Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200
The Carolina Hurricanes have been reduced to a stiff breeze for most of the season, and they are playing out the string looking at a lottery pick. On the other hand, Ottawa is heading towards the post-season with an eye towards catching the New Jersey Devils for the #6 seed and a potential matchup with the Florida Panthers and avoiding the defending champion Boston Bruins.
Fresh off a solid win on Sunday afternoon in New York, the Senators return home and get two of their top forwards back in the lineup. Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson will both re-enter a lineup that played very well in their absence on Sunday. Also, Sergei Gonchar will sit out this game with a minor lower body injury, so Matt Carkner will draw back into the lineup.
Kyle Turris and Milan Michalek set the tone on Sunday, with 7 points between them. Sergei Gonchar, Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson also had standout efforts.
This will be the 4th and final meeting of the season between the teams, and every one has been close. Ottawa has won 2 of 3, with one of the wins coming via the shootout. Ottawa’s loss was a 3-2 OT final in the Sens last game before Christmas, and was also the last time they met.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jason Spezza, C, (OTT) - His whirlwind month of March concluded with the birth of his child on April 1st. It was no doubt a difficult month for him, and he still sits 4th in league scoring. With Turris’ breakout game, perhaps Spezza will finally get a consistent supporting effort from the second line to open up some more space for himself and his linemates.
Eric Staal, C, (CAR) – Often rated higher than Spezza, and was a member of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, the Canes Captain has had an off season. He does sit 21st in league scoring, but is well under a point per game pace. A likely candidate to join Team Canada for the World Championships but has to be bitterly disappointed that he couldn’t lead the Canes to the playoffs.
3 KEYS TO A SENATORS VICTORY
1. Home Ice – Ottawa fans have their first chance to welcome the confirmed playoff club to home ice, and there shouldn’t be a lot of Canes fans to take away the thunder, as if MTL or TOR was visiting.
2. Eyes on the Prize – The Sens should keep the Devils in sight to make Saturday’s showdown meaningful. A loss by the Devils either Tues or Thurs night combined with Senators wins make a date with the Panthers in the first round a possibility.
3. Ward’s World – Cam Ward is still a solid goalie capable of stealing a game here and there. Get to him early and any wind will be taken out of the Hurricane’s sails.
Check back after the game for a full recap.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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