Game 17: Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres - #11 returns on 11-11-11

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Daniel Alfredsson makes his triumphant return to the lineup as the Ottawa Senators attempt to end a four-game losing streak. Alfredsson has missed the last five games adding to the one he missed in Carolina due to a hip injury. The Senators have gone 2-3-1 in six games without their captain, and his presence will definitely help the second line. The game also starts a tough stretch of six straight road games. After playing the seventh seeded Sabres, Ottawa plays the second seeded Maple Leafs. That is followed by a three game swing into western Canada, where they play the Flames, and then the division leading Oilers and the defending western conference champions, Vancouver. They end the road trip with a game in Pittsburgh who currently lead the eastern conference. Can the Senators win three, or even two games in this trip? A brutal road trip could leave them well back of the playoff race.

Alfredsson will replace Chris Neil who is out with an ankle injury. Here are the lines from Sylvain St-Laurent.

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno - Stéphane Da Costa - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Zenon Konopka - Jesse Winchester - Bobby Butler

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - David Rundblad
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar

Craig Anderson (starter)
Alex Auld

Talking points and statistics after the jump.

Here are tonight's talking points:

  • Mon capitan!: Definitely the biggest story line of the night, is that Daniel Alfredsson will return to the lineup. He hasn't always been at his best this season, but he's come up with the big plays when his team needed it. The two most noticeable examples were his late takeaways against Florida and Columbus. Alfie will come up big tonight and engage the enemy (then he will probably tug on his jersey). MAKE IT SO!
  • Will Karlsson score?: Erik Karlsson only has one goal on the season despite a team leading 55 shots. It's not like he is just floating them in from the point. Our special little guy has an absolute cannon. You have to think they are going to start going in for him. He hasn't been among the points recently, but he is still on pace for 72 points.
  • Limiting turnovers: The Senators largely played well defensively against the Rangers, but a few mental lapses resulting in brutal turnovers cost them the game. They didn't allow the Rangers too many shots.
  • Close games: The Senators and Sabres often play close games, going back as far as a decade. Add to that the fact that eight of the last nine Senators games have been one-goal games, and this has the potential to be a close one.
Here are the 2011-2012 comparative statistics for the Senators and the Sabres:

Category Ottawa Enemy - Buffalo
Value Rank Value Rank
Goals For per game 2.75 15th 2.93 10th
Goals Against per game 3.56 29th 2.36 6th
5 on 5 GF/GA ratio 0.64 30th 1.23 7th
Shots for per game 30.8 14th 31.9 10th
Shots against per game 30.2 16th 30.9 20th
Power play % 24.5 4th 20.4 9th
Penalty kill % 75.4 25th 92.0 2nd
Category Ottawa Enemy - Buffalo
Player Value Player Value
Points Jason Spezza 16 Thomas Vanek 18
Goals Milan Michalek 10 Thomas Vanek 10
Assists Erik Karlsson 13 Jason Pominville 12
PP Points Jason Spezza 7 Jason Pominville 8
Shots Erik Karlsson 55 Thomas Vanek 53
Hits Chris Neil 51 Robyn Regehr 38
Avg. Ice time Erik Karlsson 25:29 Christian Ehrhoff 23:46
Face-offs % Jesse Winchester 63.6 Paul Gaustad 58.5
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