Sharks at Senators Preview: Reunion tour continues

Erik Karlsson returns to Ottawa to face former team.

The San Jose Sharks look to even things out on their road trip today and the Ottawa Senators may be the best team to do it against. The Senators (2-7-1, 8th Atlantic) are one of only a handful of teams in the league with a worse record than the Sharks (4-6-1, 7th Pacific).

The Senators are coming off a 4-2 loss Friday night to the New York Islanders. Ottawa’s top line of Brady Tkachuk, Logan Brown and Anthony Duclair have combined for just five goals this season. The team’s leaders in points are forward Connor Brown (0 goals, 8 assists) and defenseman Thomas Chabot (1 goal, 7 assists) with eight points apiece. Valdislav Namestnikov leads the team with four goals.

In net for the Sens, Craig Anderson and Anders Nilsson have shared duties so far this season. Anderson enters tonight with a 2.94 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. Nilsson has a slightly better save percentage than Anderson, at .919.

The good news for the Sharks is that Ottawa has a worse Corsi during 5-on-5 play than the Sharks. Through the first 10 games of the season, Ottawa’s Corsi is 46.91 percent compared to San Jose’s 48.88 percent (Natural Stat Trick).

Reunions everywhere

This stop in Ottawa is a massive reunion for the Sharks.

For Erik Karlsson, this is his second game back in Ottawa since coming to San Jose. Amazingly, most of the guys that Karlsson was playing with aren’t there anymore. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chabot, Anderson, Nick Paul and Bobby Ryan are the only players remaining from Karlsson’s time in Ottawa. Still, it’s a reunion for Karlsson who called Ottawa home for a great number of years.

On the Sharks’ side of things, this is a reunion with some fan favorites. Former prospect Rudolfs Balcers is on the injured reserve, but former Sharks Mikkel Boedker, Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo are expected to play.

Take the Shot

The Sharks have been out-shot in all of their past six games, taking just 17 shots in Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. San Jose is averaging just under 24 shots per game in the last six games, while opponents are averaging just over 33 shots per game. It’s not good.

Kevin Kurz of The Athletic noticed it too, tweeting this out during the last game:

In the game against Toronto, just 14 of the 17 shots came during 5-on-5 play.

To Jones or not to Jones, that is the question

Martin Jones wasn’t the problem in Toronto (except for maybe that Auston Matthews goal at the end of the game), but he didn’t get the win either.

Aaron Dell neutralized the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday and got the “W” with a 35-save night that ended with a .946 save percentage.

Head Coach Pete DeBoer has never strayed from the idea that Jones is his starter. Jones has had a day off and it would make sense that as the starter, he would start in Ottawa. However, if you’re trading chances on the road, then Dell’s your man.

For my money, I’d like to see Dell. I’d love for a goalie controversy to start brewing. Jones could us a push.

Bold Prediction: I took some criticism last time for being too realistic, so we’ll go a little bolder. Noah Gregor slots back in and gets his first NHL goal. Meanwhile, Erik Karlsson is inspired in his return to Ottawa and adds a four point night to his resume. Sharks win and give fans the false hope that this is a turning point, it’s not ... sorry, I needed to be realistic at the end.

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