The Ottawa Senators have yet another chance to stem the tide of losing, when they make a rare visit to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets. It is the first opportunity Senators defenseman Marc Methot has had to face his old team, and the first time the Senators have faced off against an old friend in Nick Foligno.
(5-8-0, 10 pts) 6th Metropolitan Division
TV: Rogers Sportsnet; RADIO TSN1200
These two clubs don’t have a lot of history, having played each other only 11 times in the short tenure of both franchises. They haven’t met since Oct 22, 2011 when Ottawa staged a dramatic come-from-behind win. Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek scored goals in the last 36 seconds to turn what was a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 win.
Ottawa has dropped their last 5 contests, including the last 2 in shootouts, at least salvaging a single point against the Islanders and Stars. Columbus enters the game with a 3 game losing streak of their own, being shut out 3-0 by the Penguins on Saturday night.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Robin Lehner, OTT – With the neck injury to Craig Anderson not as serious as was initially feared, Lehner will still likely get a couple of starts in a row to try and get his team on a better path. This will be his 4th start (and 5th appearance) of the season, and he has already faced an average of 44 shots per game. He is still looking for his first win of the season, sporting a 0-2-2 record.
Sergei Bobrovsky, CLB – Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner has come back down to earth, with a mediocre .910 SP and 2.79 GAA. He has faced Ottawa 5 times in his career, all with the Flyers, and has a 3-1-1 record against the Sens.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Defensive Zone – For the first 14 games of the season, Ottawa’s defensive zone coverage has been dreadful. Every game there are 2 or 3 instances (minimum) where a Senators player simply loses track of his man and it results in a great scoring chance or worse, a goal. This needs to improve now or the Senators won’t stand a chance.
2. Powerful PP – The one area that has shown signs of life offensively for the Senators is the power play. Clicking at nearly 30% over the last 6 games, the new look of Kyle Turris – Clarke MacArthur – Bobby Ryan – Spezza and Erik Karlsson has been able to do what you would expect from a #1 power play unit – control the puck and get scoring chances.
3. Commitment – The Blue Jackets look like a good team to face to get off the slippery slope. However, with both teams in pretty much the same position, they are probably thinking exactly the same thing about the Senators. Whatever team commits more to playing from the opening puck drop to the final whistle will come away feeling good, while the other team will feel like they are in quicksand.
It is time for the Senators to give their goaltenders some help. They have been doing it on the scoreboard, but they have left their masked men hung out to dry in their own end. They are still averaging over 38 shots against per game, and most of those are not bad angle, from a distance shots. With the lack of being able to stay with their man, its a bad combination that should be easily fixable with effort. It doesn’t take much skill to play well in your own end, its a desire to do your job.