Game 6 preview: Capitals @ Senators

Mika Zibanejad shown here in the future Ottawa Senators jersey. - Richard Wolowicz

A preview of the Ottawa Senators game against the Washington Capitals on 29 January 2013.

The Ottawa Senators will have to try to end a two-game losing streak without the services of one very important player. Jason Spezza will not play tonight due to what is described as an upper body he suffered during the game against Pittsburgh on Sunday. The cause of this was likely a cheap hit by Sidney Crosby (this part may not be true). Aside from Spezza, Kaspars Daugavins and André Benoît will also be scratched. The trio will be replaced by Daniel Alfredsson, Patrick Wiercioch and the recently called up Mika Zibanejad.

Here are the lines from Bruce Garrioch:

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

Méthot-Karlsson
Gonchar-Borowiecki
Wiercioch-Phillips

Anderson (starter)
Bishop

Meanwhile, according to Katie Carrera the Capitals will counter with:

Ovechkin-Beagle-Crabb
Wolski-Backstrom-Brouwer
Chimera-Ribeiro-Ward
Hendricks-Perreault-Fehr

Alzner-Green
Erskine-Carlson
Schultz-Kundratek

Neuvirth (starter)
Holtby

Here are some notes for tonight:

  • Can Turris step up: Kyle Turris has had a fantastic start to the season but without Spezza in the lineup, he will face tougher competition than he usually does. Is 73-7-11 considered the #1 line for tonight? I feel Erik Karlsson is the most important player for Ottawa, but Spezza would be a close second. Hopefully his injury isn't too serious and Turris can keep it up.
  • Zibanejad makes season debut: Thanks to injuries in the NHL and possibly due to even those in the AHL, Mika Zibanejad will play tonight, and it will be at centre at least to start with. What can we expect from him tonight? He did start playing better in the AHL once he returned from injury.
  • Matching the Capitals lines: Yes Ovechkin is still playing with Beagle and Crabb. While it is a bit puzzling, it does make for some interesting decisions by Paul MacLean. Ovechkin only has one goal on the season, but he is still a big part of the game plan when playing Washington. However, with Crabb and Beagle on the line would you waste the Karlsson pairing against a line that is 2/3rds Crabb and Beagle? If I was the coach (and really why am I not?) I would put Karlsson against Backstrom and Gonchar against Ovechkin.
  • Alfie returns: While his return doesn't offset the loss of Spezza, it will be nice to have the captain back.
  • Can Anderson keep it going: You know when some guy said that Craig Anderson shouldn't be starting on opening night? Well, Anderson has gone on to stop 97.5% of shots since then. That is good.
Here are the zone starts for the defence from Behind the Net:

Player Offensive zone Defensive zone
Mark Borowiecki 75.0% 25.0%
Andre Benoit 60.5% 39.5%
Patrick Wiercioch 60.0% 40.0%
Erik Karlsson 57.5% 42.5%
Marc Methot 56.9% 43.1%
Chris Phillips 49.2% 50.8%
Sergei Gonchar 47.9% 52.1%

Again, like last season, seems like Gonchar and Phillips are taking the defensive zone draws, at least as a percentage. Mark Borowiecki is understandably being protected in 5-on-5 situations. The forwards stats are:

Player Offensive zone Defensive zone
Kaspars Daugavins 44.4% 55.6%
Jakob Silfverberg 52.6% 47.4%
Jason Spezza 47.1% 52.9%
Milan Michalek 50.0% 50.0%
Kyle Turris 50.0% 50.0%
Guillaume Latendresse 44.8% 55.2%
Daniel Alfredsson 47.4% 52.6%
Colin Greening 53.5% 46.5%
Chris Neil 55.9% 44.1%
Zack Smith 56.5% 43.5%
Peter Regin 38.5% 61.5%
Erik Condra 36.7% 63.3%
Jim O'Brien 30.8% 69.2%

Peter Regin is going to see a lot more offensive situations than he has been so far this season. Can he take advantage of this tonight?
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