Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
TSN, Team 1200
When divisional rivals meet each other, it doesn’t matter where each team sits in the standings, and that is true of the rivalry between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. Despite sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference, the Habs hold a 2-0-1 advantatge in the season series. This will be the first of three meetings in the next 10 days.
The Senators boarded a train yesterday bound for Montreal with about 300 fans for what has become an annual Heritage Trip. Ben Bishop will get his 4th straight start in the Senators’ net, compiling a 2-0-1 record thus far in his audition.
Montreal has had a miserable season so far, with injuries and coaching controversies contributing to the misery and the fact that they simply don’t have enough talent compounding the problem. Carey Price is the only reason Montreal is in as many games as they are, among the lowest scoring teams in the Eastern Conference.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Zach Smith, C, (OTT) - Smith had a wakeup call earlier in the month, sitting out as a healthy scratch against Florida. At one point he was a revelation in the third line centre role, but has since been displaced by Jim O’Brien and finds himself on the 4th line. Has only 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 28 games after putting up 12 G, 9 A in his first 42 games. He needs to get back to a goal every 2 or 3 games to make opposing teams respect the offensive ability of the lower lines.
Andrei Markov, D, (MON) – The Canadiens blueliner has recently returned from chronic knee injuries that has caused him to miss much of the last 3 seasons. This will be his third game back, and the Canadiens are so concerned about his recovery that they are dressing 7 defensemen in order to monitor his minutes. He has one assist in two games since his return.
3 KEYS TO A SENATORS VICTORY
1. Erik Karlsson – The Senators premier defenseman has become a target of opposing forwards lately and it has been taking its toll physically. A game time decision on Saturday, he suited up and only scored 2 goals. Karlsson is -7 with only 1 assists in the three meetings against the Habs this season.
2. Ignore the Extras – Players like PK Subban thrive on agitating and being able to get the opposition off their game with post-whistle antics. For some reason the Senators are among the most penalized teams in the NHL, and not taking any extra penalties is essential
3. Get to Price early - If the Habs’ tender is on his game and gains confidence early on, he is difficult to beat. Get one or two on him in the first period, and the floodgates could open.
Check back after the game for a full recap.
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