Ottawa Senators (13-10-4)
Anaheim Ducks (10-13-5)
Television: Rogers Sportsnet
Gametime: 8:00pm Eastern Time
It’s hard to believe that in 2007, both of these teams were vying for the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup. It’s fascinating to see how quickly these two teams have fallen into NHL irrelevancy. Oh well, since Ottawa’s not the capital of Asshole Town, I’m not going to dwell on how the Ottawa Senators have completely defecated the mattress this western road trip. Instead, I’ll just view it as a microcosm of Ottawa’s systemic problem — They’re having a hard time winning games on the road this season. Away from SBP’s confines, the Senators currently sport the third worst road record in the NHL with a 3-7-1 mark. Ottawa can ill afford to let this trend continue because their 24 road games in the second half loom more ominously than a Bruce Garrioch shadow in the dressing room. The only positive after tonight’s game might be that this road trip will have come to a conclusion.
Here’s my prediction that ran as part of the Ottawa Citizen’s Prediction Panel. (To view the rest of the panel’s predictions, click here.)
Senators 2, Ducks 4
Maybe it’s safe to say that the Counting Crows had it right when they penned that it would be a long December. It’s only one week in and already the Senators have lost all three games on this west coast road trip that has inexplicably taken them from California to Arizona and now back to California to face the Ducks. If it wasn’t for the recent play of Jonathan Cheechoo, this roadie would be an unmitigated disaster. You don’t need to be Gordon Bombay to recognize that Ottawa’s goaltending, effort and defensive zone coverage have been terrible lately. Instead of relying upon the efforts and production of their third and fourth line players, guys like Spezza and Kovalev have to step it up soon as the Eastern Conference standings tighten up. Oh wait, Montreal’s coming to town on Tuesday. I’ll predict Ottawa to break their losing streak then.
Arm Chair Coaching
Okay, I understand that it’s fun as a fan to be cynical and criticize the coaching staff whenever you disagree with the line combinations or who deserves to be a healthy scratch. I get it. But for those sensationalist fans who feel compelled to start banging the fire Clouston drum after this four game losing streak, well…you can fuck right off.
Considering his strong play of late and the deterioration of Jason Spezza’s game, wouldn’t it be fitting to see these guys play together at some point in the near future? Given Spezza’s lack of production and the fact that Alfie and Michalek don’t seem to need him to produce, maybe it’s time to see if these two can develop some chemistry.
Lines (Updated @ 5pm)
According to Ian Mendes’ Twitter, Brian Elliott will start tonight and although there are no lineup changes, there will be shuffled lines — Spezza will play with Kovalev and Foligno while Fisher will Michalek and Alfredsson.