Game 6 preview: Ottawa Senators @ Phoenix Coyotes

Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and Phoenix Coyotes on 15 October 2013.

The Ottawa Senators will look to end a disappointing Western American swing with a win when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes tonight. After opening the season with a win in Buffalo, Ottawa lost in a shootout in Toronto and then in overtime in Los Angeles. Ottawa earned no points in consecutive losses in San Jose and Anaheim.

Tonight will mark Kyle Turris' first second game back in Phoenix since he was traded to Ottawa for David Rundblad and a second round pick. Turris is likely Ottawa's best centre at the moment while Rundblad will be a healthy scratch for the fourth consecutive game despite a decent start to the season. It's only been two seasons but the trade is sure looking like a win for Ottawa right now. Yours truly if you might recall, thought this was a horrible trade for the Senators. Hey, I am happy to be wrong so far. This team would have been in a bad place without Turris last season.

Here are the lines and pairings courtesy of the Ottawa Senators.

Ottawa

Michalek - Spezza - Ryan
MacArthur - Turris - Conacher
Greening - Smith - Neil
Kassian - Pageau - Condra

Methot - Karlsson
Cowen - Wiercioch
Phillips - Gryba

Anderson (starter)
Lehner

Phoenix

Klinkhammer - Vermette - Doan
Boedker - Hanzal - Vrbata
Korpikoski - Ribeiro - Moss
Chipchura - Kennedy - Bissonnette

Ekman-Larsson - Michalek
Morris - Yandle
Schlemko - Stone

Smith (starter)
Greiss

Some notes for tonight:

  • The Coyotes are coming off a five game road trip. After getting blown away in San Jose and Long Island, the Coyotes finished with three straight wins in Detroit, Philadelphia and Carolina.
  • Despite two incredible performances by Robin Lehner, it appears Craig Anderson will start for Ottawa.
  • The difference between Lehner and Anderson so far has been in the difficult situations. The two have near identical even strength save percentages (94% for Anderson and 93.7% for Lehner). While shorthanded, Anderson has saved 77.8% of the shots while Lehner has saved an incredible 97.1% of shorthanded shots. In fact, 35% (34 out of 97) of the shots Lehner has faced have been while shorthanded.
  • Anderson has been able to make the saves he should make, but hasn't fared as well as Lehner in the more difficult scoring chances. One key to stopping that would be to limit the penalty kill time. Lehner has faced over 20 minutes of penalty kill time in under 2 games.
  • Bobby Ryan will return to play with Jason Spezza tonight. With a day off yesterday, will Spezza return to form? How hurt is he right now if at all?
  • The Senators second pairing has been a complete and utter failure so far. Among players with at least 50 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, Jared Cowen has allowed the second most shot attempts per minute in the entire NHL while Patrick Wiercioch has allowed the third most. In case you are wondering, Jason Spezza is first.
  • Which brings me to the next comment. As non-elite as Erik Karlsson has been, he has likely sadly been Ottawa's best defenceman so far. Just being average or slightly above average is not nearly good enough for Karlsson. Ottawa is going to need a lot more from Karlsson right now, because the second pairing is a disaster and Karlsson's partner is not a #1 pairing defenceman in his own right.
  • Matt Kassian will tell jokes on the bench tonight. Cool. Kassian is currently in a race with Chicago's Brandon Bollig for the most career games without an assist since the 1960s. Bollig is at 48, while Kassian is at 45. the all-time record is 67 games by Milt Halliday between 1927 and 1929.

Here are some stats leaders for the two teams tonight.

Category Ottawa Phoenix
Player # Player #
Goals Bobby Ryan 3 Radim Vrbata 3
Assists Kyle Turris 4 Martin Hanzal 4
Points Bobby Ryan 5 Radim Vrbata 5
Shots Bobby Ryan 16 Radim Vrbata 25
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 26:51 Oliver Ekman-Larsson 24:08

Category Ottawa Phoenix
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.20 23rd 2.83 13th
Goals Against 2.83 19th 2.83 19th
Corsi Close % 50.9% 13th 55.7% 6th
Fenwick Close % 47.2% 20th 59.0% 6th
Shots For 32.2 7th 31.7 11th
Shots Against 43.0 30th 34.0 24th

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