Game Day – OTT @ CGY

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(17-29-8, 14th East)

vs.

(27-21-7, 8th West)

Coming off a hard-fought loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, the Ottawa Senators continue their tour through Western Canada for tonight’s meeting with the suddenly red-hot Calgary Flames.  This is a tale of two teams going in opposite directions.  Since their last meeting on Jan 14th (a 3-2 Flames win in Ottawa), Calgary has gone 8-1-2, while the Senators have gone 0-7-2.  Calgary finds themselves holding down a playoff position, while the Senators are staring last place overall directly in the face.  The Flames’ hot streak has been led by captain Jarome Iginla who has 15 points in his last 14 games.  Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has owned the Senators, sporting a 6-1 career record.

To make matters worse for the Senators (as if that were possible), just days after getting Jason Spezza back from injury, Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher missed practice on Monday and both will be game time decisions, with Fisher likely to play and Alfredsson questionable.  Jesse Winchester appears to be out for a few days with a lower body injury after leaving the Vancouver game early.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Calgary

Mark Giordano, D – The largely unheralded defenseman went undrafted in the NHL.  He has bounced around between the NHL and AHL, and even spent time in the Russian Super League before finally finding a full-time job in Calgary during the 2008-09 season.  After having a breakout season last year,  Giordano leads the Flames’ defensive corps in scoring this season with 5 G- 22A- 27 PTS.  He is second on the club in ice time (behind Jay Bouwmeester) and second in power play points with 13 (Jarome Iginla, 16).  In October 2010, he signed a 5 year contract extension with the Flames, for over $20 million, which kicks in next season.

Ottawa

Filip Kuba, D – Much more has been expected of the veteran defenseman than the 0 goals and 4 assists he has managed to put up this year.  Combine those stats with some often shaky defensive zone play and you get a player paid as a top-4 defenseman but playing in the 5-6 pairing, and who may soon find a regular seat in the press box.  Kuba is a prime candidate to be moved before the trade deadline if Bryan Murray can find any team desperate enough to take the remaining year of his contract @ $3.7 million.  Maybe he just needs a change of venue, because he is more talented than he is showing.  He definitely needs to step his game up to show that  he can still play at this level, because if he can’t be traded, he could be a prime candidate for a buyout in the off season.

LAST 5 GAMES

OTTCGY
RECORD0-4-14-0-1
GOALS FOR1316
GOALS AGAINST209
PP3/16 (18.8%)4/19 (21.1%)
PK9/13 (69.2%)14/16 (87.5%)

THREE KEYS TO A SENATORS VICTORY

Weather the Storm – The Flames have been on fire (pun intended) lately and have momentum on their side.  I expect them to come out flying in the first ten minutes and an early goal or two against could mean a long night for the Senators.  However, if the Senators can exit the first period tied or actually in the lead, it will be a different game.

Penalty Kill – The Senators have been sub-standard in this facet of the game of late, combining weak goaltending with uninspired work ethic.  Penalty killing is all about effort and willpower, something that has been lacking lately.  Of course, the best penalty killer is to stay out of the box altogether.

Line Combinations – Just when the top 6 forwards were finally back together, more injuries (Alfredssin, Fisher) could play a part in forcing new line combinations yet again. Clouston needs to find lines that work, and keep them together.  The defensive pairings seem to be as set as they are going to be, but the fluidity among the forward ranks (either through injury or otherwise) isn’t allowing for consistency.  Without consistency there can be no chemistry.

Check back here at SenShot for a complete post-game wrap-up.

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