The Ottawa Senators wrap up their first month of the season with yet another incredibly tough Western Conference powerhouse.
(7-2-3, 17 points) 2nd Central Division
8:00 PM (EST), UNITED CENTER
TV: ROGERS SPORTSNET; RADIO: TSN 1200
RECENT MATCHUP HISTORY
The Senators and Blackhawks haven’t met since March of 2012, when the Hawks downed the Senators 2-1 in Ottawa. Their last meeting in Chi-town was a 3-2 Chicago victory in a shootout. The Senators haven’t defeated the Hawks in Chicago since March 28, 2001, going 0-2-2 since that game.
The Senators dropped their second game in a row to a top end team, bowing 5-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, which precipitated a half-hour players only meeting on Monday before they left for Chicago. The Hawks will be playing on back-to-back nights following their 5-1 win in Minnesota Monday night.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Erik Karlsson, OTT – Despite having 10 points in 11 games and trailing only P.K. Subban in points from defensemen, Karlsson is apparently feeling the pressure to lead the team from the blue line, as witnessed by his expletive deleted comments yesterday to the media. However, he has thrived under the pressure before, and the fact that he is frustrated could work to his and the Senators’ advantage.
Jonathan Toews, CHI – The Hawks’ undisputed leader, does so many great things that because he doesn’t put up gawdy offensive numbers he is sometimes left out of the conversation when it comes to the best players in the game. He willl be a key figure for Team Canada in Sochi come February.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Attention To Detail – The Senators need to pay more attention to the little things – getting the puck out, taking your man on the faceoff among others – in order to get their game back into shape. It applies to everyone, as not one player eludes some share of the blame for the club’s struggles.
2. Cup Champs – This is a measuring stick game for the Senators against an elite team that has the Cup in their possession. Ottawa has struggled against the Western Conference (like a lot of Eastern Teams), but this is a chance to finish the month off on a strong note.
3. Goaltending Battle – Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner (whoever gets the start) could face a lot of rubber fired his way. Ottawa leads the league allowing an average of 36.7 shots against per game while the Hawks are third in firing 34.2 shots at opposing netminders.
Despite the doom and gloom that has befallen the Senators over the past couple of weeks, the sky is not falling…yet. The schedule-maker hasn’t done them any favors and of the 11 games they have played so far, only 3 have been against teams with a winning percentage below .580. Seven of their games have been against teams among the top 10 in points in the league, and 7 of their 11 games have been on the road.
With 7 games in the first 15 days of November, many against lesser competition, if the Senators are still in the same position then it might be time to start worrying. But for now, stay the course and things can only get better from here.