After falling in Philly last night, the Ottawa Senators limp home to face a Western Conference powerhouse who are also licking their wounds after taking a beating last night just up the highway.
7:30 PM Canadian Tire Centre
TV: TSN RADIO: TSN1200
HEAD TO HEAD
These clubs haven’t met in over two calendar years, and the Senators have had the Wild’s number. The Senators have won the last 6 matchups. The last meeting was a close shootout win, but the previous 5 were won by 2 or more goals.
Ottawa had another poor performance in Philadelphia last night, losing 5-2, while at the same time the Montreal Canadiens were putting a beating on the Wild, by a score 0f 6-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ryan Suter, MIN – He is a player to watch because, quite frankly, he will be on the ice more than he is off it. Suter leads the league in average ice time at 29>29, a full two minutes per game more than Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson. He has been over 30 minutes in 5 of his last 7 games, but played just 27 last night in a game that they were not going to win. He has 10 assists in his last 12 games.
Patrick Wiercioch, OTT – Chances are you will not get a chance to see him, but perhaps its time you should. With the rumours that the Senators are looking for a puck-moving defenseman, they should first get Wiercioch out of whatever doghouse he is in and let him play his way out of the funk that got him there. His offensive upside is what the Senators need in the lineup. The blue line the way it has been playing is too slow and immobile.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Harding’s Story - Josh Harding has been one of the best goalies in the league this season, rather miraculous considering his recent medical issues. He was yanked last night after allowing 3 Max Pacioretty goals in the second period, but will be back in the crease tonight.
2. Playoff hunt – Both of these clubs are currently sitting outside of a playoff spot in their respective conferences. The Wild have a tough battle ahead even though they have played great hockey. The Western Conference is so competitve and top heavy that they will be tooth and nail all season. Ottawa is in a similar battle but not at the same level.
3. Public Enemies – This game marks the appearance of two of the Senators biggest nemeses – Dany Heatley and Matt Cooke – at the same time. There will be lots of boos reigning down early and often, and at least for the first while it will not be directed at the Senators
While those early jeers will be reserved for Heatley and Cooke, the Senators fans are on edge and it won’t take long for a shift to booing the home side if they cannot come out of the gate storming with a great performance. Good efforts are acceptable once in a while, but you need to mix in some wins as well.