After a week long pause of all team related activities, the Sens are back on the ice tonight to face the Colorado Avalanche.
The COVID outbreak began on November 5th, when the Senators placed Austin Watson in COVID-19 protocol, only to be followed by nine additional players and one assistant coach, resulting in three games being cancelled last week.
Those placed into COVID-19 protocol were:
Austin Watson Connor Brown Josh Brown Alex Formenton Dylan Gambrell Nick Holden Victor Mete Matt Murray Nikita Zaitsev Drake Batherson Asst. Coach Jack Capuano
The outbreak resulted in the Sens being shorthanded for five games, winning only one during that time.
The Sens have struggled to score goals so far this year, and will be without their leading scorer, Drake Batherson, tonight, who remains in COVID-19 protocol. Nikita Zaitsev also remains out.
Coming off a week long pause and having to face the Colorado Avalanche is a tough task. Although slightly under performing this year, the Avalanche still possess one of the more skilled teams in the league, even without the dynamic abilities of Nathan MacKinnon.
The Sens are expected to roll out the following line combinations for tonights matchup:
Tkachuk-Norris-Stützle Paul-Tierney-C.Brown Formenton-Gambrell-Ennis Sanford-Shaw-Watson Chabot-Thomson Mete-Zub Del Zotto-JBrown Gustavsson
There are two young studs I will be keeping my eye on during the game: Tim Stützle and Lassi Thomson.
Stützle finally potted his first of the season against Pittsburgh, right before the COVID pause, and hopefully this week off has allowed him to clear his head and recover, allowing him to play uninhibited from the pressure of not burying one. If he can get a point or two tonight against a team like Colorado, maybe it gives him the confidence he needs to go on a nice run for the rest of the season.
Lassi Thomson has just three NHL games under his belt, all within the last two weeks, but has slowly played himself into a top pairing role alongside Thomas Chabot. As of right now, Thomson has the trust and confidence from Head Coach DJ Smith, and if he can keep up his strong play, it would be difficult for management to send him back to the AHL. I’ll be looking to see how he skates alongside the top guys for Colorado, and whether he can continue to demonstrate the good gap control and strong stick positioning that won the coaching staff over in the first place.
The Sens are in for a tough return against a strong Avalanche team, and coming off a COVID pause having to play in high altitude Colorado will not be easy, but hopefully the young stars for this team will be up to the task.