Its a good thing the Ottawa Senators don’t play on the west coast very often, because these late games are playing havoc with my sleep patterns. But we must soldier on, and it is another late puck drop as the Senators begin the second half of their 6 game season opening road trip.
10:00 PM EST, SAP Centre
TV: CBC (Ottawa) RADIO: TSN1200
PAST HISTORY: The Senators and Sharks haven’t met since Jan 19 2012, when they skated away with a 4-1 win in San Jose. That was the only time since the 2004-05 lockout that the Senators have managed to beat the Sharks, as they have a record of 1-4-1 record against them since the season-long work stoppage.
LAST GAMES: San Jose continued their dominance of the Vancouver Canucks with a 4-1 win on Thursday while the Senators came back to earn a point after falling behing 3-0 in the first period against the Kings, only to lose 4-3 in OT on a Jeff Carter goal.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kyle Turris, OTT: Whether or not Jason Spezza draws back into the lineup against the Sharks, Turris is going to have to step up, because the Sharks are one of the deepest teams in the league down the middle. Turris leads the team in scoring (1G, 3A) and plus/minus (+3). He has 9 points in 12 career games against the Sharks, primarily with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Logan Couture, SJS: The former captain of the Ottawa 67′s has recorded 6 points in the Sharks’ first 4 games, second only to Tomas Hertl‘s 7. He is playing more than 18 minute per game and is over 60% in the faceoff circle. He has only face the Senators twice in his career, scoring 2 goals against Ottawa.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR TONIGHT’S GAME
1. Slow Down The Sharks: San Jose isn’t just winning, they are dominating and they have to be considered to be playing the best hockey in the league in the early going. Their goal differential is +16, leading the league by 6, meaning they win by an average of 4 goals per game.
2. Spezza?: While all signs point to the Captain returning to the lineup, how effective can he be if he does? His presence cannot be underestimated, and even if he can’t play a regular shift, playing on the power play would be a boost. The team just needs to make sure they don’t let this become chronic and linger on.
3. Discipline: Ottawa took too many penalties in the first period against the Kings, and it cost them. They need to play an aggressive game, but stay out of the box or the Sharks will eat them alive.
Before the trip started, if the Senators came home with 6 of a possible 12 points on a tough road trip you would have considered it a success. With the trip half over, they have banked 4 points. While this is a tough matchup for the Sens, it provides them the opportunity to show that they are indeed for real and a win tonight would send a message to the league that they should not be taken lightly.