After a strong first period, a disastrous second period, the Ottawa Senators finished strongly in the third period against a good Detroit Red Wings team. Tonight, the competition gets a little easier, but will the result be different?
In the first installment of the Ontario Derby (yeah I am going to start calling it that), the Senators take on the Maple Leafs in Toronto tonight on Hockey Night in Canada. The Leafs didn't look that great against Montreal in the first period, but James Reimer was superb and kept them in it until the rest of the team woke up.
The only change tonight is that Bobby Butler is a healthy scratch and Zenon Konopka is in. The defence remains unchanged from last night, which means David Rundblad will be a healthy scratch again on his 21st birthday.
Here are tonight's projected lines courtesy of Scott MacArthur. He also mentioned that Daniel Alfredsson has a 'nasty head cold' but will play:
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Nikita Filatov
Colin Greening - Mika Zibanejad - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Stéphane Da Costa - Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Brian Lee
Craig Anderson (starter)
Here are the talking points for tonight:
- Improvement needed from the defence: Sergei Gonchar, Chris Phillips, Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowen all were directly responsible for the goals that made it a 4-0 Detroit lead. Brian Lee and Filip Kuba did all right but the Senators are going to need a much improved effort from every defencemen.
- First line scoring: Great game for Milan Michalek last night. Not only did he score two goals, but he also set up Jason Spezza for a couple of glorious chances. Spezza for his part, made the Red Wings look pretty ordinary on the 5-2 goal. Nikita Filatov wasn't as involved as the other two, but all in all, a good showing for the top line. Can they keep this up tonight? The Senators are going to need this line to come up big all season.
- Stéphane Da Costa: He missed the last few pre-season games with an injury but he looked great last night. He has great vision and had more than one clever take away, although the stats only credited him with one. Nevertheless, he made a lot of nice plays. After a subdued performance by Mika Zibanejad, Da Costa has the chance to make a strong push for the second line spot.
- Line juggling: By the third period, Da Costa was playing Alfredsson and Foligno while Zibanejad was with Greening and Neil. As Paul MacLean continues to get to know his players, we can expect a lot of line changes.
- Alfredsson's play: It can't be easy playing professional hockey while you have a head cold, so I wouldn't be surprised if he has a quiet game. On the other hand, it's Alfie, so you never know.
- Gooning it up: Given the Chris Neil hit on Mikhail Grabovski in the pre-season, Zenon Konopka's likely insertion into the team, and the Leafs playing Colton Orr, sadly there is a good chance of seeing a fight or two in this game.
- Butler scratched: How far has this guy fallen from the start of camp? He was projected as playing with Jason Spezza on the first line at the start of camp and now he is already scratched in game two. Is The Bustler a bust? I kid, I kid.
For the Maple Leafs view including their lineup, check out the game preview by Pension Plan Puppets.
The Senators and Maple Leafs are compared by the numbers after the jump.
Here are the 2011-2012 comparative stats for the Senators and Maple Leafs: