-round draft picks – Liam Foudy (63 points this season), Connor McMichael (97 points this season), and Ryan Merkley (75 points this season). However, Gruden has been one of the team’s leaders (and, sadly for the Senators, the only one of the players listed who signed with the organization). Because he’s already signed to an entry-level contract with the Senators, he’ll probably spend next season with the AHL’s Belleville Senators.
What’s Next with the Senators?
The Islanders were relieved to learn late Tuesday night that the worst news of the evening was the team’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Things could have been worse because defenseman Johnny Boychuk was accidentally hit in the face by the skate of Montreal left winger Artturi Lehkonen while the two battled in the crease. Boychuk needed 90 stitches to close the cut.
The Islanders hope to leverage a win against the Senators as a way to reassert their team back into the playoff picture. However, the Senators would do well to win and help push the Islanders out of that same picture. Should the Islanders miss the playoffs and go into the draft lottery, the Senators might move up spaces with the draft pick they got for Pageau. It might be a great draft year for the team.
Both teams suffered four-goal losses in their last games, when the Islanders lost to the Montreal Canadiens, 6-2 at home and, as noted, the Senators lost 7-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Someone will be happier after the game.
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