James Van Riemsdyk Jersey

James Van Riemsdyk is the man many Flyers fans love to hate.

He Is the kind of player Flyers fans seem to criticize the most: the goal-scoring winger. Goal-scorers, for whatever reason, are streaky, and historically when they struggle to find the back of the net, they receive the brunt of criticism, born of frustration. I think that there exists unrealistic expectation on so called “goal-scorers”. James Van Riemsdyk was never going to return to Philadelphia and instantly play like Connor McDavid or Patrik Laine for a better comparison. But, I digress.

JVR has indeed been streaky this season, and he has only produced three power-play goals from his usual net-front position. However, recently (in the third quarter of the season) he has played significantly better than at any point in the season. This, according to me at the least, is visible both in his statistical profile, and of course in the on-ice product optically.

What do the stats say?

On the season, not just in this recent stretch of games, van Riemsdyk ranks fifth in Corsi-for at 5-on-5 with 53.23 CF%. For context, that’s better than Kevin Hayes, and Hayes is thought of as one of the better play-driving forwards on the team. However, van Riemsdyk performs significantly worse from a Goals-for perspective. There, he’s only ninth (well, really seventh if we don’t include David Kase and Mark Friedman who have barely played for the Flyers) with 54.90 GF%.

The interesting thing about this statistic, however, is that his Goals-for (28) is not being weighed down by his Goals-against (23), meaning van Riemsdyk isn’t profiling to be a defensive liability, he simply wasn’t registering as many offensive chances compared to other players. This makes sense as well, as he was playing on the fourth line at points in the season earlier when he was struggling.

However, like I said, JVR has seemingly found his eye for net recently. In the third quarter of the season (so far), through ten games he has scored seven points, though only two of those points are goals (against Pittsburgh before the break, and Los Angeles). Perhaps more telling is that in his last fives games, van Riemsdyk has five points. Of course you would like the man you paid to score goals to score more of them, but any contribution is meaningful at this stage of the season, and van Riemsdyk is contributing regardless.
And the qualitative info?

At the very least, what I’m seeing with my own eyes backs up the stats.

As a bit of a precursor to this next section, to play devil’s advocate, we can perhaps place van Riemsdyk’s recent success on his new line-mates Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny. That would certainly be within reason given the two are all-star caliber talents. Yet, at the beginning of the year, van Riemsdyk was paired with Giroux and Jake Voracek and did not see similar results to what we are seeing now, so I would say that while Giroux and Konecny have certainly had an influence on van Riemsdyk’s play, their presence on that line is far from being a singular determining factor in JVR’s improvements.

In terms of the power-play, the double net-front idea, while I’m skeptical of its long-term success, has helped JVR produce points. With a forward waiting at the other side of the net (usually Travis Konecny), van Riemsdyk is given the option of attempting a move on his own, or if the opportunity presents itself, sliding a pass to the other forward for a slam-dunk into an empty net. When the Flyers are able to get the puck down low into those areas where van Riemsdyk can control it, this has been quite effective when they’re able to move and create space for it to happen.

As for 5-on-5 (well really all even strength situations), van Riemsdyk has been around the net and has been primarily getting his chances by creating space in front of the slot:

As shown by this in-game event map overlay I created of his last five games, there’s an awful lot of green dots (positive events) right in front of the goal mouth, right where you’d want van Riemsdyk to be. He’s unfortunately getting some shots blocked or missed, but that’s to be expected when in an area of the ice with heavy traffic. This map shows van Riemsdyk’s play at all situations including the power-play, yet from a manual reading, I can assure that the majority of the events on the map come at either even strength or 5-on-5.
In conclusion…

James van Riemsdyk is entering one of his ‘hot’ phases, and with Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny feeding him the puck, we can expect van Riemsdyk to stay ‘hot’ for the immediate future. Regardless, if he continues to drive play like he has done consistently throughout the season (to my surprise in honesty), then JVR will be a valuable asset to the Flyers’ playoff push over the remainder of the regular season schedule.

Connor Brown Jersey

Selected with the 156th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Connor Brown spent four years with the Toronto Maple Leafs and never eclipsed 29 points in a season. He was traded during last offseason as part of the Cody Ceci trade to the Ottawa Senators and already, in just 70% of one season in Ottawa, he has 35 points. That means, in 70% of a season, he has 120% of his career high in points. Is it just a one year fluke or are we seeing Brown starting to trend in the right direction.

Digging into Connor’s season, he has been fairly consistent in terms of points: October (10), November (5), December (9), January (9) and February (2), there isn’t a one month spike even if his November showed some struggles. He is consistent in points home vs. away and his points are spread out evenly among opponents and divisional play. When Ottawa wins, Connor has 15 points and a +15, when they lose, a similar 13 points but he has a -19. To me the big difference has occurred in the amount of time he is utilized.

At the beginning of the season he had a respectable 18 minutes of time on ice. He’s steadily seen more ice time as of late, highlighted by more than 21 minutes of ice time in five of his last nine games. Over the last 30 days, Connor is averaging the 22nd most playing minutes in the NHL. We are talking Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Artemi Panarin territory.

It’s not just scoring and minutes that has Brown putting together a strong season. He’s currently on Ottawa’s top line with Brady Tkachuk and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, a line that, unlike other teams, is a grinder. The line collectively has 103 penalty infraction minutes (PIM), 363 hits and 110 blocked shots and 72 takeaways. It’s clear this is a line that thrives on aggressively forechecking, creating turnovers and fighting in the corners for pucks. This attitude has brought out the best in Brown who is on track to have a record year in PIM, hits, blocked shots and takeaways. Additionally, he is no stranger to steady progression, he saw his points with the OHL Erie Otters go from 53 to 69 to 128 over three years scoring 45 goals in his final year.

Brown is also improving his shot selection. He is moving away from his snap shot (which he used 24% of the time in Toronto) and he is now using his wrist shot much more (up from 51% of the time in Toronto to 73% of the time in Ottawa). While his goals from the wrist shot are scoring at the same 60% click (his most effective shot), is has in turn made his snapshot better as he is clearly using it more selectively and scoring at a 30% clip (up from 19% with Toronto). Shot selection is a key area of growth in his game corresponding with the forechecking and creating turnovers in the offensive zone.

Ottawa, who is content this year to sit in the Eastern Conference bottom tier with Detroit Red Wings, has found a niche as one of the bruiser team in the NHL. They rank 3rd in times shorthanded (behind Carolina and Washington), 4th in hits (behind Vegas, Montreal and NY Islanders), and 3rd in blocked shots. Connor has adapted to his spot along the top line in this system and it’s benefiting his points and helping him breakout.

Frederik Andersen Jersey

William Nylander scored the go-ahead goal midway in the third period to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Thursday night.

Auston Matthews, Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman and Justin Holl also scored for Toronto, who came back from a 3-1 deficit. Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots in his sixth straight start.

Mike Hoffman, Noel Acciari and Mark Pysyk scored for the Panthers, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves.

With the score tied at 3, Nylander put the Maple Leafs ahead when he grabbed a loose puck in front and put it past Bobrovsky with 11 minutes left in the third.

“(Kyle) Clifford was battling there in front and it just ended up on my stick,” Nylander said. “I turned and just threw it at the net. Luckily it went in, but we’ll take it.”

Holl’s empty-net goal with 20.8 seconds remaining stretched the lead to 5-3.

Toronto has won three of their past four games. The Panthers have lost three of four. The Maple Leafs are four points ahead of the Panthers for third place in the Atlantic Division.

“It was a disappointing game,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “At home, you have to find a way to get something out of this game.”

The Panthers play their next four games at home and hope to gain some ground in their playoff push.

“One game at a time,” Quenneville said. “Let’s recapture some confidence here at home and get two points and go from there. There’s lots of hockey left.”

The Maple Leafs return home for a game against Vancouver, then go on a three-game West Coast swing.

“We did our part here in terms of getting off the mats and we want to build on this. We’re excited to get back home,” coach Sheldon Keefe said.

Each team scored three goals in a wild first period.

Trailing 3-1, the Maple Leafs closed to 3-2 when Kapinen’s shot from the left circle beat Bobrovsky with 2:17 left in the first. Matthews tied it when he poked in a rebound with 1:02 left.

“When we got down early in the first, we just tried to keep our composure.” Matthews said. “Go out there and take it one shift at a time and claw our way back.”

With the score tied at 1, Hoffman put the Panthers ahead 2-1 when he found a rebound in front and shot it into the open net at 7:25. Acciari’s shot from the right circle hit the post on the far side and went in at 12:36 and made it 3-1.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead when Pysyk one-timed a pass from Aaron Ekblad from the right circle 2:23 in.

The Maple Leafs answered 1:09 later after Hyman poked a rebound past Bobrovsky to tie it at 1.

“It was a big game for us and unfortunately we are on the wrong side,” Bobrovsky said.

NOTES: Maple Leafs C Denis Malgin, acquired from the Panthers on Feb. 19, was a healthy scratch. … Toronto D Jake Muzzin will miss four weeks with a broken hand sustained in a 4-3 win at Tampa Bay on Thursday. … Florida’s Joel Quenneville became the 2nd NHL head coach to reach 1,700 games. Scotty Bowman coached 2,499 NHL games. … Ekblad’s assist on Pysyk’s goal gave him a career-high 39 points. … Panthers F Erik Haula played his 400th NHL game.

Auston Matthews Jersey

Four nights after having the biggest comeback win in team history, the Washington Capitals will play hockey again and they may have a very famous guest in the stands to watch.

Tuesday after the Leafs’ morning skate, Auston Matthews said he believes Justin Bieber will be at Scotiabank Arena for the game.

Bieber, a London, Ontario native, was sitting behind the Leafs bench during the team’s last home game against the San Jose Sharks on Friday. Bieber attended the game with his dad.

Morgan Rielly scored the game-winning goal late in the third period sending Biebs into a huge celebration in the stands.

Bieber and Matthews have developed a mutual friendship after the Leafs superstar repped Bieber’s clothing line in an Instagram photo earlier in the year.

Bieber re-shared the image on his IG, which for famous people is like becoming Facebook official.

Bieber came to the game wearing Matthews’ jersey, and Auston was asked about that Tuesday.

“It’s pretty sweet,” Matthews said. “I think he’s coming tonight too. It’s cool having guys like that be big fans of the team and support our team. Obviously him being from here and him being who he is it’s pretty awesome to see.”

“I didn’t notice (he was there) until our last TV timeout,” Mitch Marner added. “I was sitting beside (a teammate) and I usually look at the screen to see what happened the play before and it popped up he was there.”

While he was at the game, Bieber took a photo with the Leafs’ mascot, Carlton The Bear.

“I’ve met him once. I am (a fan of his music),” Matthews said. “He hasn’t really come out with something recent, an album or anything. He was talking about bringing one out before Christmas so we’ll see.”

Zach Hyman Jersey

Zach Hyman knows his return to the Maple Leafs lineup will have a trickle-down effect on some of his teammates.

As players like to say, that’s out of Hyman’s control.

Hyman joined the Leafs on their one-game trip to Philadelphia as he gets closer to making his season debut after having knee surgery six months ago.

“The main thing about whether I do or don’t go on a road trip is if it’s going to benefit me or not,” Hyman said after practice on Friday. “With (the second game of) back to backs (on the road), there’s not much for me to do other than lose sleep and not recover. That’s why I really have not been travelling.

“This is really one of the first ones where you get to spend the night and relax and have the morning skate where I will be able to skate with the guys, be with the coaching staff and be with the team. Mentally, it’s great to get on the road with the guys.”

With the Leafs’ salary cap implications, some players will have to be loaned to the Toronto Marlies once Hyman and his cap hit of $2.25-million US return. That began on Friday, when forward Nic Petan was sent down. A similar fate could await defenceman Martin Marincin, while an interesting decision will come among the forwards.

Once Hyman is back with captain John Tavares and Mitch Marner, Trevor Moore presumably would knock one of the fourth-liners — Dmytro Timashov (the likeliest candidate), Nick Shore or Frederik Gauthier — out of the lineup. And there’s veteran centre Jason Spezza, already a healthy scratch, to consider.

General manager Kyle Dubas could also be thinking trade, as the Leafs reportedly are open to the idea of dealing Marincin.

“We have guys who worry about stuff like that and we have people who understand the salary cap,” Hyman said. “I can’t worry about what happens if I come back, I worry about coming back.”

When will that be?

“The decision is based on am I ready to play in an NHL game — and not am I ready to play in one NHL game but am I ready to play in consecutive NHL games, am I ready in an NHL season, and be good doing it,” Hyman said. “I feel strong, I feel good and I feel like I am very close. I have a date, but you never know. Practices have been going well and every day I’m just monitoring it and seeing how it goes.”

Other than the player himself, no one wants Hyman back more than coach Mike Babcock.

“Huge part (of the team),” Babcock said. “Even the people that aren’t fans (of Hyman), are now fans.”

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Speaking of returns, from all indications, Tavares will be back against the Flyers on Saturday night after missing six games with a broken finger.

“Would you rather play with him or without him?” Auston Matthews said when asked about Tavares’ impact.

“I think it’s a pretty obvious answer. He brings a lot to the table, he’s our leader, captain, he has been a dynamic player since he has stepped in the league.”

Though Tavares had just two points on the power play in eight games before he was injured, his presence should give the No. 1 unit a boost.

“The man in the middle on our power play has not been a left-hand shot,” Babcock said. “We’re not keeping anybody off Matty that way and that would make a huge difference.”

Tavares’ participation, on the ice and in the room, should go a long way.

“We’re 14 games in and the world is, like, crashing down on us, but we are staying positive,” Matthews said. “We want to take another step here in November and put our best foot forward.”

KILLER RETURNS

Doug Gilmour, among the most beloved Leafs in team history, has been hired as a community ambassador, the Leafs confirmed on Friday afternoon.

Gilmour, who stepped down from his job as the president of hockey operations with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, will join fellow former captains Darryl Sittler and Wendel Clark, as well as Darcy Tucker and Curtis Joseph, in the role.

LOOSE LEAFS

The Leafs were rather impressed with the goal scored by the Calgary Flames’ Matt Tkachuk on Thursday night, so in that sense, they were like the rest of us. Tkachuk scored in overtime against the Nashville Predators on a between-the-legs one-timer from the hash marks, putting himself atop the race for the best goal of the year. “To be going one way and turn your body the other, put your stick in a position that’s really awkward and then to be able to generate the amount of force you need, especially on a rebound, you need a lot of skill and timing has to be so good,” Tavares said. “It was a pretty impressive goal.” … Morgan Rielly on Friday practised for the first time after missing the past four practices because of an undisclosed injury. Rielly continues to lead the Leafs in ice time, averaging 25 minutes 23 seconds a game … Babcock on the tenacious Moore: “Everybody is always better player when they are in the right slot. Mooresy has done a good job and he has been at the net and he gets pucks back. Hyman is the best there is in hockey at that, but here’s an opportunity for (Moore) and he earned it. It’s not like we just fired him there.”

William Nylander Jersey

While Nylander has generated a solid eight points to start the 2019-20 season, his improvements go beyond the scoresheet. He may not have been able to get his feet under him last season but that is not the case after the team’s start this season.

Nylander looks like himself again. He has been skating and puck-handling much better than he was a year ago and it has helped his game immensely. A number of times this season, he has been able to hang on to the puck in the offensive zone, skating around and giving his teammates the opportunity to get set. It is a night and day difference from last season when he was unable to ever get his feet under him.

A contributing factor to Nylander’s solid start is his return to Auston Matthews’ wing. Both players have played far better together than they have apart throughout their careers. He was understandably absent from Matthews’ line last season, as the star centre could not afford to be weighed down by an underperforming Nylander. Now that both players are healthy and prepared, putting them together makes all the sense in the world. So far, it has paid dividends for both of them.

Nylander is showing why he is worth the nearly $7 million per season contract that he signed last season. He has been one of the Maple Leafs most complete players this season and the more games that go by the better his contract looks. His performance last season earned him no new fans but given the chance to play a full preseason and start the season on time, Nylander has illustrated that he is more than what he showed in 2018-19.
2018-19 Woes

Nylander did himself no favours in 2018-19. His camp was embroiled in a contract negotiation that lasted all the way up to the RFA deadline on Dec. 1. He signed his contract at a $6.9 million AAV, meaning he gained little by holding out.

By sitting out training camp, the preseason and the first 28 games of the regular season, Nylander put himself in a position with a very small chance of success. When he rejoined the Maple Leafs, he essentially gave the rest of the league a three-month head start. By doing so, he spent the remainder of the season playing catch-up.

As mentioned above, Nylander was unable to get his feet under him in 2018-19. He was not in game shape when he rejoined the team and it took until sometime in January to get up to speed. Even then, he was still several steps behind the rest of the league and it showed in his skating and his puck-handling. He made a number of costly mistakes, the most high profile of which came in the form of a turnover that led to a goal in Game 2 against the Boston Bruins.

What resulted was the worst season of Nylander’s young career. He was limited to 7 goals and 20 assists in 54 games and had his role reduced to the third line. It was a situation that resulted in a season full of regret from Nylander, but now he is ready to make up for a disappointing 2018-19.

Patrick Marleau Jersey

Auston Matthews famously pulled off a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater at NHL All-Star Weekend in San Jose in January, revealing a No. 12 Patrick Marleau jersey underneath to the delight of the Sharks fans in attendance.

But Matthews’ favorite memories of being Marleau’s teammate for two seasons came away from the spotlight, the times on the road or when Patrick and his wife, Christina, would have him and other Leafs players over on special occasions to hang out with their four boys.

“He had me over for Christmas last year, so that was fun,” the San Ramon-born Matthews said Friday. “Seeing the kids’ faces when they brought out the presents, when they could cone down and open them all. Lots of little things.

“Just spending time with his family and being around his boys. It was always fun.”

It’s pretty easy to recognize the amount of love and respect the Maple Leafs players and coaches still have for Marleau, who will play in his 1,500th career game with the Sharks against Toronto on Friday night at Scotiabank Arena.

In two seasons with the Leafs, Marleau had 84 points in 164 regular season games, helped the team make the playoffs twice — although not advancing past the first round either year — and provided a positive influence on a number of their players.

It wasn’t an accident, in other words, that Marleau’s stall inside the Leafs’ locker room at Scotiabank Arena was right next to Matthews’ stall, with fellow wunderkind Mitch Marner’s close by.

Away from the rink, though, was where Marleau may have had just as big an impact, particularly as it relates to their highest profile players — Matthews and Marner.

Part of the Leafs’ hope when they signed Marleau in July 2017 to a three-year, $18.75 million contract was that not only would he help solidify their top-nine forward group, but also be a mentor to their younger players.

“When you’re a kid and you see a man, just about 40, and he still loves the monotony of the game — the travel, the training, the work — all this stuff that gets you tired, and they never get tired, it gives you energy,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “Actually, it makes you take a look at yourself.”

The closeness that occurred between Marleau and his family and Marner and Matthews happened organically.

“Obviously, I knew they were younger,” Marleau said earlier this week of Marner and Matthews. “But to me, they were just great players and great people. It was easy to get along with them and be friends with them.”

Marner and Matthews would always play mini-sticks hockey whenever they visited Marleau’s house in Toronto. Marner said he went to Marleau’s South Bay home this summer, and despite the season, fell back into the same habit.

“The first month, everyone was trying to get to know him,” Matthews said. “Fast forward a couple years, we’re extremely close. Fast forward a couple months during that first season, he’s in our room, me and Mitch, watching Cars 3.”

Perhaps ironically, the type of contracts Matthews and Marner now have — with a combined salary cap hit of roughly $22.5 million for this and four more seasons — meant that Marleau and his $6.25 cap his for this year had to go.

After signing John Tavares to a seven-year, $77 million contract the summer of 2018, the cap-strapped Leafs had to trim payroll elsewhere, and Marleau had to go. He was traded to Carolina on June 22 and had the last year of his contract bought out by the Hurricanes five days later.

“No better person to do it for, that’s for sure,” Marleau said of Marner. “That makes it easy. Those guys are great people and great players and deserve penny they get.”

“We knew right when we signed him,” Babcock said. “We couldn’t get him for two years. We tried. We knew the math didn’t work out when we signed him.

Nikita Zaitsev Jersey

In one sense, the extended layoff for the Ottawa Senators comes at a bad time.

After winning two of three games during the homestand that ended with Sunday’s 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks and receiving a spark from recent American Hockey League call-ups Nick Paul and Logan Brown, there is renewed hope the club is developing the foundations towards eventually becoming a competitive squad.

Win or lose, though, they have no control over the schedule. They have little choice but to take a step back during the current calm before the storm of November games that begins Saturday against the Bruins in Boston.

Rest at home now. Play and travel later.

The Bruins game kicks off a whirlwind of 16 games in 28 days, a stretch that includes four sets of back-to-back games. On five occasions during that span, the Senators will play three games in four days.

Oh, and one other thing: 11 of those 16 games will be played away from Canadian Tire Centre. To date, the Senators are 0-3-1 on the road, where the match-ups are tougher for coach D.J. Smith.

“You know the month of November is going to be quite crazy, actually,” defenceman Thomas Chabot said following a Tuesday practice that was sandwiched around off-days on Monday and Wednesday.

“So you try and take advantage of those days and get some rest. It’s almost like we see it as a bye week, pretty much.”

More than anyone, Chabot should heed his own advice. He leads the NHL in average ice time, playing 26:34 per game. If he keeps up that pace, he’ll see 425 minutes of game time in November.

For Chabot and the rest of the Senators, it will be a measure of just how much work they did in the off-season to prepare for what’s ahead.

It could also serve as an eye-opener for rookies such as Brown and defenceman Erik Brannstrom, receiving their first taste of the grind of the big leagues.

In particular, Smith is closely monitoring the load on 20-year-old Brannstrom, suggesting he could possibly sit out a game soon.

After playing the Bruins on Saturday, the Senators will do the New York, New York thing on Monday and Tuesday: playing the Rangers and Islanders on back-to-back nights.

Managing the layoff between games is a science in itself. When the Senators are at the rink this week, the workouts are intense.

As the quarterback of the league’s worst power play – a miserable 2-for-37 after 11 games – Chabot recognizes the need to find answers through video and on-ice repetitions.

“It’s a long week, you just practice,” he said. “You keep working on your systems. You take the time to watch our power play clips and everything like that. You kind of just fine-tune those things.”

Chabot says there is also an opportunity to pump up the trips to the gym.

“Maybe you work out (off ice) a little bit more,” he said. “In the month of November, you won’t get a chance to do that much. It’s just little things like that, where you try to get in a little bit more.”

Maybe, just maybe, somewhere along the way this week, Chabot will also brush up on his Russian, helping in the communication with defence partner Nikita Zaitsev.

“Yeah, it’s a little bit better, I’m working on it,” Chabot said, with a laugh.

So far, the Chabot-Zaitsev pairing has been smooth enough. Generally playing against the top opposition lines, they’ve had some rough stretches in games, but they’re learning to work with each other’s strengths to improve.

Chabot is the offensive catalyst from the blueline, with one goal and seven assists. Zaitsev has only three assists, but he has generally been sound in his own end. He’s also a pivotal part of the improved penalty killing, which ranks 13th overall.

“He’s better than I am in the defensive zone and I’m better than him in the offensive zone, so we try and mix and match that together and talk about whatever happens,” Chabot said of Zaitsev, who came to the Senators in the summer swap for Cody Ceci.

“We’re trying to adjust together to find the perfect things to make us better. It’s a little bit hard when you start the season and don’t know each other, but it has been going really well together.”

They will certainly have plenty of time to grow closer in the next month.

Nazem Kadri Jersey

Kadri picked up a power-play assist, three shots on goal and four hits in Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Stars.

Kadri’s helper was the 200th assist in his career, which was delivered on Nathan MacKinnon’s second-period tally. Kadri has settled in nicely in Denver, posting nine points, 19 hits and 30 shots on goal in 13 games. With Gabriel Landeskog (lower body) sidelined, Kadri has been shifted from his usual center position to a wing role with MacKinnon, but that may not be a permanent arrangement. Either way, the 29-year-old should continue to enjoy top-six usage.

Ron Hainsey Jersey

Ottawa (3-7-1) at Boston (9-1-2)

Saturday, 7 p.m., TD Garden, SN 360, TSN 1200 AM, Unique 94.5 FM

THE BIG MATCHUP

Ron Hainsey vs. Zdeno Chara

Signed as a UFA on July 1 from the Leafs, Hainsey, 38, was brought in to play a key veteran role on this team. He has averaged 17:26 of ice time in the first 11 games of the season and is plus-three. Hainsey has done his job, playing a key role mentoring rookie blueliner Erik Brannstrom. The 42-year-old Chara, the club’s captain, is still going strong and playing a shutdown role for the Bruins. He’s always a tough competitor.

FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Play physical in a difficult rink

The Senators did a good job finishing their checks in a 5-2 victory over San Jose on Sunday to close out a homestand and that approach has to continue. The club had 36 hits against the Sharks and the Bruins are a physical team, so this will be a tough challenge.

2. Win on the road

The Senators’ three victories have all come at home. They’re 0-3-1 on the road. This will start a three-game road trip, with back-to-back games Monday against the Rangers and Tuesday versus the Islanders. A win in Boston would be a big boost for confidence.

3. Special teams need to be strong

The club’s penalty killing has been excellent this season and, of course, that starts with the goalies, but the units have been strong as well. The Senators’ power play needs to be better, however. They have been creating more chances lately, and that’s been a step in the right direction.

4. Big day for Brady Tkachuk

He had a strong effort against the Sharks and he always likes going back to Boston because he has plenty of family and friends there. Tkachuk played one season at Boston University. You can expect he’ll step up in this game.

5. Stop the streak in Boston

The Senators haven’t beaten the Bruins in the regular season since April 6, 2017, and that victory came in a shootout. Minus the playoff series victory that spring, the Senators have lost eight straight to the Bruins. Ottawa has lost four straight in Boston coming into this one and Ottawa hasn’t lost five in a row on the road here since 2009.

SPECIAL TEAMS

OTT: PP 5.4% (31st); PK 81.6% (13th)

BOS: PP 31.9% (1st); PK 83.8% (11th)

SENATORS’ LINES

Brady Tkachuk-Logan Brown-Anthony Duclair

Vladislav Namestnikov-Chris Tierney-Tyler Ennis

Nick Paul-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Connor Brown

Filip Chlapik-J.C. Beaudin-Scott Sabourin

Defence

Thomas Chabot-Nikita Zaitsev

Erik Brannstrom-Ron Hainsey

Mark Borowiecki-Dylan DeMelo

Goaltenders

Craig Anderson

Anders Nilsson

BRUINS’ LINES

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Danton Heinen

Anders Bjork-Charlie Coyle-Brett Ritchie

Chris Wagner-Sean Kuraly-David Backes

Defence

Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk-Connor Clifton

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

INJURIES

OTT: Artem Anismov, Rudolfs Balcers, Colin White, Christian Wolanin

BOS: John Moore, Kevan Millar, Karson Kuhlman, Joakim Nordstrom