The Senators are finally done with their month filled with powerhouse teams in the western conference. With the start of a new month, it’s the start of a much easier schedule.
(4-6-2, 10 points) 6th Atlantic Division
(4-5-3, 11 points) 3rd Metropolitan Division
7:30 PM, Canadian Tire Centre
TV: Rogers Sportsnet Radio: TSN1200
The Senators and Islanders played a total of three times last season, the last being March 19. The Senators came back from a 3-1 deficit to win 5-3, with 3rd period goals from Patrick Wiercioch, Zack Smith, Sergei Gonchar and Guillaume Latendresse. The Senators went 2-0-1 in that three game series.
The Senators lost their third game in a row on Tuesday, in a 6-5 loss against the Blackhawks. They may have blown a great lead, but the fact that they managed to score five goals against the Blackhawks is definitely something to be happy about. Even though Nikolai Khabibulin was in goal for Chicago for 4 out of the 5 goals. The Islanders are coming off a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Thomas Vanek, NYI – The main player in the biggest trade so far this season will be playing a team he has a lot of experience against, as he previously played for the Buffalo Sabres, a division rival of the Senators. Vanek had 9 points in 13 games with the Sabres this season, and was held pointless in his Islanders debut on Tuesday. Vanek was the first of what will be many veteran Sabres to be traded before the trade deadline.
Milan Michalek, OTT – If he’s there, that is. Hopefully his goal against the Blackhawks will bring up his confidence and he’ll start playing like the old Michalek. But if he’s as invisible as he’s been for a large part of the season, Senators fans may have to start worrying. Lets all just hope for the thirteenth time this season that Michalek and Spezza can find their magic again.
TOP 3 STORYLINES
1. Return of the Eastern Teams – Senators fans had almost forgot that the Eastern Conference existed during the month of October. 9 of their first 12 games this season were played against Western Conference teams. The west visibly has had a much better start to the season than teams in the east. The Senators currently sit in 11th place in the east. If they were in the west, their point total would put them in second last. In a conference of 14 teams.
2. What Are You Thinking Paul? – The lineups for tomorrow night have been released. We think. We’re still not sure if Paul MacLean is trying to pull a prank on all Senators fans, but it looks like he’s put Chris Neil on the first line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. Plus, now that Jean-Gabriel Pageau has been sent down, Matt Kassian will get just that much more playing time. But who knows? Maybe Neil could turn out to be a decent first line winger… Okay maybe not.
3. Robin Lehner, A Starter? – Could it be? A chance for Robin Lehner to prove he has what it takes to start most nights? Every Senators fan knew it was only a matter of time until Lehner got his chance, but I doubt anyone would have guessed that it would be while Craig Anderson was on the team. Anderson’s play has been somewhat of a disappointment, but his defencemen really aren’t helping out. Lehner has a better GAA and SV%, while facing an average of 50 shots per night. If I were MacLean, I’d give Lehner just as many starts as Anderson in the next 10 games, and reevaluate the goaltending situation then.
No more star studded Western Conference teams every night, no more long road trips and no more losing (hopefully) in the month of November for the Senators. Fans shouldn’t be worried until the end of this month. If the Senators can’t come away with a few wins against the Panthers and Flyers, then I’d start to get worried.