OK, to try something new, here's a quick look at tonight's opponent the Ottawa Senators. We'll likely be messing around with lots of different ideas and angles for pre-game coverage to get everyone ready for games.
Ottawa Senators: 22-15-6 (50 points, currently 5th in the East)
135 goals for, 143 goals against
Last 10 games: 7-1-2
Season series vs. Pens: 1-1 (Pens win 6-3 in November, Ottawa won 6-4 December 16th)
Leading scorer: Jason Spezza- 43 games 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists), 22 PIMs, even +/-
The real stud: Erik Karlsson- 43 gp, 41p (6g + 35a) 24 PIMs, +7
SB Partner blog: Silver Seven Sens
The Good: Ottawa's 5th in the East, though they've played a couple more games than all the other teams in the chase, so that may be a little misleading. What's not misleading is Ottawa's recent games- they've won five of their last six games, including a 6-4 winner over Philly on Sunday.
The Bad: It may be a stretch, but in his last 17 appearances goalie Craig Anderson has given up 3+ goals nine times, and his goals against for the season is north of 3. Ottawa's not exactly the most defensively tight team in the East.
Old Friends: Sergei Gonchar (36 games, 23 points (2g, 21 a) 26 PIMs, even +/-
-Gonchar, as Penguins fans can attest, is having a much better second season than his first with his new team. After putting up just 27 points in 67 games last year (and going a -15), Gonch has turned it around and is putting up some decent numbers. With Karlsson around, he's no longer the primary option, but at this stage of his career it's probably for the best anyways.
Fight Watch: Zenon Konopka, Chris Neil, Matt Carkner, Nick Foligno......Steve MacIntyre, Deryk Engelland, Arron Asham
-We'll throw Foligno into the mix for his antics of twice "accidentally" falling on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury this season. Will a guy like Engelland or Asham take offense to that? And while brutish MacIntyre probably gets a jersey tonight, there's no way Konopka or Neil have the stones (or lack of brains) to drop gloves with Big Mac.
Hidden Stat: Spezza (54.5%) and Zach Smith (48.4%) have combined to take 1,530 faceoffs this season for the Sens. The rest of the team combined has just 1,101 faceoffs. In the last meeting, Spezza won 17 of his 26 faceoffs (65%) in addition to his 2 goal, 2 assists.
PensBurgh 3 Keys:
1 - Big Guns Scoring. In their last three wins, Spezza (2g, 2a), Karlsson (1g, 3a) and Daniel Alfredsson (3 g, 3 a) have all lit the lamp. Ottawa's always been a team that will go as far as their top guys carry them, and right now they are firing on all cylinders.
2- Oh, Brother. Milan Michalek was amongst the NHL's leading goal scorers when he suffered a concussion last month. Since returning on December 27th, Michalek only has one goal and three points in seven games. Though he does have 11 shots on goal in his last two games and may be turning the corner. Tonight he'll likely be matched up a lot against his brother Zbynek. Whichever brother gets the better of the battle could go a long way in determining the night's winning team.
3- Grand Turris-mo. Since coming over from Phoenix in a trade, former 3rd overall draft pick Kyle Turris has been finding a groove. He's got seven points (1g, 6a) in ten games as a Senator and has been playing 17, 18 minutes a night the past two games.