After pulling out a come from behind upset against the Ducks, the Columbus Blue Jackets focus their attention on the Ottawa Senators tonight. The Sens have been in the news of late, not due to their play on the ice, but because of the name they acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs dealt Dion Phaneuf to the Sens, which signaled the end of the Phaneuf era in Toronto. The experiment clearly didn’t work out, resulting in another causality of the Brian Burke era in Toronto. The Senators said immediately that they don’t expect Phaneuf to be the main focal point of the team. Yeah, no kidding, who are they fooling? There wasn’t really any point in saying that, because the public already knows by now that Phaneuf isn’t a franchise defenseman. Much of Phaneuf’s time in Toronto was filled with criticism, showcasing yet another mistake by Leafs’ management. The Leafs are trying to clear out the cupboard right now and get them gearing up for the future. Sending Phaneuf to Ottawa is one of those moves.
The Senators’ season is done, in the sense of doing anything beyond the regular season. They are a .500 team at 25-25-2. Thus, the playoffs are there, but a far reach away. The Sens brought Phaneuf in to entertain the thought of making a push for the postseason. Their defense has been suffering, and bringing in a big name defenseman was a move to try and shore the blue line up. However, big name doesn’t always result in production. In his first game with the Sens, two games ago against the Red Wings, he made a serious gaffe which resulted in a goal for Detroit. Phaneuf has 3 goals and 26 assists on the season with a -5 +/-. He recorded 2 assists in his second start with the Senators, a 4-3 losing effort against the Colorado Avalanche.
Their opponents tonight, the Blue Jackets, should be coming into Saturday night with plenty of confidence after coming back from two goals to secure a 4-3 win in a shootout. Without Tortorella, I think the Jackets quit in that spot. However, his presence on the bench has elevated the exact same team that was there in Columbus before his arrival. The Blue Jackets will look to avoid a letdown spot tonight at home.
Ottawa Senators vs. Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Pick
The Ottawa Senators are tied with last in the NHL with 3.09 goals allowed per game. Offensively they haven’t had too many problems, as they are 7th in the league, scoring 2.8 goals per game on the season. The Senators were hoping that they had their guy in net after Andrew Hammond went on a major tear at the end of last season to get in the playoffs. Hammond struggled in the playoffs, and it continues to this day, as all he has to show for 2015-16 is a 3-6 record and 3.10 GAA. Craig Anderson has been the primary starter for the Sens this season. He’s posted a 2.84 GAA and 22-18 record.
The Blue Jackets can sympathize with the Senators on the defensive end. The Jackets are tied for last in the NHL with the Sens defensively, allowing 3.09 goals a game. The Senators have been getting lit up recently, as they have given up 3.60 goals per game in their last ten matchups. They have allowed 3 or more goals in 7-3. Likewise, the OVER has gone 7-3 in their last ten. The Senators have been scoring, though, averaging 3.20 goals in those ten games. They also have scored an average of 4.75 goals against the Blue Jackets in their last five tilts. Rookie Joonas Korpisalo has maintained the starting duties in net following the groin injury to Sergei Bobrosvky. Korpisalo enters against the Senators with a 2.60 GAA. There should be plenty of opportunities for goals against the worst defenses in the NHL. I would take a look at the OVER 5.5.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-105)