The Ottawa Senators hit the road without their top scoring forward as they begin life without Jason Spezza, for who knows how long.
5-1-1, 1st Eastern Conference
2-3-0, 12th Eastern Conference
TV: Rogers Sportsnet, Radio: Team 1200
HEAD TO HEAD
The Canes and Sens split their 4 games last season, with each game being decided by one goal. Each team won a game in extra time. Ottawa won the first two contests, while Carolina has won the last two times they met.
Ottawa defeated divisional rival Montreal 5-1 on Wednesday, and as of Friday morning are the top seeded team in the Eastern Conference, while the Hurricanes lost 5-3 to the Boston Bruins way back on Monday, and have had 3 days rest to try and regroup to save their season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mika Zibanejad, OTT – With Jason Spezza on the shelf, the door is open for either Zibanejad or Peter Regin to fill in second line minutes behind Kyle Turris. Zibanejad has looked stellar in his two home games and will get the chance to show he deserves the role.
Jordan Staal, CAR – The Hurricanes’ biggest off-season acquisition is still looking for his first goal, although he does lead his club with 5 assists. Staal is going to be counted on to provide more offense than he did in Pittsburgh when he was in the shadows of two of the game’s biggest stars.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Coping With Spezza’s Loss – The Senators will need contributions from all forwards and also the defense as there will be no one player able to make up for Spezza’s lost production.
2. Where’s Ward-o? – Cam Ward has been absolutely dreadful in the Hurricane’s net. His 4.50 GAA and .861 SP rank him in the 50′s among all goalies who have played this year. Not good enough from a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner and without a drastic improvement, the Canes will not have a chance this year.
3. Every Point Counts – While the Senators are comfortable right now in the standings, games and the level of competition are going to get tougher. Other than Pittsburgh, they haven’t faced a top level team yet this season.
The true test of the depth of the Senators begins tonight. They have won the last two games without Spezza, but that was before the news hit about the severity of his injury. Now the spotlight shifts to those who will be counted on to turn it up a notch every night – each and every player who puts on a uniform.
Enjoy the game!