Game 3 Preview: Senators @ Panthers

This is Peter Regin. He's been good so far. - USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators look for their third straight win to start the season tonight in Florida.

With the temperature in Ottawa -32C at the time of writing, the weak minded on the Senators roster might be happy to be in Miami where it is currently 21C. Others could be looking forward to another game against a club that they dominated three nights ago in a 4-0 win. The Panthers followed that up by losing 4-1 in Montréal the following night. It would be easy to assume a win tonight, but random things happen in hockey, where better teams lose to worse ones. Deep thoughts by yours truly aren't they? Still, this is a Panthers club that won the division with a -24 goal difference last year and didn't get any better this year.

The only change for tonight is that Peter Regin will move to centre and Jim O'Brien will be on the wing. Otherwise same lines, pairings and starting goaltender for the third straight game. Here they are:

Michalek-Spezza-Silfverberg
Latendresse-Turris-Alfredsson
Greening-Smith-Neil
O'Brien-Regin-Condra

Méthot-Karlsson
Phillips-Gonchar
Wiercioch-Benoît

Anderson (starter)
Bishop

Sylvain St-Laurent has the Panthers forwards and defence as:

Fleischmann-Weiss-Kovalev
Kopecky-Mueller-Huberdeau
Upshall-Matthias-Shore
Skille-Smithson-Parros

Kuba-Campbell
Jovanovski-Ellerby
Kulikov-Weaver

Theodore (starter)
Clemmensen

Here are some notes for tonight:

  • Get the first line going: While Jakob Silfverberg scored a goal late in the last game, the Senators top line didn't create too many chances for the second straight game. Ottawa's top line has still scored two goals, but there is room for a lot of improvement.
  • Start of a brutal stretch: After tonight's game, Ottawa play away to the Lightning on Friday, then return home to play the Penguins on Sunday night. Next week they will host the Capitals on Tuesday and Canadiens on Wednesday. Players should be okay tonight, but by the end of this stretch, Paul MacLean might have to start resting players, especially the older ones like Daniel Alfredsson.
  • Solid play of Craig Anderson: He started the season with a period that had me cringing, but since then he has played five periods without allowing a goal. The schedule has worked out for Ottawa in this sense, allowing the team, especially Anderson, to get some games in before playing the stronger teams.
It's only been two games, but from Behind The Net here are the zone starts (ignoring neutral zone starts) for Ottawa's defencemen:

Player Offensive zone Defensive zone
Patrick Wiercioch 56% 44%
Andre Benoit 56% 44%
Marc Methot 48% 52%
Erik Karlsson 48% 52%
Chris Phillips 48% 52%
Sergei Gonchar 48% 52%

From this, the top four among the defencemen have the exact same offensive zone start at 48%. Nothing particularly interesting here.

For the forwards:

Player Offensive zone Defensive zone
Erik Condra 17% 83%
Peter Regin 23% 77%
Jim O'Brien 17% 83%
Chris Neil 43% 57%
Zack Smith 38% 63%
Colin Greening 44% 56%
Milan Michalek 73% 27%
Jason Spezza 73% 27%
Daniel Alfredsson 58% 42%
Jakob Silfverberg 71% 29%
Kyle Turris 56% 44%
Guillaume Latendresse 56% 44%

The top line is starting in the offensive zone over 70% of the time and still hasn't been a threat in the first two games.

The line of O'Brien-Regin-Condra has started quite often in the defensive zone and yet they have by far the best possession numbers on the club, outshooting the opposition by over 40 shots per 60 minutes. However, they have under 20 minutes of even strength ice time, so that per 60 minutes number is stretched, to say the least. In any case, Paul MacLean has trusted that line for defensive zone face-offs. Once more data is available, we will have the possession numbers for all the players.

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