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Gameday 14: Ottawa brings their defense to town

A gameday preview for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators. The two teams met two and a half weeks ago and the Pens won 2-1 in a shootout. Ottawa's defense has been great, with starting goalie Craig Anderson allowing just 15 goals in 11 games.

Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE

We sat down with our buddy Peter from Silver Seven Sens to ask some questions before the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins game tonight. Be sure to check them out for the Ottawa perspective leading up to the game.

#1- At 7-4-2 with Jason Spezza out with injury, it seems like the Ottawa Senators are still hanging tough. What’s been the story of the season so far? Has it been a different guy every night coming through or is a certain line the key to Ottawa’s success?

The team is trying to stay in the thick of things, but they're having a lot of trouble scoring: Ottawa was shut out by Dan Ellis and Al Montoya last week, and they're 1-3-1 in the five games since it was announced that Spezza'd be going under the knife. [Ed note- questions were answered yesterday before Ottawa's 2-0 win over Buffalo] The story of the season, then, is a lack of offensive push without Spezza, and losses despite stellar play of Craig Anderson. After Spezza's injury, both Guillaume Latendresse and Peter Regin have also sustained injuries, but it's unclear how long they'll be out. Either way, the team's depth is and will continue to be tested. Any success the team has, though, will be driven by Anderson and Erik Karlsson.

#2 – Ottawa’s games have been mostly defensive and Craig Anderson has allowed just 15 goals in 10 games and is sporting a .950 save percentage. Do we live in a world where Craig Anderson is the best goalie in the league? And do you see this continuing for the rest of the season?

I don't know what's changed in Anderson's game, but I do hope it can continue for the rest of the season, because the team doesn't have enough offensive punch to overcome less-than-incredible goaltending. He worked with Francois Allaire in the off-season and attributes much of his success to that, but we'll see if he can continue the seemingly unsustainable numbers. Anderson's played this well in the past, so it's possible.

#3- Offensively the team is led in goals by Erik Karlsson (5), who also leads the league in shots (53) and is playing an absurd 27:53 a night. Speak to his play- is he getting shots off the rush? Are a majority coming on the power play? Is he taking the reigns of the offense or does it seem like the team is deferring to him to take shots and then follow up?

Karlsson has full command of the reins on the offence, and his shots come in all situations: Point shots, shots from the slot, shots from in deep, shots off the rush. Basically every time he's got a shot there, he takes it. I wouldn't call it 'deference' to Karlsson, though; simply an acknowledgement that he is the team's most dynamic offensive player.