The Cory Conacher era will officially begin tonight when the Ottawa Senators continue their seven game road trip against the Buffalo Sabres. Despite losing consecutive games in regulation, Ottawa is fifth in the eastern conference and holds a five point lead with a game in hand over ninth placed New Jersey.
Robin Lehner will once again get the start while Peter Regin and Mike Lundin will return in the place of Jim O'Brien and André Benoit. Conacher will replace the injured Mike Hoffman. Here are the lines from Sylvain St-Laurent.
Latendresse - Turris - Alfredsson
Conacher - Zibanejad - Silfverberg
Greening - Smith - Neil
Kassian- Regin - Condra
Phillips - Méthot
Lundin - Gonchar
Wiercioch - Gryba
Some things to discuss for tonight:
- Robin Lehner will make his 10th start of the season. While many might have expected Anderson to start tonight, Lehner did make 47 saves in his last game. Plus Paul MacLean would like Anderson to get some more practice.
- The four minutes played by Lord Protector Matt Kassian was the most Paul MacLean has trusted him with in his three road games. Will our very own Oliver Cromwell shatter the five minute threshold tonight?
- I am excited, like everyone else, to see this line of Conacher-Zibanejad-Silfverberg. Beaucoup de speed. We might have two second lines in the top six, but it sure beats having a second and a third line in the top six that we had a few weeks ago.
- A few changes on the defensive end too, and I have to say I like them. Relegating Eric Gryba to the bottom pairing with Wiercioch should be beneficial for two reasons. 1) Gryba won't be playing 20 minutes any more, 2) Ottawa might be able to exit the defensive zone with possession while Gryba is on the ice.
- Phillips on the top pairing might be a little bit dangerous, but he is likely more capable of doing the job than Gryba at the moment. Did you know I am not confident in Gryba's abilities in playing against the top two lines?
- Sergei Gonchar is now pointless in four straight games, but he did have five shots against Boston. Who didn't have five shots against Boston though!?
- The Sabres will be without Thomas Vanek due to injury. They are currently five points out of a playoff spot.
- The Senators continue to lead in shots on goal, and are last in shots against. They are first in goals against.
- Ottawa has won all three games against Buffalo but only three out of 12 against the rest of the division.
- Jakob Silfverberg has had at least one shot on goal in all but one game this season.