Game 1 - Ottawa Senators @ Winnipeg Jets

Bruce Bennett

The NHL is back so join us for all the fun in the Silver Seven Game Day Threads brought to you by Benylin - the official cough, cold and flu medication of Silver Seven Sens.

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The day is finally upon us. Led by Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza, the Ottawa Senators roll into Winnipeg to take on the Jets in the 2012-2013 2013 season opener. With the season starting three months later than originally planned, it is going to be a hectic schedule for all the clubs. Ottawa will play five games in a seven day span between 24 and 30 January.

However, for now it is the season opener. There was some discussion over the goaltending situation as well as the odd defenceman out. In the end, Craig Anderson will start, while interestingly Robin Lehner will be the backup. Mark Borowiecki will be the healthy scratch on defence.

Here are the forward lines and pairings:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Jakob Silfverberg
Guillaume Latendresse - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Peter Regin - Jim O'Brien - Erik Condra

Marc Méthot - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar
Patrick Wiercioch - André Benoit

Craig Anderson (starter)
Robin Lehner

Scatches - Kaspars Daugavins, Mark Borowiekci, Ben Bishop

Meanwhile, according to the good people at Arctic Ice Hockey, the Jets will likely counter with:

Ladd-Little-Wheeler
Kane-Jokinen-Wellwood
Ponikarovsky-Antropov-Burmistrov
Thorburn-Slater-Scheifele

Byfuglien-Enström
Hainsey-Stuart
Postma-Clitsome

Pavelec (starter)
Montoya

Here are somethings to look for today:

  • Defensive usage: Last season, Erik Karlsson had an offensive zone start percentage of 57.1% (discounting neutral zone starts) and 33 seconds of penalty kill time per game. With Jared Cowen out for the season, I would expect Karlsson's usage on the penalty kill to increase. It should be noted though, that Cowen's offensive zone start of 56.8% was nearly identical to that of Karlsson. Another thing to note is that while Karlsson had a high offensive zone start percentage, due to the sheer volume of his ice time, no player on Ottawa was on the ice for more defensive zone face-offs than Karlsson. It is hard to predict how Paul MacLean will use his defencemen. While Karlsson is certainly an above average defender, his strength will always be his offensive skill. The injuries might make it a little bit more difficult for MacLean to strategically use Karlsson in offensive situations.
  • Jakob Silfverberg's debut: Technically his debut was in the playoffs last season, but this will be the first NHL regular season game for Jacke (Yeck-eh). Unlike the playoff games, Silfverberg won't have just walked off a plane from Sweden and into a playoff game. He's had 29 points in 34 games in the AHL and looked very good. Starting the season with Spezza and Michalek, he is being given a fantastic opportunity to start his career. I for one can't wait to see him.
  • Wiercioch/Benoit pairing: If at the end of last season, you were told that this would be our bottom pairing, well...you wouldn't have thought it very likely. But due to the injuries to Cowen and Mike Lundin, the Sens will have to play a bottom pairing with a combined 16 NHL games of experience in their career. I wouldn't expect the two to play a lot on even strength, but hopefully they can hold their own.
  • Second line performance: The second line of Latendresse-Turris-Alfredsson is an interesting one to watch. Turris had a pretty good season in Ottawa and spent the entire summer working out in the city. Expectations are high for him this season. What kind of shape will Alfie be in this season? At age 40, will he have lost another step? Lastly, Latendresse is going to get the first crack at the second line winger position. If he can't produce, I wouldn't expect him to stay in the top six for too many games with Regin, Greening as well as several players in the AHL waiting.
  • Anderson's condition: This will be Anderson's first competitive game in nine months. While this is true for many players, the Senators do have the option of going to two goaltenders that have been playing. Does the choice of Lehner instead of Bishop as backup mean anything?
  • Mark's pump up song: What will it be?
There are no season stats for you to ignore today, as this is the first game of the season. We will have some starting with the home opener against Florida.

For now, join us for all the fun of Ottawa Senators hockey!
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