Pre-Game: Senators vs. Canucks
The Ottawa Senators are looking to avoid one streak and continue another as they face-off against the Vancouver Canucks tonight. The Luongo-less Canucks are 5-4-1 in their last ten games but have fallen short in their last two, including one to the Edmonton Oilers despite sporting a 10-5-1 record at home this season. The Senators are currently 3-6-1 in their last ten, but regardless of the losses, their performances were much stronger with longer puck controls in the offensive zone. This resulted in some significant chances that didn't pay off. The chemistry is slowly coming back for the energy lines; let's just hope it comes into place sooner than later.
Alex Auld played a bit of a poor game last night. The Flames studied their footage well as they persistently went high, exposing Auld's vulnerability to continuously, prematurely, resort to the butterfly. Also, consider last night's game to be against the Northwestern division leaders, Calgary Flames, who are outstanding at home (11-4-3) and have won 4 of their last 5 outings. It’s difficult to blame the Senators play, who have shown a lot of heart as of late, with Cody Bass taking one for the team last night, when their opponent s are now coming into their own.
It's why tonight's affair should be looked at as an opportunity. The Canucks are without Roberto Luongo, Rick Rypien, Ryan Johnson, Sami Salo and Taylor Pyatt, and while the Sens have likely lost Volchenkov for tonight's game with an upper body injury, and Filip Kuba is still out with a groin injury, there’s still a big opportunity to capitalize on the aching Vancouver franchise.
The greatest challenge Hartsburg faces right now is to motivate his secondary lines by transferring their penalties into goals. The necessary grit is there for the team, but there is too much frustration in the defensive zone. They need to slow the play down, gain control, and move the puck out. It comes down to a confidence issue. At times, they look very uncomfortable, even falling out of position, as they actively pursue the puck, and not the body. They always seem to be one step behind the play.
A win tonight could very well spark the Senators franchise, or it could say once and for all just what type of team this Ottawa club is all about. Will the Senators rise to the occasion, or fall once again and increase their road loss streak to 12? We'll all be able to tune in to find out on tonight at 10:00 P.M. EST.
Micheal A. Aldred