It seems strange that a team would play so many big games early in December but that is the reality of the situation facing the Ottawa Senators.
Paul MacLean’s team has dug themselves a bit of a hole and need to start racking up some wins if they want to play their way back into contention in the Eastern Conference. The Sens currently sit five points back of the slumping Leafs for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and have a chance to narrow that gap a little bit tonight when they visit Martin St. Louis and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After closing out their Florida swing in Tampa Bay, the Senators will return home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tampa Bay has enjoyed plenty of early season success and a lot of it has to do with outstanding goaltending. Ben Bishop has posted a 14-5-1 record with an impressive 2.03 GAA and an unbelievable .932 save percentage. The American born goaltender has been so good that he may even earn a spot on Team USA at the upcoming Olympics. Bishop has been excellent since arriving in Tampa and has some fans wondering if Bryan Murray got enough in return when he dealt Bishop at last year’s deadline.
Cory Conacher hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since arriving in the Nation’s Capital but he has been useful forward for Paul MacLean. The fact remains the Senators knew they weren’t going to be offering Ben Bishop another contract so took the best offer out there at the time. Interesting bit of info here from Ian Mendes where he suggests that the Senators were close to dealing Bishop for Sean Couturier. If anything, it should be Oilers fans that are kicking themselves for not improving on their offer of Randy Jones and a late second round pick.
Paul MacLean surprised everyone with his lines on Tuesday night and is expected to go with the same combinations tonight against the Bolts. At first glance, I wasn’t crazy about the combinations but they worked. Not surprising that MacLean would stick with it against Tampa.
Robin Lehner starts for the Senators. Puck drop is scheduled for just after 7:30PM.
The Daily Chirp- Here’s a wacky one. Over the weekend, with so much of the focus on Daniel Alfredsson’s return to Ottawa, there was a lots of talk about whether or not Alfie could at some point return to the organization when his playing career is done. It was long assumed Alfie was destined for a management position here in Ottawa until the drama of this summer threw a wrench into those plans. One interesting rumour making the rounds over the weekend- Alfredsson as Owner. Melnyk has no intention of selling the team and he has made that very clear. But if he ever did put the team on the market, the rumour was Daniel Alfredsson (and I assume others?) would be interested. Wouldn’t that be something…