From the day the NHL schedule was released, this game was the one circled on the calendar of almost every fan of the Ottawa Senators, where they will finally get a chance to voice their opinion to the player that was idolized for so many years in a Senators uniform but now wears one of a different color.
5:00 PM Canadian Tire Centre
TV: TSN RADIO: TSN1200
Ironically, the Senators have had probably their best success against the Red Wings this season. They won both meetings so far, all in Detroit, by dominating the first game 6-1 and then hanging on for a 4-2 victory ;ast Saturday.
Other than the loss to Ottawa, Detroit won the rest of their last 5 games, and have started to get rolling, including a 5-0 shutout of the New York Islanders. This hot streak comes after they went through a stretch of 7 straight losses, although in 5 of them they earned a loser point. Ottawa has been up and down more than a yo-yo, following up wins with losses and not being able to put together consecutive good outings. Their last game was a 5-2 home loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Daniel Alfredsson – Obviously, Alfie will be the focus of this game, at least at the beginning. There will be a pre-game tribute to the former long-time captain and career leader in most offensive categories for the Senators franchise. He has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games, including a 3 point night (2G, 1A) in his last outing. He missed the last meeting with Ottawa with a groin injury, but has played the last 3 Red Wings games.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Alfie – The reception Alfredsson gets after his messy departure will be interesting. It has been polarizing for Senators fans, with one segment respecting his decision to leave and appreciating what he did for the Senators franchise and the City of Ottawa. The other segment is bitter and feels abandoned and although appreciative for what he did in a Senators uniform, will still use this opportunity to make their negative feelings known. It will make for an interesting dichotomy in the building today.
2. There is still a game – Alfredsson aside, the Senators themselves cannot afford to get caught up in the emotion of the fans. They are quickly losing touch with the playoff race (currently 7 points out) and cannot lose any more ground. They need to focus on the task at hand and play it one shift at a time.
3. Lineup questions – With Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch both being scratched against the Canucks, was that just a message sent and received? What I thought would be one of the top 2nd pairings in the league this season and going forward has been anything but, and that duo will have a lot to say about whether or not the Senators can get back in the playoff fight.
There will be a fair number of cheers and jeers during this game, first it will be directed towards #11 in white, but after the Senators fan base emotes their opinions, the Senators need 2 points desperately. They have had 2 days of rest to prepare, and they have got to bear down now with 7 points and 4 teams to jump, they cannot wait any longer to make their move.