Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher showed off his temper during practice on Tuesday, and with good reason. Although the Senators were able to steal a win in San Jose on December 7, their recent four-game road trip was a disaster in the coach’s eyes. They allowed a total of 19 goals for an average of 4.75 per game, had a penalty kill success rate of only 61.1% and a Corsi percentage of 45.7%, all numbers that the coach is none too pleased with. The results were completely against Boucher’s coaching philosophy in which he preaches strong structural defence and playing all three zones with five-man units.
Their challenge won’t be any easier tonight, as the San Jose Sharks are coming to Ottawa to exact revenge on a 4-2 loss they felt was undeserved. That last meeting had the Sharks out-shooting the Senators 37-17 while dominating the possession rating with a 66.25 Corsi percentage. The Senators were able to take advantage of the Sharks’ scoring struggles that they have had trouble with all season long. The Sharks are coming off a 3-2 comeback shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs the night before, so the Senators will try to take advantage of any potential fatigue San Jose might have.
Ottawa Senators vs. San Jose Sharks
Canadian Tire Centre – 7 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – Sportsnet, CSN-CA
2016-17 Season Series:
December 7 – Ottawa won 4-2
Ottawa Senators – 16-11-2 – 34 Points
Home Record: 9-5-2
Hot Players: Erik Karlsson
Key Absences: Craig Anderson (personal), Fredrik Claesson (hip), Clarke MacArthur (concussion) and Mark Borowiecki (suspension)
Mike Hoffman – Derick Brassard – Mark Stone
Ryan Dzingel – Kyle Turris – Bobby Ryan
Zack Smith – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Tom Pyatt
Chris Kelly – Curtis Lazar – Chris Neil
Marc Methot – Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Ceci
Ben Harpur – Chris Wideman
San Jose Sharks – 17-11-1 – 35 Points
Road Record: 7-7-1
Hot Players: Brent Burns, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski
Key Absences: Tomas Hertl (knee)
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Kevin Labanc – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
1) The Senators were able to beat the Sharks in San Jose, one of the toughest places in the league to play in, just over a week ago. Although they were outplayed in most aspects, they were able to get timely scoring and strong goaltending at important moments to walk away with the two points. The Sharks will be hungry for revenge, but Ottawa knows that they have what it takes to match up against the visitors.
2) With Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher showing his frustration in practice yesterday after coming home from the road trip, we should expect the Senators to come out strong in the first period. Good first periods have been difficult to come by for Ottawa, as they rank 19th in goals for and 26th in goals against this season during the opening frame. He hopes that his players understood the message, because there won’t be many days of practice available to them for the next week and a bit before the Christmas break.
— CBC Ottawa (@CBCOttawa) December 14, 2016
3) Curtis Lazar will be returning after missing a few games due to injury. He will begin as centre for the bottom forward line but is likely to move up the lineup during the game, especially if other forwards don’t show that they’ve received the coach’s message.
4) Goaltender Mike Condon has struggled a little bit in the last two games, including being pulled after the first period during the game against the Anaheim Ducks. It looks like he will be back in net to start tonight’s game, and he will be looking to bounce back against a team that is struggling offensively.
5) The Sharks have not been at their best on the road, merely playing at .500 comparatively to winning 10 out of 14 games at home. Considering that the Senators are one of the teams that managed to win in San Jose this season, with their strong home record, the players should feel confident that they could have the upper hand tonight.
Returning home should give the Senators a boost of energy and they hope that they were properly able to analyse their road trip during practice yesterday. If they can return to their sound defensive game plan and shut down San Jose’s top players, there have a good chance of bouncing back from their difficult road trip.