The later of the two games on the NHL’s Wednesday night docket, the Ottawa Senators (1-4-1) look to avenge Monday’s 7-1 loss in a rematch against the Vancouver Canucks (3-5-0). The puck drops at 8:00 P.M. Eastern.
Vancouver is once again the favorite at (-157), while Ottawa is (+135).
Ottawa Senators Preview
The 7-1 loss on Monday was even worse than the scoreline would indicate. Ottawa looked completely overmatched through all three zones. They were slow on their breakouts and got pinched into their own zone, coughed the puck up in neutral ice, and despite putting 36 shots on Thatcher Demko, most of the shots were low-danger opportunities from bad angles and long distances.
Ottawa’s lone goal came on a shot from Thomas Chabot at the blue line that was tipped in front by Austin Watson, went off Demko’s mask and trickled in behind him. The Sens will need to establish more of a netfront presence Wednesday to pull the upset. Vancouver allows the second-most goals per game in the league this season, so getting quality shots, not just quantity of shots, is paramount.
Matt Murray let in all seven on Monday but is expected to get another opportunity Wednesday. He’s posted a 1-3-1 record with a 4.47 GAA and a .862 save percentage.
Third overall pick Tim Stützle has just one goal and no assists this season. He’s still impressed, even though it hasn’t manifested much on the scoresheet yet.
Vancouver Canucks Preview
The Canucks offense was lukewarm through the first seven games, so the scoring bonanza Monday was a much-needed outburst. Brandon Sutter led the way with a hat trick, the first of his career. Ten different skaters recorded a point, though go-to scorers Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, and J.T. Miller were all held off the stat sheet.
As bad as Vancouver’s team GAA has been, the Senators are allowing more goals per game (4.50) than any other NHL team. If there’s an opportunity for players like Pettersson and Miller, who have combined for one goal this year, to get their scoring touch back, this series with Ottawa is as good a chance as they’ll get. The Senators and Canucks also play each other Thursday night.
Braden Holtby is the expected starter Wednesday. Holtby has a 2-2-0 record this season with a 3.70 GAA and an .888 save percentage.
Both squads have struggled with special teams this season. Vancouver has a slight edge on the power play, scoring 12.9% of the time compared to Ottawa’s 12.0%. Both the Senators and Canucks have a 76.9% penalty kill. Ottawa has allowed six goals on 26 opportunities; Vancouver has given up nine on 39 chances. The Canucks have been shorthanded more than any other team this year.
The Pick Is In
The biggest factor in this game is Ottawa’s goaltending. Of goalies with at least three starts this season, Murray has the highest GAA and lowest save percentage. Vancouver averages 40 shots and 30 shots on goal per game. Based on Murray’s save percentage and Vancouver’s SOG average, the Canucks could expect to score four goals tonight.
Take the Canucks and the over 6.5 goals Wednesday night.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Vancouver Canucks (-157).