Game 13 preview: Buffalo Sabres @ Ottawa Senators

This dude wearing #65 will be mentioned a lot today. - Francois Laplante/Freestyle Phot

A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres on 12 February 2013.

Erik Karlsson will lead the rest of the Ottawa Senators and their ragtag band of misfits into action when they host the Buffalo Sabres tonight. The two clubs met in Ottawa last week and the Senators hung on for a 4-3 win in a game that they led 4-1 at one point. As today is the 13th game of the season, it will be the first game that #13 Peter Regin misses through injury. He's been placed on injured reserve retroactive to Saturday, meaning he will miss the rest of the week as a minimum. The only healthy scratch will be André Benoit.

Here are the lines from the morning skate courtesy of Nicolas St-Pierre.

Michalek - Zibanejad - Alfredsson
Greening - Turris - Silfverberg
Daugavins - Da Costa - O'Brien
Condra - Smith - Neil

Méthot - Karlsson
Gonchar - Lundin
Phillips - Wiercioch

Anderson (starter)
Bishop

Some notes for tonight:

  • Without Jason Spezza, the Senators are not a very good team when Erik Karlsson isn't being awesome. Hopefully he is tonight.
  • Thomas Vanek has 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points and 45 shots in the 11 games he has played this season that weren't against Ottawa. In the one game against Ottawa? He had zero points and one shot. He faced Karlsson (and Methot) for 94% of his ice time. (Thanks to LeftWingLock for this great feature).
  • Continuing with match-ups: the Turris line was against Foligno-Ennis-Stafford in that game almost 55% of the time. Against the Jets however, MacLean didn't choose to match-up often and Turris wasn't out against any one line more than a third of the time.
  • The Senators haven't lost a single game by more than one goal aside from the 6-4 loss in Tampa Bay that included an empty net goal.
  • Thanks to Karlsson, this team will be a dominant possession team, simply because when he is on the ice, the Senators generally have the puck and Karlsson tends to shoot the puck. A lot. He plays half the game, so there is that. Ottawa is currently the fourth best possession team so far by Fenwick close, behind only the Kings, Blues and Bruins. Ottawa is currently shooting only 6.57% with Karlsson on the ice, so expect his point totals to rise from their current levels.
  • And yet more on Karlsson's importance from The 6th Sens: the Senators have 153 even-strength scoring chances and allowed 135. With Karlsson on it is 76-51 (+25) and with Karlsson off it is 77-84 (-7).
For today, here are some numbers on the percentage of ice time a player has with their most common partner/linemates.

Defencemen

NAME LM 1 LM1 TOI%
Karlsson Methot 83.5
Methot Karlsson 93.5
Phillips Gonchar 34.9
Gonchar Phillips 40.4
Benoit Wiercioch 51.2
Wiercioch Benoit 57.8
Borowiecki Phillips 46.4
Lundin Gonchar 87.9

Forwards

NAME LM 1 LM1 TOI% LM 2 LM2 TOI%
Michalek Silfverberg 57.3 Karlsson 53.5
Turris Alfredsson 73 Karlsson 46.6
Smith Neil 61.9 Greening 54.3
Silfverberg Michalek 61.7 Karlsson 52.5
Greening Neil 67.5 Smith 56.6
Alfredsson Turris 83.9 Karlsson 47.8
Neil Greening 73.3 Smith 70
Condra O'Brien 58.8 Karlsson 39.4
Regin Karlsson 39.7 Methot 36.2
O'Brien Condra 75.6 Phillips 36.3
Zibanejad Turris 44.3 Alfredsson 43.9
Spezza Michalek 92.8 Silfverberg 66.9
Latendresse Turris 69 Alfredsson 51.4
Daugavins Karlsson 42.3 Methot 40.3
Da Costa Condra 59.2 O'Brien 51.7

Two things here: MacLean likes to play Karlsson with the fourth line a lot with him being the most common teammate for Regin and Daugavins. Also, Karlsson is one of the two most common teammates for 7/15 forwards. Does this mean a lot of line shifting or simply a lot of the little guy?
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