The Ottawa Senators will get right back to action for the first of their 8 sets of back to back games this season. They are coming in on a high note, having beaten the Florida Panthers in back to back games and are perfect so far this season.
3-0-0, 1st Eastern Conference
2-1-0, T- 3rd Eastern Conference (1st in Southeast Div)
TV: Rogers Sportsnet, Radio: Team 1200
HEAD TO HEAD
The Senators swept the season series with the Lightning last year 4-0, and none of them were really close.
The rested Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday, with Vincent Lecavalier leading the way with 2 assists in his 1,001st NHL game. The red-hot Ottawa Senators come in on a roll although they might be fatigued having played (and defeated) the Panthers one night previous.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Guillaume Latendresse, OTT – The big winger’s audition on the second line might be running out as he doesn’t seem to have the pace to keep up with his linemates. He supposedly has good hands and can be a big body presence on the power play, but to play 20 minutes on a regular shift might not be in the cards if he doesn’t show something soon.
Cory Conacher, TB – The little rookie (5’8″, 178 lbs) is showing some Martin St. Louis-type heart and is not afraid to go to the high traffic areas to score. He has points in each of Tampa’s three games so far this season, with 2 goals and three assists.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Goalie Questions in Tampa – Anders Lindback was brought in to be the starter, but he has allowed 7 goals in his two starts. Mathieu Garon won his only start, in Tampa’s last game against Carolina. It will be interesting to see which goalie starts for the Lightning. Garon is 00-3 in his career against Ottawa while Lindback and the Senators have never seen each other. Whoever starts, it will be an improvement over what Dwayne Roloson gave them last year.
2. Star Power - While the stars of the Lightning (Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis) have led the way for the Lightning, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson are off to relatively slow starts and need to pick up the slack as the Senators’ schedule gets tougher.
3. Ottawa’s Net Gains – Paul MacLean will have a decision to make regarding his starting goalie. Play the incredibly hot hand in Craig Anderson or give Ben Bishop his first action in two weeks in the second half of back-to-back. It is a no win situation, but could also be a no lose situation for the Senators. I will update when a decision is made public. NOTE: AFTER THE MORNING SKATE, BEN BISHOP CONFIRMED THAT HE IS STARTING THE GAME.
Ottawa got a huge favour from the schedule maker to start the season. Although Florida won the Southeast last season, they aren’t in the upper echelon of teams in the East. Tampa will be Ottawa’s first true test of the season against a team that can score goals in bunches. The true mettle of the defense and the goaltending will be tested and then we can get an idea of where this team truly sits.
Enjoy the game!