Thursday, January 12, 2012
Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200
The Ottawa Senators face a tough task Thursday as they head into Madison Square Garden to face the league leading New York Rangers. This will be the third of four meetings this season, with Ottawa winning at MSG in a shootout, and NYR edging the Sens at SBP. The last time Ottawa visited the Rangers, Wojtek Wolski‘s errant “accidental” elbow sidelined captain Daniel Alfredsson with a concussion.
Erik Karlsson should be good to return to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s win in Pittsburgh with an upper body injury. Other than his return (with either Matt Carkner or Brian Lee exiting the lineup), there should be no personnel changes for the Senators. For the Rangers, Wolski has been on the shelf since Nov 3rd with a groing injury and could return to the lineup if Brandon Dubinsky cannot go. Dubinsky is nursing a sore right shoulder and is a game time decision.
These are two of the hottest teams in the NHL right now. The Rangers have won 10 of their last 11 games, with the lone setback since Dec 15th being a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals Dec 28th. Ottawa has won 7 of thier last 10 and gained points in two of the losses, so this will be a good test for both clubs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Erik Condra, LW (OTT) – With the re-shuffling of the Senators lineup, Condra has been pressed into second line duty. Playing with Turris and Alfredsson, Condra has put up 5 points in his last 6 games. He is also a defensive presence and someone that Paul MacLean can count on in any aspect of the game.
Henrik Lundqvist, G (NYR) – An early favorite for the Vezina Trophy, Lundqvist has been stellar all season. His 1.85 GAA and .939 SP are both second in the NHL among regular goaltenders (to former Senator Brian Elliott in both categories) and he is tied for 4th with 19 wins. He is 88 games above .500 in his career, but his record against Ottawa is an even 11-11-2.
3 KEYS TO A SENATORS VICTORY
1. Shut Down Gaborik – The NHL’s third leading goal scorer has only 1G (and 1 point for that matter) in his last 6 games, so he could be due for a breakout game.
2. Don’t fcous on revenge -If he plays, it will be the first time Wolski faces the Senators since Alfie’s injury. Wolski cannot be considered a target and the Senators must not focus on him and making him pay the price for his actions. If it happens in the course of the game, that is great, but they cannot go out of their way to send a message (at least while the game is close).
3. Get to Lundqvist Early - Having won his last 7 starts, Lundqvist hasn’t allowed more than 2 goals in a game over that strecth, dating back almost a month. Getting a quick one or two on him might rattle him and make him decide it isn’t his night.
Check back after the game for a full recap.
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