The Ottawa Senators take to the ice for first time since their humbling in Buffalo. It was not a pleasant road-trip facing divisional rivals and only returning with two points. I hope the Buffalo game was just a blip but there have been a sprinkling of these ‘alarm-bell’ type games.
Both teams come into the game with ropey form. The Blues were struggling to keep the puck out of their net before Hutton’s heroics last night in Philadelphia, stopping all 26 shots that came his way. The Sens are 2-2-1 in their last five, the Blues 2-3-0. The Sens will be looking to kickstart their four-game home stand at the Canadian Tire Centre, with a win.
Scoring can be a problem for Ottawa, especially when you are relying on your star D-Man to provide the points. Karlsson sits 28th in points this season with Stone and Hoffman both two goals away from twenty for the season. It’s a problem that has run deep within this team, but marries in with Boucher’s defensive style. Conversely Vladimir Tarasenko sits 9th in the points total. Communication in defense is key when playing teams with star players, the Ceci-Phaneuf line too often both got caught looking to shut down Eichel, leaving the likes Foligno and Reinhart open. They cannot afford to do that with Tarasenko.
Breaking Down The Blues
St. Louis are quite clearly over dependent on the Russian as their next best point producer is Kevin Shattenkirk way down in 63rd. Therefore, an off night for their star man and the Senators could pounce.
Add into the mix the Blues horrendous goaltending. Such a dire contrast from last season, when they could juggle two in form netminders. No one quite understands what has happened to Jake Allen who currently sits on a .897% with backup Carter Hutton on a .902%.
Tonight’s Game Plan
The Senators game plan has to involve peppering the keeper from the start. Hutton may have had a shutout last night but that was a tough workload and if he plays tonight fatigue will creep in. If Allen plays, well, the same tactic applies.One aspect that Ottawa must improve on tonight is their intensity, a team famed for their speed and puck movement cannot repeat their performance in Buffalo. I’m not going to overly glamorise tonight’s game, it’s not a make-or-break but if they get humbled, those little cracks appear to be larger.
I fully expect an Ottawa win this evening, given the shape St. Louis are in, playing last night in Philly and their goaltender woes. Just like one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one shutout doesn’t make a season.