Game 39 Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators
The Senators have been naughty, and now get a lump of coal in their stockings.
All right, this has to go up at 3pm and I'm not above plagiarizing, so here's what our own B_T has to say about this game:
Sidney Crosby has been in on 18 goals in his last 10 games. Do you know who else has been in on 18 goals in their last 10 games? The Buffalo Sabres.
Oh, and that's less than half the goals the Penguins have scored in that stretch. Even Marc-Andre Fleury has been good. In his 8 starts out of the Pens last 10 games, he's posted a 0.936 SV%.
All of this despite having a lot of injuries. Evgeni Malkin is day to day. They've got 9 players on IR, including Tomas Vokoun, 4 of their regular blue liners (Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin and Rob Scuderi) and 4 depth forwards. They've only lost one of their last 10 games, and speaking of the team that beat them... [it was the Boston Bruins, who Ottawa plays next.]
B_T is giving awesome previews of the week ahead, and you should be reading them. You can find this week's here. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting so I didn't have to write an introduction, amigo!
Your expected lines for tonight:
And on the Pittsburgh side:
- That doesn't look anything like the lineup that pulverized Ottawa last spring, does it? So... the team just has to shut down Crosby and this one's in the bag. Of course, everyone else is probably saying the same thing and look how that's gone.
- Yes, Robin Lehner has the flu. Nathan Lawson has been called up and might be the backup for this game. If Craig Anderson has one good game in the regular season, I hope it's this one.
- Mika Zibanejad is back, which means Matt Kassian sits down. Ottawa now has four competent lines. PLEASE PLAY WELL, GUYS!
- No changes on defense as those guys weren't terrible against Phoenix, unless Antoine Vermette was on the ice.
- Ottawa is only 20 points back from Pittsburgh's Conference-leading 55. That's just one 10-game winning streak combined with one 10-game losing streak from them! That's nothing!
- More realistically, Ottawa is only one point back of three teams all battling for a wild card spot. All three teams are in action tonight, so there's a chances for the Sens to leapfrog them.
- However, Ottawa currently sits five points back of the last wild card team. That's striking distance, but just barely.
- On the bright side, that wild card team is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Our own B_T, who's all kinds of awesome, points out some hope for the way they're trending in today's Silver Nuggets.
- So, in very broad terms, Ottawa doesn't really need massive losing streaks from other teams to make the playoffs... yet. They're still running with the pack, which says something about the Eastern Conference.
- On the non-bright side, apparently the team is being ravaged by the flu right now, which makes Marc Methot a legitimate scapegoat. Just wash your hands, Marc. Robin Lehner can't go tonight and a lot of other players are reportedly really under the weather. Don't expect a lot of spring in their step tonight.
- I think I recognize about 40% of Pittsburgh's team. The opportunity to pounce on them couldn't come at a worse time considering Ottawa's health for the game tonight, but considering they've lost the most man games to injury while we've lost the fewest, the flu can't be an excuse in this one.
- I feel pretty good about this game. I'm not, uh, not scared at all. I feel kind of... invincible. I've got a very positive attitude about this.