As the top team in the Western Conference comes to town, the Ottawa Senators are hoping to surprise everyone with a win that would not only be a help to their current spot in the standings, but would also be a huge boost for their confidence.
(9-1-1, 19 pts) 1st Pacific Division
(4-4-2, 10 pts) 6th Atlantic Division
7:3o PM, Canadian Tire Centre
TV: Rogers Sportsnet Radio: TSN1200
Their last meeting came only two weeks ago as the Senators played the Sharks on October 12th, game 4 of their 6 game road trip. While the score was close, the shots were not. At all. It was the first of two nights in a row that the Senators would allow at least 50 shots on goal. It was also the first of two nights in a row that Robin Lehner was the best player on the ice. The Sharks won by a score of 3-2.
The Senators lost 2-1 to the Anaheim Ducks Friday night, despite the fact that the Ducks were tired from playing the night before, and their goalie was making his first NHL start. The Sharks beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 on Saturday night, so they could be a bit slower in Sunday’s contest. Although if the Senators play the way they did Friday night, fatigue shouldn’t be an issue for the Sharks.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tomas Hertl, SJ – The rookie sensation will help draw a crowd to tonight’s game, although I don’t think Senators fans will be wanting him to score 4 goals in this game. He currently leads the Sharks in goals, and is tied for third (along with five others) in the league. He may have just had a few lucky games to start the season, but he did score in the last match up between these two teams.
Craig Anderson, OTT – He has been very strong so far this season, and will be a major part in a potential win tonight. If any player can win a game for a hockey team, it’s the goalie, and Anderson has been known to steal a few games here and there. As long as the Senators don’t allow 50 shots this time, Anderson should keep them in the game.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Logan Couture - The former fan favourite in Ottawa as a member of the 67s is making his third return to the nation’s capital after a very successful junior career. Hockey fans in Ottawa love him, even if he was once Dany Heatley‘s teammate. Although I don’t think he had much of a say in the matter. I expect a few Couture fans wearing Senators jerseys at the game.
2. Get It Going Milo – So far this season, Milan Michalek has been… well… I wouldn’t say bad, but very underwhelming. Being on a line with Jason Spezza hasn’t seemed to work so far. There’s still time to try and recreate the magic from the 11-12 season where they both scored 30 goals, but Michalek has to step up soon if he wants to keep that top line job. And what better way to get things going than by scoring a hat trick against his former team?
3. Strange Lineups – As good a coach as he is, Paul MacLean has raised a few questions about his recent lineups. Sitting Patrick Wiercioch and Jean-Gabriel Pageau may have worked against Detroit, but having Eric Gryba, Joe Corvo and Chris Phillips as half of the defense two games in a row makes me cringe.
If the Senators can come away with a win, it would do wonders for their confidence. Saying that their win against Detroit was dominant would be an understatement, but I didn’t see the Red Wings fighting back. I’m not sure if it was because the Senators were managing to dominate the Red Wings on every play, but it seemed to me that the Red Wings stopped skating after the second period. If the Senators want to win against the Sharks, they’ll have to be prepared to play a team that won’t stop skating, and will fight to the end.