Ever the optimist (and Alex Ovechkin supporter )))))) Adnan fired out this tweet this morning:
If Ovi is playing against Phillips tonight, I set the over/under on shots at 6.5, how do you pick?— Adnan (@sens_adnan) April 18, 2013
While it is a (semi) joking question, the fact is that the Senators play the Capitals twice down the stretch (at home tonight, away next week) and if the playoffs were to start today (my least favourite phrase) the two teams would meet in round 1. If the Sens are to be successful in these games, there is no question that the number one issue is finding a way to shut down Ovechkin and his partners in crime: Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green.
Ovechkin is on a wild streak the likes of which I can't remember in recent memory. He has scored 19 goals in his last 18 games, which is insanity. Not unrelated, the Capitals seem to have forgotten how to lose in that time period and seem to have returned to the high flying ways of the Capitals of seasons past.
So how will the Sens stop them? One huge advantage the Sens have over most teams in the league is of course Craig Anderson. As I wrote the other day, had he not gotten injured he would have been THE lock for the Vezina trophy. He cannot, however, be expected to tackle this task alone.
On the back end, it should be interesting to see who Paulrus sends out against Ovi, especially with last change. Will it be Methot-Phillips? Methot has shown an ability to play against top talent, but Phillips, while still effective in the right situation, is not what he was when we used to send him and Anton Volchenkov against Ovi. So does Mac use Cowen-Gryba? Cowen is big, strong and a good skater. One day very soon he will be a player teams need to fear, but he's on just his second game back and is in just his second year. Gryba is a rookie who has played tough minutes this season, but does not have the speed to keep up with that line.
Up front, in recent years Zack Smith has drawn these types of assignments, but his current linemates (Chris Neil and Guillaume Latendresse) aren't exactly shut down forwards. The best line defensively would be Condra-Pageau-Greening, but its scary to think about Pageau going up against that line in his 4th NHL game even considering how well he has played.
In the end, I Trustache, but with the streak Ovechkin has been on, and his past against the Sens, I'm apprehensive going into tonight.
- The team talking about the challenge of the Caps. [Gordon]
- Didn't get a chance to link this yet, but I'm considering proposing to Amelia after her Senators-Star Wars mashup. Just don't tell her yet, I'm shy. [SSS]
- Scoring chances from that game highlight what a great game the top two lines had. [6thSens]
- Bobby with a post full of prospect
pornupdates! First rounders flooding upstate New York. Side note: Blobby has a gift for making his posts concise yet informative while keeping them funny. Keep on being better than me Boob! [SSS]
- Big non-injury news this week is the announcement(?) that the Senators could face the Canucks in an outdoor game next year. Thoughts? It misses my March break (as a teacher, I'm not going back to high school) by a week so I'm a little sour. [6thSens]
- Why are more people not talking about the job Bryan Murray did at the deadline? A top line winger, a top pairing offenseman and a beast of a top 4 d-man all added down the stretch!? But seriously, the team is getting healthy at the perfect time. [SE]
- Transcript from practice Wednesday when Bryan talked about the potential return of Erik Karlsson. [SE]
- For you advanced stats lovers, a cool graphical (Classic looking at you!) look at the Corsi difference between the Sens, Bruins and Maple Leafs. [McKeens]
- A Sens-themed grab bag from Varada. [WTYKY]
- Lastly, the prediction panel is split between those who like the home team and those terrified of the explosive Capitals. [PP]