The Ottawa Senators have a quick turnaround, but so do their opponent, as both teams played Saturday away from Raleigh. The key difference was that Carolina’s game in Boston was a 1pm start while the Senators didn’t drop the puck until 7. That extra 6 hours rest might play a factor today, but cannot be an excuse.
(8-10-5, 21 pts) 6th Metropolitan Division
5:00 pm, PNC Arena
TV: Rogers Sportsnet; RADIO: TSN1200
Ottawa went 1-1-1 last season against the Canes,with all 3 games being decided by one goal. Ottawa won the last matchup, 3-2 in Ottawa. Their lone visit to Carolina last season resulted in a 1-0 loss.
Carolina earned a point against the Bruins, losing 3-2 in OT, while the Senator put a solid effort in Saturday night, defeating Detroit 4-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
THE GOALIE, OTT – Whether it is Robin Lehner of Craig Anderson that gets the call, they will need to provide the type of netminding that Lehner gave them on Saturday. It will probably be Anderson given the quick turnaround, but Lehner has been the more consistent and quite frankly better goalie this season.
Jordan Staal, CAR – This season has been a big step back for the centre who should be among the leading scorers, if not of the Hurricanes, but the league. Spent years in the shadows in Pittsburgh, and the move to Carolina was supposed to free him up at the offensive end. He is on pace for his worst offensive season, even including last year’s shortened season. He has just 7 points in 23 games and any thoughts from the summer about him being a member of Team Canada in Sochi has disappeared. He has just 1 assist in his last 5 games.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Build On Effort – The Senators finally put together a solid, yet still far from perfect game on Saturday. They need to build on that performance and continue to improve to claw their way up the standings.
2. Special Teams – While Ottawa’s power play is in the middle of the pack, the Canes are pretty brutal with the man advantage. Both teams have struggled to kill penalties this season, but Carolina has 4 shorthanded goals in the last 4 games, so the Senators cannot fall asleep while on the power play.
3. Staal vs Spezza – This has long been a pet peeve of mine, the comparison between Jason Spezza and Eric Staal. This side by side comparison usually ends up with Spezza getting the short end of the stick despite being more prolific offensively. Staal has gotten more play and more love from Team Canada consideration, and I don’t quite understand it.
The Senators need to put together a winning streak, and this is one they should win. It is a little early to be talking playoffs, but Ottawa is 5 points back of the second wild card spot, and in the mix with a number of teams clawing to move up. That group includes the Hurricanes, who sit one point back of the Senators, and giving them 2 points or even a point would keep them in the mix. An outright win for the Sens is what the doctor ordered, and something they absolutely need if they want to be taken seriously.