The Ottawa Senators get right back at it, travelling to Pittsburgh to face the no doubt ornery Penguins, who should be getting one of their all-stars back.
7-4-2, T-4th Eastern Conference
8-5-0, T-4th Eastern Conference
TV: TSN, Radio: Team 1200
HEAD TO HEAD
Ottawa took the last three matches last season against the Penguins after Pittsburgh took the first encounter. This season, the Penguins scored a shootout victory, 2-1, handing the Senators their first loss of the season, and it was also the last game Jason Spezza played.
Ottawa got off the slide a little with a solid 2-0 win over the Sabres on Tuesday night, ending a 2 game winless streak. Pittsburgh is coming off back-to-back 3-1 losses to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and Sunday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kris Letang, PIT – With so much firepower up front, it is Letang that the Penguins seem to miss the most when he is gone. His absence was noticeable in the two games Pittsburgh lost to the Devils on the weekend. He is expected to return tonight against Ottawa.
Mike Lundin, OTT – Lundin has said it himself, you will know he is playing well when you don’t notice him on the ice. That has been true through the first 3 games of his Senators career. He is averaging about 15 minutes per game, and plays sparingly on special teams. But he has been the guy you can throw out, and you will know what you are going to get. Mostly mistake free, solid defensive zone presence play. His ice time will probably increase tonight based the desire to limit the minutes for Sergei Gonchar and Chris Phillips in these back-to-back situations.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Ni Hidiing Mika – As I stated earlier today, Mika Zibanejad Comes Tonight In Pittsburgh” href=”http://senshot.com/2013/02/13/the-real-test-for-mika-zibanejad-comes-tonight-in-pittsburgh/” target=”_blank”>the biggest test for Mika Zibanejad will come tonight. Has he arrived as an NHL top 6 forward or is there still a lot of work to do? He will be thrown into the fire tonight, because the Senators don’t have much choice
2. Anderson or Bishop - Craig Anderson was stellar, but very busy, last night. Long-term thinking, he should probably rest. Short-term thinking, ride the hot hand. Ben Bishop‘s good start on Saturday makes it easier for Paul MacLean to make the switch. I would go with Bishop.
3. Line Matchups- MacLean did a good job getting Zack Smith against Cody Hodgson last night with the benefit of last change. He won’t have that benefit tonight, and he will need to be creative at every whistle, and expect lots of shifting on the fly to try and avoid certain matchups. Or he might go the other way and issue it as a challenge to Zibanejad to prove himself.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have one point between them in the past 2 games. That won’t last forever, and they could break out tonight. They have obviously missed Letang and his ability to get the puck up to them. If Letang comes back tonight as expected, Crosby and Malkin will be tough to contain, especially if the get matchups with Zibanejad and Da Costa up the middle.
Enjoy the game!