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Lightning at Senators: Changes are coming

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Senators fans are going to have to learn some new names after this weekend.

2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game - Atlantic v Metropolitan Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators: GAME# 61

Time: 7:30pm pm Eastern Time

Location: Canadian Tire Centre

Broadcast/Streaming: SunS

Opponent SBNation Site: Silver Screen Sens

So the million (and million and million and million and million and million and million and million and half-million) dollar question: is this the last time the Tampa Bay Lightning play against Erik Karlsson instead of with the smooth-skating defenseman? The rumors, after having died down a bit, started swirling again about Tampa’s interest in upgrading their defense with a player widely considered the best in the league. Will it happen? Should it happen? Who knows...these questions are better suited to the folks that make the big bucks and risk their jobs by making them.

What is for certain is that the team the Lightning play on Thursday will not be the team they play on March 13th. Even if not Karlsson, a host of his teammates will be filling out address change forms with the postal service. The remake has already begun with Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson getting shipping to Los Angeles in exchange for Drew Shore and Marian Gaborik.

Derick Brassard, Jean Gabriel Pageau, Cody Ceci and Zack Smith have all found their names bouncing around the internet as possible trade targets. In owner Eugene Melnyk’s wildest dream, you can add the name Bobby Ryan to that list. It’s doubtful that anyone is willing to take on a $7.25 million hit for the next four season, but this is the NHL and crazier things have happened.

As for the on-ice product, well...they’re not in last place. They’ve won two of their last six (beating the Sabres and the Rangers) while getting trounced 6-3, 6-3, 5-2 by Roger Federer the Maple Leafs, Penguins and Predators before losing Wednesday night in a shootout to the Blackhawks. So they’re good enough to beat bad teams, but not good enough to compete with good teams. [Sounds like the Bolts’ 2016-17. - Acha]

On the ice, they are squeezing every last bit of production out of Karlsson, throwing him on the ice for 26 minutes a game in a desperate attempt to stay competitive. After having a slow start due to an injury, he’s put up his usual assist numbers with 36 points in 53 games. His goals are down in part to a shooting percentage that is half his career mark. He’s shooting as much as he ever has (2.70 per game), they are just not going in.

Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and Brassard are pacing the scoring for the Senators as that trio has accounted for 52 of their 160 goals on the season. Other than those three, there hasn’t been much to root for in Ottawa because their offense hasn’t been good, their goaltending has been bad, and their defense has been worse. Oh and their owner is crying poor and asking for a new arena (and maybe or maybe not thinking about relocating the team). All in all, not a great time to be a Senators’ fan, but hey trades are fun!

Comparison chart: Random Photo from the past

Senators v Maple Leafs Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI

Karlsson wouldn’t be the first big free agent defensemen that Ottawa loses. In 2005-06 Zdeno Chara posted a career-best 43 points in his fourth season with the Senators. He choose to sign with Boston the following summer for $37.5 million over five years.

Losing the big blueliner didn’t hurt the Senators that much as they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final the following season. Another playoff appearance followed, but they were buoyed more by their offense than production from their blueline as there leading defensive scorer in those two seasons were Tom Pressing and Wade Reddon.

They fixed that by trading up in the draft (swapping their 18th overall pick and a third for Nashville’s 15th overall) to draft an undersized Swedish defender named Erik Karlsson. The rest is history. As are those jerseys.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards (updated!)

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman,

Mikhail Sergachev - Dan Girardi

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr

Jake Dotchin

Goaltenders

Louis Domingue

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Notes: If they roll with what Chelios is reporting from the morning skate, it’s an interesting change from the game at Washington. It looks like Coach Cooper wants to spread out his scoring a bit for a road game. It will force Ottawa to pick their poison in regards to sending out their shut down line. Since it’s Cooper - these lines will probably change 35 seconds into the game.

Joe Smith reports that Domingue is the first goalie off the ice and will most likely get the start.

Ottawa Senators

Forwards

Mike Hoffman - Matt Duchene - Magnus Paajarvi

Zack Smith - Derick Brassard - Mark Stone

Ryan Dzingel - J.G. Pageau - Marian Gaborik

Max McCormick - Drew Shore -Tom Pyatt

Defense

Johnny Oduya - Erik Karlsson

Mark Borowiecki -Cody Ceci

Fredrik Claesson - Thomas Chabot

Goaltenders

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon