Nashville Predators vs Ottawa Senators Preview: Only Way Out Is Through

I thought about calling this recap “Stand Pat vs the Draft Picks” but changed my mind.

The trade deadline has come and gone with not much happening for the Nashville Predators, who traded a third-pairing defender and a late-round draft pick two years from this June for a worse, yet larger, third-pairing defender. The Ottawa Senators, in contrast, were extremely busy—so busy that they weren’t able to ice a full roster at the start of last night’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In fairness, they did have warm bodies, they just didn’t have warm bodies in the right city with NHL gear.

Gary, we need to talk about scheduling games for a few hours after the trade deadline.

The Ottawa Senators

The Sens sold, sold, sold today. Jean-Gabriel Pageau headed to the Islanders, Tyler Ennis to the Oilers, and Vladislav Namestnikov to the Avalanche. They did acquire an NHL piece, Matthew Peca from the Canadiens/the AHL Laval Rocket, and called a couple of the Baby Sens up. At least, I think they called a couple of the Baby Sens up; I’m not sure what else was going on with the unexpected delays causing them to start the game with only ten forwards. I’m sorry. It was really kind of a mess.

Given all that, trying to project what the Sens will look like tonight is going to be close to impossible. They’ll have players, including talented youths like Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot (who is already back from injury), but they can’t ice their draft picks, and they are unambiguously into the tearing-down portion of their rebuild at this point. Tkachuk, Anthony Duclair, and Connor Brown are the team’s remaining leaders in points, with Chabot close behind.

Anders Nilsson and Craig Anderson have provided adequate though not particularly good goaltending—Nilsson’s .908 sv% is fine, but hasn’t been enough to save the Senators. Last night’s game was started by 25-year-old Marcus Hogberg, who’s been about as effective as Nilsson.

Their power play has struggled, despite looking like a decent threat. Their penalty kill has struggled, though it’s nowhere near as bad as it could be. Their skaters aren’t getting the puck into the net, and their goalies aren’t keeping it out. They’ve traded most of their better play-drivers (Dylan DeMelo earlier; Pageau and Ennis yesterday), though they do still have Tkachuk. And they played last night.

On paper, it looks like an easy win for the Predators. In practice, it feels like it could very easily be an embarrassing loss, though I’d love to be wrong about that.

Also, Bobby Ryan is expected to make his return to the NHL tonight.

The Nashville Predators

David Poile opted not to trade pending UFAs Craig Smith or Mikael Granlund yesterday, gambling that they’ll either re-sign or do triumphantly as “own rentals.” He also opted not to move a player like Nick Bonino (okay, I mean Nick Bonino) while his value is likely the highest it will be, and withheld from hockey-type trades of a roster player for a roster player. He did re-sign formerly-pending UFA Rocco Grimaldi to a two-year extension.

Like it or leave it, these are your Nashville Predators for the rest of the 2019-2020 season as they try to make it back into the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year—and hopefully go somewhere once they get there.

Ryan Ellis is back from injury, which is good; hopefully his return will help stabilize things on the back end. Granlund and Kyle Turris, as well as the Smith-Bonino-Grimaldi line, have been contributing well up front. We’ll have to wait for the offseason to see what happens with the top six.

Reasons to Watch

  • Filip Forsberg is due. Seriously, he is. This isn’t a Filbruary joke; the man has been playing great hockey and getting no rewards for it at all.
  • Now you can watch without worrying that someone’s about to get traded, if worrying that someone is about to get traded interferes with your enjoyment!/

How to Watch

The game is at 7 PM Central, live at Bridgestone Arena or on air on FS-TN/on the radio on 102.5 The Game.

Statistics from and background from Keeping track of what the Sens did yesterday courtesy of, and sorry I still couldn’t sort out the forward situation completely.