Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
TSN, Team 1200
As the Ottawa Senators square off against the Buffalo Sabres for the second of 3 December meetings, all eyes will be on the newest Ottawa Senator, Kyle Turris. Not to be overshadowed is the return of a pair of veteran defensemen, Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba.
Buffalo is coming off an 8-3 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, which came a night after the Senators beat the same Penguins 6-4 at Scotiabank Place, which was their last game. Having 4 days off didn’t mean there was no news, as the club and its fans (im)patiently await the arrival of a new scoreboard and the debut of the newest contender for the 2nd line centre role.
Buffalo has won two of the previous 3 matches this season between the clubs, with each team winning once in extra time. While the Senators are just getting back to health, with only Milan Michalek currently on the shelf (assuming Gonchar and Kuba are both indeed fit to play), the Sabres have been devastated by injuries. They had only 10 forwards at practice on Monday, and have called up a pair of forwards as a fail-safe for Tuesday’s game. One of those call-ups is Marcus Foligno, younger brother of Nick, who could make his NHL debut against his older sibling in this game.
Daniel Alfredsson sits 2 goals away from 400 in his career and many of his greatest moments have come against the Sabres. Why not another one in this game? Picture an Alfie game winner to put the Senators ahead of the Sabres in the standings. It could happen!
The goaltending matchup will likey see Craig Anderson facing Jhonas Enroth, as he has never lost to Ottawa, and Ryan Miller was pulled not once but twice on Saturday against the Penguins.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Christian Ehrhoff, D (BUF) – Ehrhoff is the Sabres leading scorer from the blue line, and with the injury to Tyler Myers, is the best defenseman and the supposed leader of the defense corps. However, with a team-worst -8 rating, the Sabres haven’t got their $50 M worth yet.
Kyle Turris, C (OTT) – All eyes will be on the 3rd overall draft pick of the Coyotes to see exactly what the Senators got in exchange for David Rundblad and a 2nd round pick. I have been critical of the deal, but this will be the first chance for Turris to change my mind. He practiced Monday on a line with Nick Foligno and Erik Condra.
3 KEYS TO A SENATORS VICTORY
1. Spezza – The reigning NHL 1st star of the week is a streaky scorer, and with 11 points in his last 5 games he is on a hot streak. The combination with Alfredsson has been golden and Spezza has made his way into the top 10 in scoring, and with a really good night could move into the lead.
2. The Blue Line – Inexperience is not an excuse any more as the 1,800 games missing from the lineup the last few games should be back. This is the most experienced and should be the most solid unit the Senators have put out there all season, and Cowen’s growth over the last two weeks is remarkable.
3. Sorting things out Quickly – With a new player, comes new combinations. Turris-Foligno-Condra is a unique trio, but also moves other players around. Adjusting to new linemates early will be key.
Check back after the game for a full recap.
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