The Ottawa Senators continue their brutal schedule by playing their third consecutive game against a team that played the night before and had to travel to the game. The task of winning is made even tougher by the fact that they are not playing a goaltender making his first career NHL start unlike the last two games. With that out of the way, the Senators will visit the Chicago Blackhawks tonight hoping to avoid a third consecutive regulation loss.
Ottawa will make one change with fit again Clarke MacArthur returning and Jean-Gabriel Pageau a healthy scratch. Craig Anderson will start again. Here are the Senators lines from Wayne Scanlan.
Michalek - Spezza - Ryan
MacArthur - Turris - Zibanejad
Conacher - Smith - Neil
Greening - Grant - Condra
Méthot - Karlsson
Phillips - Wiercioch
Cowen - Corvo
Sharp - Toews - Hossa
Saad - Pirri - Kane
Bickell - Shaw - Morin
Bollig - Kruger - Mills
Keith - Seabrook
Hjalmarsson - Oduya
Leddy - Brookbank
Some notes for tonight:
- Mika Zibanejad will play a full game in the top six today. After apparently being beat by Stéphane Da Costa in training camp, Zibanejad has played his way onto the top six after just three games.
- Eric Gryba will sit tonight for the second straight game. Will the bottom two pairings stop being a horror show at some point in the near future?
- Erik Karlsson is coming off an amazing game, with two points, nine shots and over two thirds of the shot attempts with him on the ice. What does he have for an encore tonight? He did make one very costly mistake though.
- Karlsson is on pace for 75 points while getting 55% of the shot attempts against the opposition's top lines for over 27 minutes a night. If we are still expecting more from him and pointing out every mistake, I guess the question is, what are you expecting? Mistake free hockey despite plenty of offensive creativity?
- It is early, but Bobby Ryan has fared a lot better with Kyle Turris than with Jason Spezza so far. He will get another chance to gel with Spezza tonight. Spezza's line has been under 50% in shot attempts so far this season regardless of who is on his line.
- Spezza, of course, is on pace for even more points than Karlsson, but the problem there is that he is spending more time in his own zone defending. He hasn't always had the most ideal linemates, but then again Marc Methot isn't exactly a number one pairing defenceman either. This is why I think the criticism of Spezza is a lot more valid than Karlsson so far.
- Craig Anderson will start again and Robin Lehner hasn't played since the 2-1 loss to the Oilers. Instead of last year's elite numbers, Anderson is merely saving an above average 92% of shots so far.