Game 4 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Tampa Bay Lightning

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

A preview of the Senators game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on 25 January 2013.

It's Friday, Friday! Got to watch Sens game on Friday! With the formalities out of the way, let's get to the preview. The Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators (suck it Pittsburgh!) roll into Tampa Bay tonight looking to make it a perfect 4-for-4 start to the season. Ottawa won 3-1 in Florida last night in a game that wasn't really as close as the score suggests. The Lightning are coming off a 4-1 win in Carolina on Tuesday.

A few changes for tonight's game according to Ian Mendes. Mark Borowiecki will come in to play with Andre Benoit while Patrick Wiercioch will be a healthy scratch. Guillaume Latendresse also has a minor injury and will be replaced by Kaspars Daugavins. Ben Bishop will get the start. Peter Regin is a good guess to take Latendresse's spot on the top line. Here's how the lines might look:

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

Méthot-Karlsson
Phillips-Gonchar
Borowiecki-Benoît

Bishop (starter)
Anderson

According to John Fontana of Raw Charge, the Lightning will go with 11 forwards and 7 defencemen. The projected lineup is:

Conacher-Stamkos-St. Louis
Pyatt-Lecavalier-Purcell
Malone-Thompson-Pouliot
Hall-Crombeen

Carle-Brewer
Hedman-Salo
Lee-Aulie
Bergeron

Lindback (starter)
Garon

If you're questioning the lineup changes on an undefeated team, user The Dutch Treat has a soothing salve for your worried bones:

Trustache_medium

Here are some notes for tonight:

  • Playing a rested team: Last night, there were four games in which a team was playing the second game of a back-to-back against a club that didn't play the night before. The rested club won all four games. This isn't going to happen every time, but obviously it is preferable to be rested, especially as the season wears on.
  • Bottom six dominating: Scott over at The 6th Sens tracked scoring chances and it was complete domination by the bottom six for Ottawa. Zack Smith and Peter Regin's lines were 5-0 in even strength scoring chances, for a total of 10-0 by Ottawa's bottom two lines. Ottawa was 22-12 overall on even strength chances, so the top two lines were only even. Regin would be a good bet to be bumped up to the second line tonight.
  • Missed chances: Keeping with the theme, Colin Greening and Smith had numerous high quality chances to score. Smith managed to miss the net while completely alone in front of the net, and Greening couldn't convert either on a couple of great chances. Chris Neil wasn't as noticeable as the rest of his linemates, but for all of Ottawa's bottom six domination, they couldn't score.
  • Improved second pair: Chris Phillips and especially Sergei Gonchar had a strong game, with Gonchar being on for eight Ottawa scoring chances and two by Florida.
  • Toughest test: Ottawa's won three games against relatively easy competition, although Winnipeg has done well since the loss to Ottawa. Tonight will be a good test of Ottawa's defence as they play a Lightning club that has scored 13 goals in three games. Only one of those 13 was scored by Steven Stamkos, but he does have four assists.
  • Dominant Karlsson: Karlsson was superb in every facet of the game yesterday. For the third consecutive game, Karlsson had at least four shots on net and now has 14 on the year. His shot on the winning goal was a thing of beauty. He's Ottawa's best player right now.
  • Strong goaltending: When you have allowed two goals in three games, you probably have had quality goaltending. With Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh coming up, the goaltending is going to face a stern test against much better teams than those they have previously played. Ben Bishop isn't going to get a chance to ease into it like Anderson did, so hopefully he is up for the challenge.
  • Spezza on face-offs: One thing Spezza has improved in the last two games are face-offs. He won 32 out of 45 face-offs in the two games against Florida, after winning only eight out of 20 against Winnipeg. He's over 61% after three games.
Here are the zone starts again from Behind The Net.

Player Offensive zone Defensive zone
Erik Karlsson 50% 50%
Marc Methot 50% 50%
Andre Benoit 60% 40%
Chris Phillips 50% 50%
Sergei Gonchar 50% 50%
Patrick Wiercioch 60% 40%

These numbers for the defencemen are remarkably rounded. It is almost like Paul MacLean is keeping count.

Player Offensive zone Defensive zone
Jason Spezza 70% 30%
Jakob Silfverberg 69% 31%
Milan Michalek 70% 30%
Colin Greening 46% 54%
Zack Smith 42% 58%
Chris Neil 46% 54%
Peter Regin 29% 71%
Jim O'Brien 23% 77%
Guillaume Latendresse 55% 45%
Kyle Turris 55% 45%
Daniel Alfredsson 56% 44%
Erik Condra 23% 77%

Calling Jason Spezza, come back home please. He's certainly getting his opportunities to create offence. Will tonight be the night?
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