After missing the last few games with a shoulder injury, Tim Stutzle is expected to return to the Ottawa Senators lineup tonight according to Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia. After practice, head coach D.J. Smith wouldn’t commit and explained that Stutzle will be a game-time decision after taking warm-up. Artem Zub and Joshua Norris were also both on the ice today in non-contact jerseys as they make their way back.
Stutzle, 20, was off to a great start to the season when he went down on December 12 after just four shifts against the Anaheim Ducks. Prior to that, he scored 27 points in 27 games, the start of a breakout campaign for the third-year man. It’s not that Stutzle had been bad as a rookie or sophomore, far from it. But this year he looked like a game-changing presence every night, carrying the play and establishing himself as one of the top young talents in the league.
Given the Senators’ spot in the standings, they could certainly use him. Ottawa is eighth in the Atlantic Division, 11 points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for that coveted third spot they were hoping to challenge for. Things haven’t gone exactly according to plan, though things are turning around of late.
The Senators are now 6-3-1 in their last ten and should get some more reinforcements next month when Norris is expected to return.