Gameday preview: Senators at Blue Jackets

After their fifth consecutive loss on Sunday, I’m sure no one was more eager to board yesterday’s flight to Columbus, Ohio than Marc Methot.

Ottawa Senators (4-6-4)
@
Columbus Blue Jackets (5-8-0)

Nationwide Arena, 7:00pm EST

Storylines to watch…

After their fifth consecutive loss on Sunday, I’m sure no one was more eager to board yesterday’s flight to Columbus, Ohio than Marc Methot.

Tonight’s game will mark Methot’s first appearance at the Nationwide Arena since being involved in the July 1, 2012 trade that sent Nick Foligno to the Jackets.

One Sens player who did not board the flight was Craig Anderson. Well I suppose Nikita Filatov still technically qualifies as Sens property, but Filly “don’t do rebounds” and he don’t do returns to Columbus either. (As an aside, Filatov has 7 goals and 12 points in 18 games for the KHL’s Ufa Salvat Yulayev.)

Anderson will remain in Ottawa to receive treatment for what’s being described as a ‘stiff neck’. The injury was the result of a violent goalmouth collision with Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichuskin that occurred in the latter stages of Sunday’s game.

As horrific was seeing Anderson lay motionless and eventually get stretchered off the ice, there’s hope that he won’t be out for long. He’s formally listed as ‘day-to-day’, but there’s currently no timetable for his return. For what it’s worth, Nathan Lawson has been recalled to serve as Robin Lehner’s backup in the interim.

It’s always difficult for fans to see their number one starter go down to injury, but if there’s any silver lining here, it’s that Robin Lehner’s been exceptional when he has played.

Some fans were clamouring for more Lehner anyway. Thanks to Anderson’s numbers predictably regressing and coinciding with Ottawa’s struggles, some fans have wanted to get an extended look at what Lehner could do to help turn things around. Well, for better or worse, those fans will now get that chance.

Ottawa Line Combinations From Yesterday’s Practice:

MacArthur-Turris-Ryan
Greening-Spezza-Zibanejad
Michalek-Smith-Neil
Kassian-Grant-Conacher

Cowen-Karlsson
Borowiecki-Methot
Phillips-Gryba
Wiercioch-Corvo (expected pairing to sit out tonight)

Interesting Stats:

The graphic above comes courtesy of ExtraSkater.com and it depicts Sunday’s shot attempts by the Stars and Senators.

From the approximate halfway mark of the first period to the point in time when Chris Neil had finished serving his four minute minor for high-sticking Brenden Dillon at around the 7:00 minute mark of the second period, the Stars were dominating the Senators possession-wise. They were outshooting, outchancing and outscoring Ottawa. (Note: After one period, the Senators were 19-9; good enough to be on pace to allow 57 shots on goal.)

But, Ottawa seemed to build momentum off of that kill – with Erik Karlsson ultimately scoring and getting Ottawa on the board shortly thereafter. Whether by luck or design, Ottawa managed to limit the number of shots (18) over the course of the second and third periods. In consequence, fans desperately seeking some positive affirmation will definitely be monitoring tonight’s shot totals.

Considering Columbus have lost three straight games and only mustered 19 shots against the Penguins on Saturday, the Blue Jackets seem like a good candidate for some shot suppression.

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