For the sixth time in eight games, the Ottawa Senators will play a southeast division club as they visit the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. A Canadian team playing southern teams in late January and early February? It's almost like the NHL didn't have to modify the original schedule too much and had a target date in mind to end the lockout when they made the schedule right?
Strange starting schedule aside, the Senators will go for their third straight win. Ottawa's went 3-1-1 in a stretch of five games in seven days. The Senators will play every other day until next Saturday, but there will no back-to-back games in that time frame.
According to Ian Mendes, Guillaume Latendresse will be a scratch in favour of Kaspars Daugavins. Sergei Gonchar should also return but Patrick Wiercioch will keep his place. Mark Borowiecki will be the healthy scratch. Here are the lines:
Here are some points to discuss for tonight:
- Response to Jason Spezza injury: While Spezza has missed the last two games, this will be the first game that the club plays since they announced the extent of the injury. Is Karlsson capable of stepping up even more? And speaking of stepping up...
- Turris line usage: So far, Paul MacLean has been using the Turris line against the opposition's top line. He will be on the main scoring line now, so will MacLean change? I don't know if the Smith line is defensively responsible enough to play against an opposition's top line. The 22-93-18 line was very good, but again are they capable of playing against a first line? This is the obvious problem with the Spezza injury, everyone's going to have to do more than usual.
- Anderson plays again: What can you say about the guy? He's been incredible. A fun little stat: Anderson has yet to allow a goal in a game this season after Ottawa has scored their first goal. Carolina leads the NHL with 38 shots a game. Ottawa is second with 33.3 per game. It should be a fun game.
- Gonchar returns: Thankfully Sergei Gonchar is expected to return tonight. Carolina has two dangerous lines: E. Staal with Semin and J. Staal with Skinner. This will be a matchup problem for Ottawa, but would have been even worse without Gonchar.
- #DanEllisProblems: So yeah he's playing. I figured I'll throw the tag out there.
Here are the numbers:
|Corsi Rel QoC
|Off Zone Start %
Karlsson's offensive zone % is coming down a bit. What's surprising is how little Wiercioch has been shielded (45% offensive zone start) compared to Borowiecki (62%) given that Borowiecki is generally considered the safer player. Although, the sample size is very small at this point.
|Corsi Rel QoC
|Off Zone Start %
You can see the point about Turris facing the toughest competition here. The possession numbers are going to have to improve, and it won't get easier with him being the #1 centre now.
Peter was once again back at it, participating in a Q & A with Brian LeBlanc from the Carolina Hurricanes blog Canes Country.
Peter: A lot of pundits picked the Hurricanes as a potential playoff team thanks to their off-season acquisitions, but things don't seem to be going according to plan. What's the matter down there?
Peter: You guys drafted an Erik Karlsson of your own this off-season, I see. What are you expecting of the younger EK?
Brian: Well, it's not every day that you can draft the reigning Norris Trophy winner in the fourth round of the dr....oh, wait. The younger Karlsson, an undersized forward who plays what can be described as a pesky game despite his size (which, again, is really wiry...6'0", 165 lbs), is not likely to come over to North America until at least this summer and maybe not even until 2014. Seeing as how the Canes' depth on the wing leaves a bit to be desired, there's a decent chance that Karlsson will have a spot waiting for him somewhere in the system whenever he comes over, but he's going to really need to focus on building up muscle if he's going to have any hope of making it to the NHL and not getting knocked off the puck by a stiff breeze.