Game 42 preview: Carolina Hurricanes @ Ottawa Senators

Gonchar wants to win. Do you? - USA TODAY Sports

A preview of the game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators on 16 April 2013.

First of all, I just want to confirm that the Senators are indeed playing the Carolina Hurricanes and not the Carolina Panthers as some stupid person may have previously reported. With that out of the way, the Senators will play their first home game since losing 4-0 to the Maple Leafs 17 days ago.

The big news is that Jared Cowen will make his season debut tonight against the Hurricanes. Matt Kassian was set to play against the Bruins, but with that game cancelled, he will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Here are the lines and pairings from Sylvain St-Laurent.

Michalek - Turris - Alfredsson
Conacher - Zibanejad - Silfverberg
Latendresse - Smith - Neil
Greening - Pageau - Condra

Phillips - Méthot
Cowen - Gryba
Wiercicoh - Gonchar

Anderson (starter)
Lehner

Healthy scratches: Regin, O'Brien, Kassian, Lundin, Benoît

Some notes for tonight:

  • Things could have turned out much worse for Jared Cowen. What a 24 hours it has been for him and all of his teammates. What can we expect from Cowen in his first hockey game in six months?
  • We now have a quality player on all defensive pairings. Do I dare dream of Karlsson returning and having a top four of Methot-Karlsson and Gonchar-Cowen? Come back Erik, come back.
  • With no goons on Carolina, Kassian will be a scratch again. Guillaume Latendresse knows that he will likely be the first person in line to be scratched against the next goon filled opponent (likely Saturday against Toronto). He has two games to improve.
  • The suddenly healing Senators are now carrying 25 players. The only player with a two-way contract is Benoît and he had previously been told by the club he is staying in Ottawa for the season.
  • The Senators have lost both games to Carolina this season. The first was having Dan Ellis problems in a 1-0 loss and the second was a 3-2 overtime loss in a game that Ottawa outshot Carolina 47-26.
  • While the Southeast division isn't very good, that hasn't helped Ottawa much. They have a 6-5-1 record against the Southeast division.
  • Carolina is first in the NHL with 32.8 shots per game, Ottawa's 32.4 is second. The Senators' 32.2 shots allowed per game is third last while the Hurricanes have allowed 31.6, which is sixth last. Expect a lot of shots tonight.
And some Corsi, zone start and competition stats for tonight:

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Relative Off Zone Start %
Turris 14.85 0.603 -3.6 52.5
Alfredsson 14.11 0.172 4.2 54.1
Michalek 14 -0.107 5.6 62.1
Smith 13.87 0.959 -2.2 48.5
Latendresse 13.22 0.874 -1.9 54.8
Silfverberg 13.12 0.549 0.7 60.5
Greening 12.8 0.518 -0.1 53.7
Neil 12.62 0.889 0.9 48.5
Conacher 11.95 0.362 0.3 56.4
Zibanejad 11.19 0.051 5.6 64.3
Condra 10.81 -0.147 8.8 52.7
Pageau 10.6 3.728 12.6 23.1

Well we know Kyle Turris isn't ready to be a first line centre yet, but in a year or two he might have a fight from Mika Zibanejad for the #2 centre position. Zibanejad is being shielded right now, so it will be interesting to see how he develops.

Also, just look at Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He has faced really stiff competition (most frequent opposition line was Gagne-Giroux-Voracek and Clarkson-Zubrus-Henrique). He has started in the offensive zone only 23% of the time. Despite all this, he has more than held his own. It's only been 21 minutes of ice time, but still very encouraging isn't it?

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Relative Off Zone Start %
Methot 18.27 1.137 -4 51.1
Gryba 18.01 1.508 -17.8 48.3
Gonchar 17.12 0.229 -3.4 54
Phillips 16.1 0.4 -4.9 51.8
Wiercioch 12.72 -0.728 13.6 60.8
Cowen N/A N/A N/A N/A

Now with Cowen back, hopefully we can begin to reduce Eric Gryba's ice time and the guys he plays against. This team is starting to look better and better with some of the players returning.
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