Senators head coach D.J. Smith said Tim Stützle is “doubtful” for Thursday’s rematch with the Winnipeg Jets in Ottawa. The rookie winger also missed Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Winnipeg.
“It's just been something that's nagging,” Smith told reporters Wednesday. “It really is minor but something that hampers him to not be able to go, to be at 100 per cent. With a player like that at his age, we're not going to take that risk.”
Selected third overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, Stützle has one goal through two games with the Senators this season. Smith said Tuesday the rookie is considered "day-to-day."
The 19-year-old had five goals and 10 points in five games with Germany at the World Juniors prior to joining Ottawa's training camp.
Alex Galchenyuk skated in Stützle's spot on the team's second line in their overtime loss against the Jets, scoring in the second period.
Brady Tkachuk was asked about his contract situation. The third-year pro is in the final year of his entry-level deal and is set to become a restricted free agent.
“That’s a good question,” said Tkachuk after practice on Wednesday. “I love it here. I love the people here, love the community. …Where the world’s at right now, we haven't really been talking about that, and we don't know how the salary cap is going to look for next couple years, and, honestly, I don't think that's the focus right now on both sides. Our only goal right now is to do what we can every single day and make playoffs.
“I love being here. I love the crew, love the teammates on the staff so definitely love it here, but we'll see how it unfolds.”
Based on Wednesday’s lines, it would appear that Colin White will draw back into the lineup on Thursday.
White has been a healthy scratch in two of the Sens first three games this season, including Tuesday’s game.
The Sens third highest-paid forward practised on the fourth line with Cedric Paquette and Austin Watson. White and veteran Artem Anisimov have been rotating playing time on that line though the first three games of the season.
For White, it has been a hard adjustment to make. He spent part of last season as the teams’ No. 1 centre and was in the lineup when healthy. He struggled to put up points, scoring just seven goals and 23 points in 61 games.
“For me, it's just being consistent night in, night out and playing my game,” said White, who was the 21st-overall draft pick in 2015. “Obviously, I'm not happy about being out of the lineup every night. For me, it's just coming in, working hard and doing all the little things around the ice and holding on to the puck and things like that.”
The 23-year-old White readily admits he wasn’t prepared to find himself fighting to get into the lineup every night this season.
“I really wasn't [prepared for this],” said White. “But, you know, things happen, and you start to roll with the punches. Mentally, it's just trying to stay positive and try to keep that confidence when you get on the ice and get into the game.”
Before the start of training camp, Josh Norris, White and Tkachuk quarantined together at Tkachuk’s house.
The teammates enjoyed each other’s company but struggled to find things to do to pass the time. They played copious amounts of video games, but then they got the idea to rearrange the household furniture for a game of living room football.
“It was great, said Norris. “We were getting a little bit bored and we really couldn’t do much, playing a lot of video games. We kind of found a football laying around the house and moved the couches out a little bit and Brady was the QB and me and Whitey were going one-on-one in the living room. Thankfully we didn’t break anything or knock anything over, but it was just something to kind of stay sane and have some fun in quarantine.”
White has since moved out, replaced by Stützle. Tkachuk’s girlfriend, Emma, was also staying at the house for a few weeks but has returned home. It’s become clear since her departure that the boys are better at making plays on the ice than making their beds.
“For the first couple of weeks that we were there my girlfriend was here. She was always cooking and cleaning for us,” said Tkachuk. “But now, since she went back home, it's now kind of like the college frat house. Day one it became a mess. We are just having a blast, playing tons of Xbox, watching a lot of hockey. So, it's been good.”
Living room football appears to have been shelved for the time being. Maybe once Stützle, who is nursing a minor injury, is healthy and playing again they will revive the game.
“No, not since quarantine,” laughed Tkachuk. “Not since, Whitey and Josh went at it. So no, no living room football, but we'll see how she goes in the next couple of weeks.”
Lines at Sens practice on Wednesday:
Coburn J. Brown