Live from California, Jason Spezza's groin takes on the San Jose Sharks tonight.
Seriously, has there been anything else of greater concern this season now that Bobby Ryan is on a point-per-game pace? Anyway, the Senators have earned a point in every game they've played so far, capturing four of a possible six, and in their last game rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to earn a point against the Los Angeles Kings in a game the advanced stats said they had no part even sticking around in.
The going does not get any easier tonight, as the team goes into the Shark Tank to take on the darlings of the first week, the Sharks. San Jose is undefeated in 4 games and has a ridiculous 21 goals for in that span, while allowing just 5 against. Their GF is tops in the league (no other team even has 20) and only the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues have better GA numbers--and the Blues have played one fewer game. Yikes.
The Citizen's Ken Warren reports that Robin Lehner gets the start tonight, and that Spezza will play, so here are your expected lines:
Via our friends at Fear The Fin, the Sharks are expected to look something like this:
Some thoughts for tonight:
- The Sharks look ridiculously good. A regulation loss for the Senators tonight is not out of the question, and would probably be the perfect excuse for the fringe panickers to finally cut loose and really start questioning this team.
- Joe Corvo suffered a "facial injury" in practice today and is a game-time decision. Eric Gryba will play if Corvo can't go... but if Corvo can't go with a "facial injury," he's not a hockey player.
- Hey, have you heard about this Tomas Hertl kid? He had 4 of San Jose's 9 goals in a 9-2 win over the New York Rangers. His last goal was absolutely gorgeous, and he's not Canadian, so you know he's a showboater who doesn't respect the game. The controversy over the goal is flat-out stupid, but got us this awesome quote from Sharks captain Joe Thornton:
"Shut up, have you ever played the game?" When the press turned his way, he then added: "I’d have my cock out if I scored four goals. I’d have my cock out, stroking it."
While I hope he doesn't score four goals tonight, Thornton is absolutely right. Hertl is an exciting young player, and we should all be excited about his joy and skill. It's a game, after all.
- Couture-Thornton-Pavelski can go toe-to-toe with Spezza-Turris-Pageau every day of the week. If there were ever a game where Erik Karlsson needed to make a difference, it's this one.
- Speaking of making a difference, Jean-Gabriel Pageau paired with Colin Greening and Erik Condra were the Senators' best line against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs last year. They haven't been as good this year. This is a game where both teams have heavyweights capable of throwing bombs, so this is that line's best opportunity to recreate that magic from last year.
- San Jose's PP: 22%. Ottawa's PK: 75%
- Ottawa's PP: 12.5% San Jose's PK: 81.8%
- So, the Senators have no chance if they continue their parade to the penalty box.
- San Jose is 1st in the league with 40.5 shots per game. Ottawa is second with 35.7. San Jose is allowing 22.8, while Ottawa is allowing 36.3.
- This game is a huge measuring stick for the Senators. It's easily the most firepower they've faced so far. They have the talent to win, but they need to play a complete game in all phases--something they haven't yet done this year--to have a real shot at pulling it off. Buckle up. This one should be a barn-burner.