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    Senators vs. Coyotes Tuesday NHL odds: Ottawa plays first game since firing D.J. Smith; teams unbeaten this season in first game after coaching changes

    The Ottawa Senators fired coach D.J. Smith on Monday.
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    The Ottawa Senators are a disappointing 11-15-0 on the season and on a four-game losing streak yet are -125 favorites at the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night. It's a bit of a perplexing number considering Arizona is a solid 15-13-2, but perhaps the oddsmakers are well aware of the "coaching bump" that has happened in the NHL this season. Ottawa will play its first game since firing head coach D.J. Smith on Monday and replacing him on an interim basis with Jacques Martin, in his second stint at the team's helm.

    Teams often play better immediately after a coaching change, regardless of sport. The NFL's Las Vegas Raiders have gotten one, for example, since firing McDaniels.  

    Smith is the fourth NHL head coach to be fired this season, and the three previous teams to do so all won their immediate next game and have improved overall:

    1. Nov. 13 – Oilers 4, Islanders 1: Edmonton fired Jay Woodcroft the day before and dominated visiting New York under new coach Kris Knoblauch. The Oilers are 10-5 under Knoblauch entering Tuesday's rematch with the Islanders.
    2. Nov. 28 – Wild 3, Blues 1: Minnesota fired Dean Evason the day before and dominated the Blues under new coach John Hynes. The Wild are 7-3 under Hynes entering Tuesday's game in Boston.
    3. Dec. 14 – Blues 4, Senators 2: Craig Berube was fired after a four-game losing streak. St. Louis scored in every period to beat Ottawa in Drew Bannister's coaching debut. The Blues are 2-0 under him entering Tuesday's game at Tampa Bay.

    Martin was only hired by Ottawa earlier this month as a senior adviser to the coaching staff. It's probably not a coincidence, as Smith has been on the hot seat for a while -- Ottawa fans had been serenading him with "Fire D.J.!" chants at home games -- with the team struggling and also under new ownership. The firing came in the fifth and final year of Smith's contract. He finished 131-154 with zero playoff appearances.

    It's actually pretty rare for an NHL team to make a coaching change while on a long road trip, with Tuesday's lone visit of the season to the desert the fourth of a five-game trip. The Senators play in Denver on Thursday before Martin's home debut on Saturday vs. Pittsburgh.

    Martin previously coached the Sens for nine seasons (1995-2004), compiling a 342-255-96 record, earning the Jack Adams Award in 1998 and guiding the team to the Presidents' Trophy in 2002. He holds the franchise records for games coached (692), wins (342), playoff games coached (69) and playoff wins (31). He takes over a team with 22 points, the fewest in the East. Ottawa is +380 to make the playoffs.

    Goaltending has been the Senators' big problem. They appeared to enter the season with a very capable tandem of Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg, but Ottawa has the 28th-best save percentage in the NHL as a team. It likely will be Korpisalo (6-9-0, 3.50 GAA) tonight. He has lost three straight and allowed 14 goals in that span.

    Mathieu Joseph (six goals, 13 assists) remains out for Ottawa, but fellow forward Vladimir Tarasenko (also six goals and 13 assists) should play after missing the past two.

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