The Ottawa Senators take on the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks tonight. The Senators are currently riding a four-game win streak, while the Canucks had their six-game win streak snapped by the Montreal Canadiens in a 2-0 shutout on Tuesday night. The Canucks are arguably the strongest team the Senators have faced since the Washington Capitals on October 11, so this game should be an excellent litmus test of how this team fares against stronger competition. Pascal Leclaire gets the start tonight as Brian Elliott is reportedly a little banged up. It's Leclaire's first start since October 14 against Carolina when he left with an injury only three minutes into the game.
Some things of note:
- Despite being arguably the team's best player at the start of the season, the Senators have been outscored 10-4 in the 185 minutes Pascal Leclaire has been in goal. Can they finally give him the run support he needs?
- Leclaire is 3-4-1 lifetime against the Vancouver Canucks in 9 starts (10 games total) with a 2.42 GAA and .920 save percentage. He lost 5-1 to the Canucks last season, with Brian Elliott in goal for the other game against Vancouver.
- Filip Kuba is still out, so team MVP and noted Norris Trophy candidate David Hale remains in for the permanently-scratched Brian Lee. The Senators are 7-2 with Hale in the lineup. Will this trend continue?
- Keith Ballard, obtained in a significant draft day trade, will be a healthy scratch for the second-consecutive game. Former Senator Peter Schaefer is also a healthy scratch.
- The Canucks are a conference-worst 2-4-1 on the road.
- What happens if the game goes into a shootout? Ottawa has yet to partake in one this season, while the Canucks are 0-2. Worse, Roberto Luongo has yet to make a save in the shootout, allowing five goals on five shots.
- The Canucks have the league's best power play at 27.3%. Scary.
- Ottawa has 5 goals from their defence in the last 4 games. Vancouver has 4 goals from their defence all season.
- Former Canuck Jarkko Ruutu has no points in 9 games. Linemates Chris Neil and Chris Kelly have combined for 3G and 3A during this stretch. Ruutu has never gone 10 games without a point while a Senator.
- Peter Regin hasn't scored a goal in his last 20 regular season games, and has only 5 in his last 44 regular season games. Can he break out of his funk?
- Finally, several Senators players have a history of poor performance versus the Canucks. Alex Kovalev (23GP, 4G 9A), Daniel Alfredsson (19GP, 4G 11A), Jason Spezza (7GP, 3G 0A), and Sergei Gonchar (14GP, 1G 4A) all have weak career numbers. This will need to change if the Senators hope to win.
As always, join us in the comments with your input, opinions, and general banter throughout the game