The Ottawa Senators have created a lot of uneasiness with their performance in back to back road losses in California, but in the last game of the road trip they can still come back home with a .500 record and stave off panic with a solid effort and two points.
10:00 PM EST
TV: ROGERS SPORTSNET RADIO: TSN1200
The Senators have not won in their last 2 forays into the desert, dropping 3-2 decisions in both of their last encounters in Glendale(Dec 2009 & Jan 2012). However, they have won 9 of their last 12 games against the Coyotes overall since the year 2000, with all 3 losses in that span being by 1 goal.
While the Senators put up a feeble defensive effort in allowing 56 shots to the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-1 loss Sunday, (following an almost as inept 50 shot against performance the night before), the Coyotes are on a three game winning streak and return home from a 5 game trip of their own off a 5-3 win over Carolina.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kyle Turris, OTT – The Senators’ most consistent forward so far this season makes his second return to Phoenix to play against the team that drafted him and then traded him to Ottawa. He was pointless in his first game against his former club.
Mike Smith, PHX – The Phoenix goalie and contender for a spot on Team Canada for the upcoming Olympics has batled inconsistency. He has won his last two starts, but they followed a poor start where he allowed 5 goals on just 20 shots to the Islanders in just 40 minutes.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. First Home Game Off A Road Trip – The Coyotes have been on the road for 10 days as well, and spent the last week in the Eastern time zone. Whether it is a myth or not, hopefully the adage of playing your first game back off a long road trip being a stinker applies tonight. (but not Thursday!)
2. Quick Start – In this losing streak the Senators have been notorious slow starters. If they come ready to play, they could force #1 above into play. But if they continue the trend of sluggish first periods, then that will not be put into play and can be ignored by the Coyotes.
3. Swedish Blue Line – This will be a battle of two young Swedes still entering the primes of their careers. Whoever plays better between Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Erik Karlsson will put their team in a better position to win this tilt. They should be teammates in Sochi, and maybe even a defensive pair, but for tonight they are the keys to their team winning.
While the Karlsson/Ekman-Larsson battle will be interesting to watch, so to will Jason Spezza. He hasn’t yet shown his offensive flair, and whether it is his groin, back, the opposing centres he has had to face or the pressure of wearing the “C” for the first time, Spezza needs to get his game together and quickly. With each loss the pressure will mount, and he hasn’t even played a home game yet. Fans can be fickle, and he wasn’t the overwhelming choice among fans to be named Captain, and to come home with just 4 points in the standings would make for an interesting reception in the home opener Thursday night.