Game 35 preview: St. Louis Blues @ Ottawa Senators

A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and the St. Louis Blues on 16 December 2013.

The Ottawa Senators will try again to beat a western conference team when they host the St. Louis Blues tonight. In 12 games against the west, Ottawa has zero regulation wins, nine regulation losses and taken three games to overtime. Overall the Senators have a 1-9-2 record against the west, which is the worst record in the league. This compares with a very good 12-6-4 record against the east.

Marc Methot is healthy but is being held out until he regains strength. Eric Gryba will be the other healthy scratch while Robin Lehner will start.

Here are the lines:

MacArthur - Spezza - Condra
Michalek - Smith - Zibanejad
Greening - Pageau - Neil
Conacher - Turris - Ryan

Cowen - Karlsson
Phillips - Ceci
Wiercioch - Corvo

Lehner (starter)

Some notes for tonight:

  • The Senators lost one game and fell from ninth in the east to 13th. This just highlights how tough it is for Ottawa to make the playoffs. There are half a dozen teams right around the Senators and Ottawa has to outplay all of them.
  • Robin Lehner got the loss in the last game. That's goalie win/loss record for you. Here are how many goals Ottawa has scored in the last four games that Lehner started: 1 (Buffalo), 1 (Tampa Bay), 2 (Detroit), 1 (Carolina). Amazingly, Ottawa lost all of them.
  • I don't know what is going on in Paul MacLean's mind with regards to the ice time given to Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan. Ryan is tied for 20th in the NHL in points and the only one in the top 38 averaging under 18 minutes. Best players play.
  • Chris Neil is on pace for a 12-points season. Among regular plays (20+ games and 10+ minutes of 5-on-5 per game), Neil leads the NHL with 2.8 minor penalties (not counting coincidental ones) per 60 minutes. The second highest player is at 2.0 meaning Neil is 40% more likely to put his team shorthanded than any other regular player in the NHL.
  • One hope for Ottawa is that while St. Louis has the far superior team, the Senators do appear to have the better goaltender with Brian Elliott sporting a 91.3 save percentage.
  • With the Leafs playing a severely depleted Penguins lineup tonight, Ottawa could end the night any where between three and seven points out of a playoff spot.

Here are some stats leaders for the two teams tonight.

Category Ottawa St. Louis
Player # Player #
Goals Bobby Ryan 15 Alex Steen 22
Assists Erik Karlsson 21 T.J. Oshie 23
Points Bobby Ryan 30 Alex Steen 35
Shots Erik Karlsson 106 Alex Steen 104
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 27:38 Alex Pietrangelo 25:22

Category Ottawa St. Louis
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.79 9th 3.45 2nd
Goals Against 3.12 27th 2.32 7th
Corsi Close % 50.3% 14th 55.3% 3rd
Fenwick Close % 48.9% 19th 55.2% 3rd
Shots For 33.4 2nd 29.8 15th
Shots Against 34.1 27th 25.5 2nd

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