Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins: Team Non-Crosby versus Team Crosby

It's Friday, Friday! Got to watch on Friday!
Everybody's looking forward to the hockey, hockey!

Ahem, with that out of the way, the Ottawa Senators will finally return to action tonight when they play the Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby, the great saviour of hockey. As far as recent history goes, there is no one the Senators have had more of an on-ice rivalry than the Pittsburgh Penguins, facing them in the first round in each of Ottawa's last three playoff seasons. Some of you may hate the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montréal Canadiens the most, but for yours truly, it is by far the Penguins. We must win this!

The Senators will finally end a six-game road trip that has already been a smashing success, picking up seven out of a possible 10 points so far. Here are the lines from the Ottawa Sun.

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno - Stéphane Da Costa - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Zenon Konopka - Jesse Winchester - Bobby Butler

Sergei Gonchar - Chris Phillips
Jared Cowen - Brian Lee

Craig Anderson (starter)
Alex Auld

Talking points and statistics after the jump. GO SENS GO!

Here are my talking points for tonight:

  • Impact of long break: As you are (painfully) aware, the Senators have not played since Sunday. They were on a bit of a roll, having gone 3-0-1 in their last four games. On the other hand, the team got in a lot of practise time to work on things such as the power play. Will the Sens be rusty or will the layoff help?
  • Power play: Speaking of the power play, it was talked about over the week, but will the Senators change up anything or continue with the same approach?
  • Da Costa's ice time: Paul MacLean seemed to think Stéphane Da Costa might struggle against Pittsburgh's centres. It will be interesting to see how much Da Costa plays tonight.
  • Sidney Crosby's struggles against Ottawa: Crosby has only (for him) 17 points and only four goals in 20 regular season games against Ottawa, his worst performance against any eastern conference club. Can the Sens shut him down again tonight? Crosby does have 27 points in 15 playoff games against Ottawa though.
  • The Pens "second" line: Everyone may seem to make it all about Crosby these days, but Pittsburgh was a good team even without him. Their supposed second line consists of Evgeni Malkin (18 points in 15 games) and James Neal (second in the NHL with 13 goals). Erik Karlsson, Filip Kuba, Sergei Gonchar and Chris Phillips are in for some tough assignments tonight.
Here are the 2011-2012 comparative statistics for the Senators and the Penguins:

Category Ottawa Enemy - Pittsburgh
Value Rank Value Rank
Goals For per game 2.81 13th 2.91 7th
Goals Against per game 3.29 28th 2.32 7th
5 on 5 GF/GA ratio 0.77 26th 0.95 21st
Shots for per game 30.0 16th 33.2 5th
Shots against per game 29.9 15th 28.3 4th
Power play % 20.8 6th 19.2 9th
Penalty kill % 79.1 24th 90.3 2nd
Category Ottawa Enemy - Pittsburgh
Player Value Player Value
Points Jason Spezza 20 James Neal 22
Goals Milan Michalek 12 James Neal 13
Assists Erik Karlsson 17 Kris Letang 15
PP Points Erik Karlsson 9 Kris Letang 10
Shots Erik Karlsson 68 James Neal 90
Hits Nick Foligno 57 Craig Adams 49
Avg. Ice time Erik Karlsson 25:26 Kris Letang 26:28
Face-offs % Zenon Konopka 60.5 Sidney Crosby 60.9

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