The Pittsburgh Penguins have a history of seriously injuring the Ottawa Senators stars. In 2009-2010, Kris Letang hit Jason Spezza from behind, taking him out for five weeks and effectively ending the Senators season. Earlier this season, Spezza hurt his back after a game against the Penguins this season and hasn't played again this season, although there was no foul play in that. In the second game, there was the infamous Matt Cooke incident with Erik Karlsson.
The Penguins will be leaving a good part of their douchebag contingent at home tonight. The ringleader Sidney Crosby is still out a broken jaw while Evgeni Malkin (he of the sunburn), James Neal and Paul Martin are also hurt. Kris Letang is ill and Marc-Andre Fleury's wife is close to giving birth. With that much talent missing, and the Penguins have already clinched the first seed, this game should be there for the taking for Ottawa.
There has been some confusion but as of now there will be no changes to the lineup for Ottawa, Guillaume Latendresse was reported to be playing, then Matt Kassian, then Latendresse again. As of right now, it appears Kassian will play. Here are the lines:
Michalek - Turris - Alfredsson
Conacher - Zibanejad - Silfverberg
Greening - Pageau - Condra
Kassian - Smith - Neil
Phillips - Methot
Wiercioch - Gonchar
Cowen - Gryba
Some things for tonight:
- The Pens are missing two players of generational talent, a superstar defenceman, another defenceman, an eighteen goal scorer and their starting goaltender. They have clinched the first seed in the east as well. Ottawa should win this game at home if they stay away from shenanigans.
- Having said that, will the Sens do something stupid and hunt Matt Cooke around all night?
- If the Sens can win tonight, they will clinch a playoff spot if the Jets lose in regulation tonight in Buffalo. The Jets also play in Washington tomorrow.
- Since returning from injury, Craig Anderson has had a save percentage under 90% in three out of six games. He still has a 91.9 save percentage since his return, which is merely above average instead of insane. I'll take 91.9 with a smile.
- If the Senators don't want to play the Penguins in the first round, they are going to have to win probably three of the last four games, although two will give them a better than a 50-50 chance of avoiding Pittsburgh.
- Jakob Silfverberg got on track a little bit with a goal and five shots. He hadn't scored in 11 games before that. He has now played 78 competitive games this season.
- Depending on whether the NHL goes by goals allowed in the standings (i.e. counting a shootout loss as one goal against) or simply goals allowed in play, the Senators are either two or three goals behind Chicago for the Jennings Trophy race.
- The Penguins have the best record in the NHL in one-goal games at 13-1-0. Are they winning a lot of coin flips or are they "clutch"?
- Matt Kassian has 19 shots on goal and 3 goals in his NHL career. That gives him a better career shooting percentage than Alexander Ovechkin. Elite shot.
- Kassian might get revenge on Cooke in an unusual manner.
- Just win tonight guys. You know how most fans really really hate losing to Toronto? It is Pittsburgh for me. I hate this team so much.