Game 5: Ottawa Senators @ Washington Capitals

After an ugly 7-1 loss at home to Colorado, the Senators head to Washington to take on the Capitals. The Capitals are 3-0 but haven't yet won in regulation. Like the Senators, Washington was badly outshot 41-19 in Pittsburgh, but managed to pull out a 3-2 win. Bobby Butler's groin injury means he will be replaced by Erik Condra. Brian Lee will also be replaced by Zenon Konopka as Paul MacLean feels Konopka's face-off skills are needed in a road game. Alex Auld will make his first start of the season.

Here is the roster for tonight courtesy of the Ottawa Sun:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Mika Zibanejad
Colin Greening - Stéphane Da Costa - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Peter Regin - Chris Neil
Zack Smith - Zenon Konopka - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - David Rundblad

Alex Auld (starter)
Craig Anderson

Talking points and statistics after the jump.

Here are my talking points for tonight:

  • High scoring game: If I was betting on this game, I'd definitely bet on the over (set at 5.5). All four of the Senators games have had at least 7 goals in the score while the Capitals have also scored and allowed a lot of goals. In addition, both clubs currently have a top ten power play and bottom ten penalty kill. They are both near the top in shots for and near the bottom in shots allowed.
  • Auld's first start: Alex Auld will make his first start of the season. Craig Anderson has played 11 periods plus an overtime period and allowed 19 goals. They haven't all been Anderson's fault, but he hasn't shut the door either. Can't hurt to give Auld a try. We can't be worse than 7-1 can we?
  • First line: Michalek and Spezza who were very successful in the first two games will be reunited. Michalek has been the Senators best forward so far this season, leading them in goals, shots as well as points by a forward. Spezza wasn't able to create as much with Colin Greening so hopefully the first line returns to being a big threat.
  • Special teams: The penalty kill was brutal against Colorado, killing off only 2 out of 6 opportunities. It's going to be very hard to win many games with such a display. On the other hand, the Senators have the #1 ranked power play in the NHL.
  • Fights: The Senators have had a fight in three straight games including two against Toronto. Zenon Konopka has fought in every game he has played and they have been pretty needless fights at that.
  • Helpful Karlsson: Our special little guy continues to lead the NHL in assists and is second behind David Legwand in overall points. Still looking for his first goal though. According to this article at Pro Hockey Talk, the two problems with Senators defence is "a) Erik Karlsson can’t play 60 minutes per game and b) Karlsson can’t be his own defensive partner. Aside from those two problems, their blueline looks great."
  • Ovechkin's slow start: If you look below, you will notice that Alexander Ovechkin doesn't lead the Capitals in any of those categories. Ovechkin who travelled to Russia right before the season started for a funeral, finally scored his first goal on Thursday night. Despite his start, I think of him as the best player in the world and whomever is defending against him is going to have a tough time. He has 17 goals in 23 games against Ottawa.
  • Another Sens Killer: Alexander Semin is someone I would love to see in Ottawa, not only because of his skill but also because of how he destroys Ottawa. Incredibly, since 2007-2008, Semin has 11 goals and 6 assists for 17 points in 12 games against Ottawa.
  • Defensive matchups: It will be interesting to see how the defence is used on the road. The Senators have been using Erik Karlsson and Filip Kuba against the opposition's top lines so far, but do they want to do that against Ovechkin and Backstrom? If they play Chris Phillips against them, then they also play David Rundblad against them. Are we going to see defence juggling tonight?
  • Filatov watch: Nikita Filatov had two goals and an assist in a 5-4 overtime loss last night. Binghamton plays again tonight, can Filatov keep this up and earn a swift return?

Here are the 2011-2012 comparative statistics for the Senators and the Capitals:

Category Ottawa Enemy - Washington
Value Rank Value Rank
Goals For per game 3.00 7th 4.00 1st
Goals Against per game 5.25 30th 3.33 25th
5 on 5 GF/GA ratio 0.38 30th 1.29 10th
Shots for per game 31.0 12th 32.7 8th
Shots against per game 35.0 27th 33.3 24th
Power play % 31.6 1st 23.1 9th
Penalty kill % 68.2 28th 76.9 25th
Category Ottawa Enemy - Washington
Player Value Player Value
Points Erik Karlsson 6 Nicklas Backstrom 4
Goals Milan Michalek 3 Jason Chimera 3
Assists Erik Karlsson 6 Nicklas Backstrom 4
PP Points Erik Karlsson 5 Nicklas Backstrom 3
Shots Milan Michalek 15 Jason Chimera 11
Hits Chris Neil 18 Troy Brouwer 17
Avg. Ice time Erik Karlsson 23:30 Mike Green 22:53
Face-offs % Zack Smith 65.6 Jeff Halpern 57.7

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