G21 Calgary Flames @ Ottawa Senators: The Tkachuk Bowl
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Five things to watch when the Calgary Flames take on the Ottawa Senators:
1. The Tkachuk Bowl.
Tonight two of the game’s best young power forwards will square off for the first time this season. Brady Tkachuk has 15 points through 21 games for Ottawa and leads the league in both penalties drawn and high-danger scoring chances. Matthew Tkachuk, despite recently going cold for a stretch, still has a respectable 14 points in 20 games. He has also been an elite chance generator and penalty drawer, sitting 3rd in high-danger chances and 5th in penalties drawn. Win or lose, expect both of these guys to be in the middle of everything for their teams.
2. Holding the fort.
David Rittich was nothing short of spectacular in two games vs Toronto. He stopped 71 of 73 (.972 SV%) and completely neutered their lethal attack at even-strength and on the power play. And it’s not like they were low-danger shots; he was making routine Tier 1 stops against Toronto’s top weapons. He was ~a minute away from helping the Flames steal all four points against the Maple Leafs. They need every point they can get right now. With Jacob Markstrom dinged up, and Rittich playing so well, I wouldn't be surprised to see BSD between the pipes again tonight. Ottawa, believe it or not, ranks 3rd in Expected Goals/60 and 5th in attempts/60 over the last 10 games. He will likely be tested early and often once again.
3. Be aware.
Calgary’s power play has not been very good this season. Not only have they struggled to generate offense at times, they’ve given up a lot the other way. In fact, the Flames rank dead last in chances against/60 while up a man. On the flip side, the Senators are 5th in short handed chances/60. They like to press the issue and teams have been able to do so against the Flames all year. They’re in a 3 in 4, 6 in 9 situation so fatigue could be an issue. If they get sloppy, Ottawa will press the issue and make them pay.
4. A lack of discipline
. Both teams have struggled to stay out of the box this season. Calgary ranks 2nd in time spent shorthanded while Ottawa comes 4th. Part of that is because they’ve played more games than many teams, however, they’re still below average on a per game basis. Special teams could play a big part in deciding this game.
5. Don’t sleep on OTT2.
The Senators’ 2nd line of Nick Paul, Colin White, and Evgenii Dadonov might not seem overly scary on paper. They have played very well this season, though. They’ve controlled nearly 58% of the Expected Goals at 5v5 and are generating more than 3 xG/60. Don’t be surprised if they make some noise in this one, especially if they they avoid Calgary’s best two-way line (they likely will; I’m expecting Tkachuk on Tkachuk).
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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