The latest from Vancouver on tonight's forward lines and defence pairings, young players looking to lock down spots in Ottawa and more before our 10 p.m. start at Rogers Arena.
Balcers and Brannstrom push for spots
With the 2019-20 season opener just a week away, the clock is ticking for the young players at camp like Rudolfs Balcers and Erik Brannstrom to make their mark. The pair each performed well in Monday's 6-4 loss in Abbotsford, where Balcers put together his best showing in the pre-season notching a goal and assist in defeat, and they'll have another opportunity tonight to make a positive impression.
"I kind of know what to expect in the games," said Balcers who appeared in 36 contests with the Senators last season. "I don't feel like I'm on the team or anything like that because there are guys fighting for spots so I'm just trying to play my best hockey and show the coach that I can play here."
Just two pre-season games remain on the schedule so with limited time left to impress the coaching staff in Ottawa, each opportunity becomes critical for the prospects trying to lock down an NHL spot to start the season.
"There's a little bit of pressure," Brannstrom said about the internal competition for roster spots. "I'm trying to just play my game out there and have fun so I've been trying to focus on that."
The Sens will ice another strong squad tonight against the Canucks that will see forward Brady Tkachuk, Colin White and Connor Brown check back into active duty. As the pre-season winds down, every team's game rosters begin to look a little closer to what fans can expect to start the regular season, which provides a good opportunity for a young Senators team.
"With two games to go, we still have some decisions to make," said Smith. "That's why we have some veterans out because we want to look at some guys. It's maybe a different process than some other teams if these kids are ready or not or maybe later in the year. Tonight's a big game for a lot of guys."
Given the lines and pairings at today's morning skate, here's how the Sens' projected line-up should look…
Tkachuk - White - C. Brown
Ennis - Anisimov - Batherson
Balcers - L. Brown - Boedker
Chlapik - Pageau - Sabourin
Chabot - Zaitsev
Brannstrom - Hainsey
Borowiecki - Goloubef
Craig Anderson gets the nod in net for the Senators tonight and, like Anders Nilsson on Monday, is expected to play the entire game. Anderson has appeared in two pre-season games this year (logging the first two periods in each) and has been solid between the pipes turning aside 47 of the 50 shots he's faced in exhibition games against the Maple Leafs and Canadiens. Marcus Hogberg draws back-up duty tonight.
Where to Watch
It's another late start out west tonight so put on a pot of coffee and catch tonight's game on Sportsnet ONE and RDS as well as on the radio with Dean and Gord on TSN 1200.