Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Sportsnet SENS, Team 1200
The Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators both retooled during the off-season, but in very different manners. While the Senators cut payroll and went to rebuild from within, Florida uncharateristically spent money, and lots of it. Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, Scottie Upshall and Jose Theodore are among the new faces that opened the season in Miami. Then earlier this week, they traded David Booth to Vancouver for Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson.
The Panthers are off to a great start this season, going 5-3 early on. Goaltending has been excellent with Jose Theodore and rookie Jakob Markstrom combining to form a solid tandem in the wake of Tomas Vokoun‘s departure in the off-season. Up front the Panthers are led by Kris Versteeg, Stephen Weiss and Fleischmann, with Campbell enjoying a career resurgence under new head coach Kevin Dineen.
The Panthers have won 2 in a row, over the Islanders and then the Canadiens. They have been off since their 2-1 win in Montreal on Monday.
Ottawa returns home off a one-game road trip to Carolina, where they took a 2-0 lead before coughing it up late in the game and eventually winning in the shootout. The Senators are riding a 3 game winning streak and are one off their high of 4 from last season. Peter Regin remains out of the lineup for 6-8 weeks as he recovers from yet another shoulder injury. He will not require surgery but will go the rehab route. Daniel Alfredsson makes his return to the lineup after sitting out of the one game trip to Raleigh.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brian Campbell, FLA – The smooth skating Campbell has the burden of a monster contract following him wherever he goes, but in the early going the former Ottawa 67’s star has been a breath of fresh air for the Panthers. His 7 assists leads the team and his skating ability is understated.
Stephane Da Costa, OTT – With the departure of Zibanejad to Sweden and the lengthy injury to Regin, Da Costa will get an extended audition to be the 2nd line centre. He will need to find more consistency, as he has shown signs of greatness, but needs to demonstrate them more often.
KEYS TO A SENATORS VICTORY
1. Staying out of the Box – Ottawa’s power play has been the saviour during their wins this season. It is ranked #1 in the NHL and #5 at home. Florida’s PP is almost as lethal, coming in ranked 4th in the NHL. As good as both teams’ power plays are, both are equally bad on the PK. Florida (26th) and Ottawa (29th) have had trouble killing off penalties.
2. Craig Anderson – After a horrendous start, Anderson has got his average below 4, and from where is started that is a good thing. Since his one game absence for personal reasons, he has been very good. Teammates mistakes have resulted in some goals against, but wins are wins, and Anderson has 3 in a row.
3. O from the D – A key will be the contribution of the defensemen, most notably Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar has 4 assists in his last 2 games, and Karlsson has been dynamic in the offensive end all season.
This is the first game of 3 in 4 days as the Sens again head out for 1 road game on Saturday against the Rangers and return home for a Sunday tilt with the Maple Leafs.
Check back after the game for a recap of the action!