Saturday, December 31st, 2011
CBC, Team 1200
On the heels of celebrating Daniel Alfredsson‘s 400th goal (an OT winner nonetheless), the Ottawa Senators are right back to work as they close out 2011 with a New Year’s Eve battle with the rival Buffalo Sabres. This will be the third meeting in less than a month, as the Senators need a big win to not only help their playoff chances, but to put a dent in Buffalo’s postseason aspirations. It is something they could not do on Tuesday against the Habs, but this is a 4 point game that, should they lose, the Senators will look back on and regret not getting this one.
Both team played on Friday night and had to fly into Buffalo after their respective games. While the Senators were able to overcome a 3-0 deficit to beat the Flames 4-3, Buffalo was losing in Washington, by a 3-1 score to the Capitals.
Ryan Miller took the loss last night for Buffalo, so I would expect to see Jhonas Enroth in net tonight, facing Craig Anderson who stopped all 17 shots he faced after coming in to relieve Alex Auld to begin the second period against Calgary.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Craig Anderson, G (OTT) – Anderson has won each of his 4 starts after being pulled this season. While he didn’t get the start last night, he did earn the win. How he responds tonight will say something about his compete level, which we aren’t really sure about as the midway point of the season approaches.
Jhonas Enroth, G (BUF) – After a scorching start to his season, Enroth has lost the last 4 starts and 7 of his last 8 appearances. He hasn’t won in over a month as the Sabres have plummeted in the standings. However he is 2-0 against Ottawa this season and has never lost to the Senators in 3 career starts.
3 KEYS TO A SENATORS VICTORY
1. Alfredsson – Now that he has got the pressure of 400 off his shoulders, the captain and his teammates can focus on the game at hand, not the milestone.
2. Get to Enroth Early and Often – Assuming he does get the start, getting to him early will shatter the hold he has over the Senators. He is a struggling goalie for a struggling team, and the Senators can’t count on 3rd period comebacks EVERY night, even if it does seem that way sometimes.
3. Balanced Attack – Nick Foligno, Zack Smith and Alfredsson all scored their 11th goals of the season last night. The Senators have 5 players on pace to score 20 goals or more, and that bodes well with 3 lines scoring.
Check back after the game for a full recap, and enjoy your New Year’s Eve!
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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