It is the 24th game of the season tonight. My engineering degree tells me that this is halfway through the season, for all of you artsy types. The Senators haven't won on their current five game road trip, although they did pick up a couple of points along the way. The Leafs are coming off a 4-2 win over the Devils, leaving both Ontario clubs level on 28 points after 23 games.
Ottawa will welcome Milan Michalek to the lineup and Mark Stone will play his first NHL regular season game. The lines courtesy of Bruce Garrioch are as follows:
Michalek - Turris - Alfredsson
Stone - Regin - Silfverberg
Greening - Smith - Neil
Dziurzynski - Zibanejad - Condra
Methot - Gryba
Wiercioch - Gonchar
Phillips - Benoit
Yours truly will be in the 4th row behind the net the Senators attack in the first period. If the Senators do get a rush going, look out for the brown guy in the red Karlsson jersey. Otherwise wait for the second period.
Some notes for tonight:
- Mark Stone makes his NHL debut tonight. I am not sure what to expect, but with this team's current offence, it can't hurt to try him.
- I have ever seen a defenceman that takes so few chances, and yet screws up as often as Eric Gryba. I get that he is a rookie, but Gryba doesn't look like an NHL caliber player right now, much less one playing 20-25 minutes a night. Patrick Wiercioch screws up at times as well, but he does it while trying to create some offence. Gryba...I really don't get the fanfare for him. Frustache.
- Milan Michalek's return is probably the biggest piece of good news the Senators have tonight. While he wasn't playing particularly well before his injury, being able to roll out a line of 9-7-11 allows some semblance of a top line.
- Hopefully Chris Neil isn't let down by his lazy teammates again. We need at least 90% of the players working as hard as Neil tonight.
- Kyle Turris is on this team for goals. He doesn't have one in 19 games, that's not very good. What's more hilarious is that he is shooting 8.5% for the season, right around his career average of 8.6%. He's been the victim of some good saves, but overall he hasn't been particularly unlucky. Turris has some of the worst possession numbers on this club, Jason Spezza can't return fast enough.
- The Senators have won only 3 out of 11 games on the road this year. By contrast, they have won 9 out of 12 at home.
- Ottawa's goaltending has been so incredible, it really is mind boggling. Despite getting peppered with shots, the Senators goaltenders haven't given up more than two goals in any of the nine games since the Karlsson injury. Craig Anderson has not been missed in the last five games.