The Real Test For Mika Zibanejad Comes Tonight In Pittsburgh

Mika Zibanejad had a decent outing in his first game as the centre on the Ottawa Senators’ top line.  However, a home game against the arugably one-line Buffalo Sabres is a far cry from what the 19 year old centre-turned winger-turned centre will face tonight when the Senators square off against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins.

 

Feb 12, 2013; Ottawa, ON, CAN; Buffalo Sabres centre Cody Hodgson (19) and right wing Jason Pominville (29) fight Ottawa Senators centre Mika Zibanejad (93) for control of the puck in the second period at Scotiabank Place. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

At home, Paul MacLean did a great job at getting Zack Smith out against the Cody HodgsonThomas Vanek combination, effectively shutting them down.  He won’t have the same luxury tonight.  Dan Bylsma will have the opportunity to get one of his top lines out against the rookie centre, and the spotlight will switch to Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek to support Zibanejad in his own end.

Zibanejad took only 8 faceoffs (although he won 4), and just one in the defensive zone.  He was credited with 3 shots on goal, along with 2 hits and a blocked shot in just over 14 minutes of action.

Not a bad outing, but MacLean won’t be able to protect him on the road like he did at home, so expect a lot of shifting around for defensive zone faceoffs and seeing  Smith and Kyle Turris between Alfredsson and Michalek at least to start a lot of defensive zone shifts.

It will also be a chance for Zibanejad to step up and show he belongs, with a good performance aganist some of the game’s top players.

Topics: Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins

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