St. Louis Blues vs. Ottawa Senators: Game Preview and Opponent Outlook


The St. Louis Blues head into Ottawa for the third game of a four-game road trip on Saturday, playing their first day game of the year, as the puck will drop at 2:00 PM Central Time. The Senators, currently fifth in the Atlantic Division, could really use a momentous win against St. Louis, as they’ve been rather up-and-down so far this season. The Blues, meanwhile, will be looking to get back on track after losing two straight on the road to Boston and Montreal earlier this week.

We caught up with Eldrinson Vado, one of the writers at FanSided’s Senators site, SenShot, to give us some insight on what to expect in the Blues-Senators matchup on Saturday.

1. Ottawa seems to have it tough this year, playing in such a good division that includes two of the top three teams points-wise in the NHL in Montreal and Tampa Bay. What do you think they should focus on strategically, as we begin to get into the heart of the schedule, to make sure that they give themselves a solid chance to be in playoff position?

EV: The Ottawa Senators’ main problem is allowing too many shots on their own goal. Getting the puck out of their own zone and having trouble generating a solid breakout offense have been two of their main struggles all season.The Senators continue to work on decreasing their shots on goal against, but it still seems to be an issue even after 18 games played. With the return of Marc Methot, our perennial number two defenceman, the coaches and fans expect an improvement on defence from the Senators squad.

2. The Sens are getting arguably career-best offensive production out of Clarke MacArthur so far this season. Do you think he can keep it up and have a career year, or is there an expectation that he’s going to cool down?

EV: Clarke MacArthur has been a treat to watch, especially coming from our rival team (the Toronto Maple Leafs) and being able to produce this kind of effort, night in and night out is amazing. There should be no reason for Clarke MacArthur not to hit career highs. As long as he stays healthy and continues to play with Kyle Turris, his partner in crime, career numbers are within reach.

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3. On the other hand, a guy who has not been able to replicate his prior success level since coming to Ottawa is Bobby Ryan. Do you have any specific ideas about why he hasn’t put up points at quite as high a rate as he was doing when he was in Anaheim?

EV: It’s funny you mention that, just recently I had a conversation with the Pucks of a Feather editor about what’s wrong with Bobby Ryan. And the same issues came up: here in Ottawa he hasn’t been able to play with the top players. Paul Maclean insists on spreading the talent across the lines and puts Bobby Ryan on the second line. Mika Zibanejad and other players playing with Bobby haven’t meshed well. The main reason Bobby Ryan is being productive on the offensive end.

4. If you could pinpoint one Senators player for the Blues to watch out for in particular on Saturday, who would it be?

EV: Right now the man to watch is Mike Hoffman. The speedy forward is the closest thing you’ll see beat Erik Karlsson in a race. The young talented forward has been on a hot streak as of late, with 7 goals in 15 games played. He’s had his chances with Ottawa before, but now he is finally reaping the benefits and getting the recognition he deserves.

Thanks to Eldrinson for giving us a Senators perspective.

Brian Elliott is expected to start in goal for the Blues on Saturday. It’s unknown if the Blues will make any lineup changes, due to the fact that the team held an optional skate on Friday while head coach Ken Hitchcock attended a funeral service for his mother-in-law. It’s possible that the Blues will give the spot occupied by Magnus Paajarvi in Thursday’s game to either Joakim Lindstrom or Chris Porter, as Hitchock suggested that there would be some rotation until one of those players established himself as worthy of being in the lineup every night.