Today’s game is the Senator’s third in their current five game homestand. With 16 games left in this shortened lockout season each one becomes increasingly important as teams slide in and out of contention.
15-11-6, 36 points = 7th Eastern Conference
17-9-6, 40 points = 5th Eastern Conference
TV: Rogers Sportsnet, Radio: Team 1200
HEAD TO HEAD
Their previous meeting was a 2-1 Ottawa victory back on February 18th. Jakob Silfverberg scored the game winning shoot-out goal on Martin Brodeur. Ben Bishop was in nets and stood tall in Ottawa’s 16th game of the season in New Jersey. Both goalies were stars of the game.
The Ottawa Senators are looking to rebound from the scare that Tampa Bay Lightning gave them in Sunday afternoon’s game. The Senators looked to have everything looked after with a 4-0 lead going into the third period. Two quick goals shortly after the half-way mark allowed Tampa back into the game. Another goal made it a nail-bitter until Daniel Alfredsson’s empty-netter in the final minutes saved the day.
New Jersey’s last game was at home against the Florida Panthers. The 2-1 win was the 15th of the season for the Devils and their second in a row. Ilya Kovalchuk left the game in the third period with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, two of their top three goal scorers, both scored in the game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Marc Methot, OTT – One of the stars of the Tampa Bay Lightning game was Marc Methot. He assisted on the first two goals of the game and finished the game with a plus 3 rating; great numbers for Ottawa’s premier shutdown defenseman. His contribution was even more of a surprise because he was just back from a knee injury that looked like it could have sidelined him for considerably longer. Honorable mention goes to Silfverberg as he has 6 points in his last 6 games.
Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, NJ – Both wingers will have to shoulder the offensive load now that Kovalchuk is expected to miss the next 2-4 weeks with a shoulder injury sustained in their last game. The Devils’ goal scoring sits at three less than the Senators but defensively, they’ve allowed 16 more goals.
3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
- Goaltenders – Ben Bishop gets the nod to go head-to-head with Martin Brodeur in what will likely be a low goal-scoring and tight-checking game. The Senators’ goalies have allowed the Senators to be in almost every game this season, can they continue their dominance? Coach MacLean will no doubt have everyone focused on playing the full 60 minutes tonight.
- How will the Devils react to losing one of their top scorers? Ottawa has been scoring by committee – can the Devils do the same and stay with the Senators?
- Will Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg and Guillaume Latendresse continue developing chemistry? Zibanejad’s faceoff percentage has been over 50% for the last 6 games. As mentioned earlier, Silfverberg’s has 6 points in his last 6 games and looks to be finding his groove. Latendresse’s game has improved dramatically over the past few games and he’s been converting his opportunities like Ottawa management had hoped he would when they signed him in the off-season.
Look for Paul MacLean to continue working his team into playoff contention. The Senators lost to the New York Rangers in seven games last year and almost every player from that team has gained invaluable experience since. Much can go wrong with a young, rebuilding team and much has. I can’t believe the number of games that have been lost to injuries; it’s mind boggling. MacLean’s never-say-die coaching, along with his players who’ve answered the bell above and beyond expectations, are learning lessons every day. It’s these lessons that’ll be put to use when the play-offs arrive. Would any coach WANT to meet the Ottawa Senators in the play-offs? I think you know the answer. Go-Sens-Go!