Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200
The Ottawa Senators pay a visit the Edmonton Oilers riding a two game winning streak that has seen the resurgence of Craig Anderson in the net. Anderson has been Ottawa’s best player in wins over Toronto and Calgary, and the quick pull in Buffalo less than a week ago seems to be far behind him now.
Edmonton is returning home from a 6 game road trip, somewhat cooled off from a hot start of their own. They lost their last 3 games, however they were against elite competition in Boston, Detroit and Chicago. The road trip finally over, they Oil return to the friendly confines of Rexall Centre, where they are 6-1-1 on the season.
The Oilers are led in scoring by retrunign veteran Ryan Smyth, who has looked like a 25 year old playing with all the kids in the Edmonton lineup. Rookie sensation and 1st overall selection Ryan Nygent-Hopkins is also setting a torrid pace, with 14 points in his first 17 NHL games. Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall round out the offensive leaders. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin has also enjoyed a resurgence early on this season, as his 7-2-2- record would indicate. Before the season, it was thought that the club would split goaltending duties between Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk, but the Russain has taken the #1 job and run with it.
On a two game winning streak, don’t expect any changes to the Senators lineup. This means David Rundblad will be a scratch once again. Defensemen Ryan Whitney and Cam Barker are on the shelf for the Oilers, as is rugged forward Darcy Hordichuk.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bobby Butler, LW (OTT) – A horrible start to the season picked up on Tuesday night, as his pair of 3rd period goals broke the ice for his season. Butler comes across as a streaky scorer, and if he heats up it can only mean good things for his playing time and the Senators’ success.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (EDM) – The first overall pick has had more impact that could have been imagined even by the Oilers. He has the potential to become the highest scoring 18 year old since Sidney Crosby. his 7 goals and 7 assists
3 KEYS TO A SENATORS VICTORY
1. Quick Start – Traditionally the first home game off a lenghty road trip is a struggle, and Ottawa needs to jump on Edmonton early to make them roll over. The first period hasn’t been good to the Ottawa Senators
2. Primary Scoring- Jason Spezza has only 2 assists in his last 8 games and Milan Michalek has only 3 points (all goals) in his last 8, and one of them was the “own goal” against the Leafs in the last minute on Saturday night. The secondary players like Butler, Nick Foligno and Zack Smith have been carrying the load, and its time for the big guys to step it up.
3. Maxing BOTH Special Teams – Ottawa’s power play carried them early in the season, while their power play was terrible. Since the calendar turned to November, the power play has sputtered going 2/22 (9%) and the PK has been a stellar 27/28 (96.4%). If they can get both sides of the special teams working at once, the Senators will be a tough team to beat.
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