Game Day: Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Friday December 16th, 2011

7:30 pm

SNET-E, RDS, Team 1200

12th East (14-14-4) VS. 5th East (17-10-4)

 

The Senators come into game two of their current four game home stand tonight following a disappointing loss to the Bruins on Wednesday. Knowing the team’s history versus Boston the expectations we’re probably not too high but after seeing the Senators control the play for the majority of the game, it was a bad feeling seeing them lose the two points. It’s like Kevin said in his game recap, the Sens shot themselves in the foot. They will be looking to have a comeback game as they face of against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Place this evening. The task will be tough however as the Senators have not beaten the Penguins since December of last year, losing the first meeting of this season 6-3 in November. With Milan Michalek, who has scored more than 20% of Ottawa’s goals, out for the game the challenge will be even more difficult.

Sidney Crosby will also be missing tonight’s game, which should be helpful for the Senators. Crosby had three assists in his last game against Ottawa though it was overshadowed by his two penalty minutes. He was sent to the box for an elbow to the head of Nick Foligno, who had fallen atop goaltender Marc-André Fleury, a play that clearly caught Crosby’s attention. Yes this is the same Sidney Crosby who has been practically leading a league wide anti-head hit campaign since suffering his concussion in January. Crosby defended his actions by claiming it’s diferent if it’s “part of a scrum” and saying it wasn’t a bad play. It got really interesting when Bryan Murray got involved. He made a sarcastic apology for not knowing that that kind of play was okay, before going on to say they now know it’s allowed, and they’ll know that for next time Ottawa faces Pittsburgh. He doesn’t fail to mention that Carkner and Neil will be back in time for the match-up as well, not at all concerned with being subtle.

Although any team would be much happier to play the Penguins when they are without Crosby, the Sens and Sens fans alike will be a little dissapointed to not see the outcome of the talk back and fourth between the two teams. The Sens now need to focus on taking advantage of the fact that the skilled forward is absent. But hey, there are still two more games between these teams before the end of the season, who knows what will happen.

Other injuries include Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar, two players who were also having bounce back seasons. With such a young defensive core, the Senators are really missing the veteran presence of theses two guys and the sooner they can return the better. For the Penguins, they will also be missing a Michalek as Milan’s brother Zbynek is injured along with Kris Letang, and Jordan Staal.

It will be the battle of the back-ups tonight as Alex Auld (.875 sv%) and Brent Johnson (.899 sv%) will each take the net for their respective teams. Though neither is having a stellar year, they both seem to do well versus the team they are up against. Johnson is an impressive 8-1-1 with a 1.99 GAA in his career against Ottawa, while Auld is 5-1-0 with a 2.06 GAA in his career against Pittsburgh.

Here’s what the rest of the Sens line-up should look like:

Forwards:

Greening – Spezza – Alfredsson

Foligno – Regin – Butler

Condra – Smith – Neil

Daugavins – Konopka – Winchester

Defense:

Phillips – Lee

Cowen – Karlsson

Carkner – Rundblad

Goaltenders:

 Auld

Anderson

It should be interesting to see how each team performs while missing key players and having their number one goalies on the bench. There will still be lots of talent on the ice but it is a game the Senators can win if they want it enough. A lot will depend on the Senators defense core’s ability to step up, and overcome the absence of Kuba and Gonchar. Everybody knows they are young and mistakes are inevitable but they can’t rely on that excuse play after play. They are still learning but they need to be more responsible with the puck, meaning less risky pinches and more simple plays up the boards. With that and continuing the offense they’ve had over the past few games, the Senators will be in a good position.

Check back after the game for SenShot’s full game recap. Until then, GO SENS GO!

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Tags: Alex Auld Brent Johsnon Bruins Carkner Game Day Gonchar Kuba Letang Marc-andre Fleury Milan Michalek Neil Ottawa Senators Pens Pittsburgh Penguins Preview Sens Sidney Crosby Staal Zbynek Michalek

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