Oct 14, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins talks to his team during a timeout against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game 8 Preview: Edmonton Oilers @ Ottawa Senators

The Senators look to continue their winning trend and discontinue their frequent trips to the penalty box as they host The Edmonton Oilers at The CTC in Saturday’s 2:00pm matinee. The Oilers will head into Ottawa in search of anything positive as their early season has been anything but successful.

 

(1-6-1) 3pts

7th Pacific division

 

VS

(3-2-2) 8pts

6th Atlantic division

Canadian Tire Center Ottawa

TV: CBC

Radio broadcast: TSN 1200

LAST MATCH-UP(S):

The last time that these two teams hooked up was February 11, 2012 when The Oilers edged The Sens 4-3 in Overtime. Erik Karlsson scored to tie things up at 3, with 10 min left in the third. Taylor Hall answered that scoring just 17 seconds into the Overtime period to damper The Senators hopes at 2 points. The Senators have a dominated against The Oilers over their last 10 games with an 8-1-1 record, although reading into this record too deeply is a mistake as it dates back to 2003.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Taylor Hall Edm- It’s pretty hard to talk about The Oilers without mentioning Taylor Halls name. Hall leads The Oilers with 8 points this season, including 3G 5A -6. As mentioned, it was Hall that notched the OT winner last meeting between these two teams and if Edmonton is to be successful this season than Hall must be the driving factor. If hall and The Oilers can’t begin stringing wins together soon than we can all expect an “Oil Change” in the not so distant future.

Jason Spezza Ott- It appeared early on this season that Team Canada had the right idea in terms of not placing an invitation to orientation camp in the mailbox of The Senators new Captain. Spezza was struggling putting up any points and had more maintenance days than your local apartment building’s superintendent. In the last two games however, Spezza suddenly surged into offense racking up 6 points. The captain now leads the team with 8 points through 6 games played (5G-3A +1) despite still looking awkward wearing the C.

TOP 3 STORY LINES:

1. Discipline or lack there of: The Senators have continued their seemingly impossible ability of taking far too many penalties averaging 5.5 penalties per game, yes that is the most in the league…by far. The Senators have also combined their inability to stay discipline with another amazing feat, the extreme lack of ability to draw a penalty. The Senators rank, you guessed it, dead last in Power Play opportunities at just 19 chances on the man advantage. So take the most TSH in The NHL and combine it with the least amount of PPO in the league what do you get? A minus -19 in that category along with a very, very angry walrus. If The Senators hope to have success this season, their discipline must improve drastically.

2. Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots etc…  Probably directly related to their -19 PPO vs TSH, Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner have seen more rubber this season than a Goodyear tire factory. The Senators are the runaway leaders(or trailers) in yet another statistical category, SA/G (shots against per game) Averaging a whopping 42.0 through their first 7 games. To put this incredible number into prospective the majority of the league averages under 31.5 shots against per game. The positive to these last two story lines is that it’s very clear what The Senators need to improve on to be successful.

3. 2pts no less: The Oilers are rolling into town as one of the worst teams in the league right now. The Senators are battling in the toughest division in The entire league and thus these games where you’re the far superior opponent become must win 2pt scenarios. With a much tougher set up for teams in Eastern Conference this season, combined with a division filled with too many play off bound teams (Atlantic); at least one of the expected play off, Atlantic division teams will finish narrowly outside a play off spot. The Senators do not and cannot afford to be that team, both for the sake of continuing a progression towards success but more importantly for the financial well being of the franchise.

PARTING SHOT:

Both The Senators and The Oilers will need this game to be one of change. The Senators poor early season habits have lead to some very ugly statistical categories that must be broken. For The Oilers it’s much more simple yet requires more than this game alone to create the turn around-a win. 2 points are up for grabs at CTC Saturday afternoon, both teams need them.

Tags: Game Preview Jason Spezza Ottawa Senators Taylor Hall Tim Murray

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