The news that Ottawa Senators goalie Cam Talbot will miss the start of the season with an injury was a tough one to see. A team that is loaded with expectations, you never want to see anyone go down. However, one silver lining for the Senators is that unlike years past, the Ottawa Senators schedule may actually help. Ultimately, the Sens’ schedule should be light enough for the Senators to get by as is.
Ottawa Senators Schedule Relatively Light on Workload
2022 Ottawa Senators Schedule
Part of this comes with the season being longer once again. Unlike the past two years, COVID is much more unlikely to play a significant role in the schedule. Because of this, it means that teams will have to play less crammed schedules. This really comes to fruition with the Senators as they don’t have a single back-to-back until December.
In fact, the Sens have just two in all of 2022! However, this does lead to a schedule that sees them have seven in the 2023 part of the schedule. Regardless, this is a huge improvement over the 17(!) set of back-to-backs they played in the 2021-22 season. Because of this, it should allow the Senators a better chance at their goalies getting rest between games, meaning Anton Forsberg can realistically be called upon a lot as needed to start this year.
Forsberg and Hellberg Split
Magnus Hellberg will absolutely get some starts in net. However, he will be asked to do much less than if Ottawa had multiple back-to-backs in the first few weeks of the season. Instead, it seems reasonable the Senators will start Forsberg as much as possible. It was likely going to be his crease anyways, and with Talbot out that notion will only be reinforced.
It probably wouldn’t be a surprise to see Forsberg start the first four games of the year. Ottawa is on the road for two, he will absolutely start the season opener. Then, Saturday they are in Toronto for Hockey Night in Canada. The third game is the Sens home opener which Forsberg will likely start. And the fourth game is against a solid Washington Capitals team.
Game five is where Hellberg’s first start seems likely. It is Saturday at 4 pm against the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are a rebuilding team and that seems like an ideal spot to get a goalie with just five career games played into some action. By that time, Talbot’s return status may be in a clearer picture. It would be three weeks from the announcement, and at the time they were speculating five to seven weeks.
Forsberg Handling the Workload
The good news for Sens fans is that we have seen Forsberg handle the bulk of a workload for a short period of time before. Ottawa had the right idea that he shouldn’t be expected to do this all season. However, for a few weeks? He seems more than capable of starting the bulk of the games. Especially given Ottawa’s light schedule in 2022.
Last season, Forsberg started a ton of games for Ottawa down the stretch. In our scenario, Hellberg gets his first game five games into the season. It all depends on how well Forsberg plays and how Hellberg looks, but assuming just league-average play, one could picture Hellberg’s next start coming five games later against another rebuilding team in the Philadelphia Flyers on November 5th. That would leave Forsberg to start nine games between October 13th and November 5th, about three weeks’ time.
Here were Forsberg’s games started in the final few months of last year:
Yes, nine games in three weeks is a lot of hockey. However, Forsberg did that multiple times last season and was fine doing it.
Once the Senators get to the November 5th date against the Flyers, their schedule lightens up in terms of opponents a lot. They play the Flyers twice, along with some other Eastern teams that have serious question marks around them. The switch goes from teams like Washington, Toronto, etc who you would consider locks to be playoff contenders, to teams that are best-case scenario is sneaking into the playoffs off the back of a hot year.
If Forsberg can weather the storm for the first 10 or so games, the Sens will be in good shape. Whether that’s allowing Hellberg a few more starts, or just easing Talbot back in and letting him take starts away from Forsberg.
It is a long season and goaltending will be needed to the end, but the Talbot injury may not be as impactful as originally thought thanks to the Ottawa Senators’ schedule.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 21, 2022