Capitals-Senators preview

The Caps last two stops on this road trip are the in Great White North with a game against the Ottawa Senators tonight and the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow. I’m hoping that if we win tonight, it’s a little more decisive than the one over Philadelphia on Tuesday. Not that I’m sneezing at two points but it’s tough to say that the Caps were the better team that night. As everyone probably knows, Alex Ovechkin and Jason Arnott are sitting out for at least the next couple of games. Also out is Eric Fehr who suffered a lower body injury (hopefully way less serious than the last time). I’ve also heard news that Mike Green might be out for the beginning of the playoffs, too. Obviously, it’s not good to have players hurt but think of this as an opportunity for guys like Dennis Wideman, Alex Semin, Marco Sturm and Marus Johansson to fill-in for them and show them that they can be ready for the playoffs. Wideman and Johansson have done a great job so far while Semin’s been on-and-off and Sturm is probably only in the lineup because of injuries. Let’s see how the latter two do in the next few games. Semin’s had a very good history against Ottawa (12 goals, 21 points in 16 games) and this is a good game for him to get out of his slump.

Know Your Enemy: Ottawa Senators

For the better part of the year, the Sens were an awful team. They are sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference due to a disastrous beginning and middle part of the season which saw them being out-shot and out-scored nightly. The off-season signing of Sergei Gonchar proved to be a bad one as he has looked considerably slower this year and his -15 rating shows that. The emergence of Erik Karlsson as the team’s powerplay quarterback has almost made his signing look unnecessary. They are also saddled with bad contracts to Pacal Leclaire, Chris Neil and now Chris Philips as some of GM Bryan Murray’s signings haven’t helped the team at all. He did make a good trade by sending Brian Elliot to Ottawa for Craig Anderson (then followed it by giving him a stupid contract) and getting a decent return for tw0-way centers Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly but he also traded Alexei Kovalev and Jarkko Ruutu for basically nothing and decided to re-sign Chris Phillips instead of trading him. You get some good and a lot of bad with Murray. The Sens have been playing better since the arrival of Anderson and some of the call-ups from Binghampton have done well and they are coming off a win against the Rangers last night so let’s not mark this one down as an easy win.

News/Notes:

Craig Anderson stopped 40 of 42 shots last time he played the Caps (as a member of the Colorado Avalanche) and has a .940 save percentage since joining Ottawa. They rewarded him with a 4-year deal worth about $3+ mil in cap space per season. Yeesh, and thought the Niemi contract was bad. At least this is after Leclaire’s contract goes off the books. Anderson has done well for himself, though but I think it’s too early to give him a 4-year deal considering they have Robin Lehner in their system.

– Speaking of the Sens farm system, there’s some great defense prospects sitting there (Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, Peter Wiercioch) but we’ll only get to see Wiercioch tonight.

– Bobby Butler and Erik Condra have both done pretty solid since being called up from Binghampton. They’ve definitely earned a look for the Sens next year. Also, Ryan Shannon’s been giving the Sens a lot for his contract’s value. When he’s your second line center, that’s a bad sign.

– Michal Neuvirth is feeling ill so Semyon Varlamov will get his first start since February tonight. Remember how Varly’s first start since coming off his groin injury last year ended? Yeah, let’s hope that tonight goes nothing like it.

– So much talk about Washington’s scoring troubles this season but then I look at the Sens top goal-scorers and see that Jason Spezza is sitting at the top……..with 16 goals. He’s missed about 20 games, too. I bet he misses Dany Heatley right now. Or a goal scorer in general besides Milan Michalek.

– Over/under how many minutes the King/Beagle/Hendricks line gets tonight. I’m going to say that Hendricks is the only one to have even close to 10 minutes because he’ll be on the PK unit. King will probably fight Chris Neil and have more PIM’s than ice time again.

Lines:
Washington

Laich-Backstrom-Semin

Chimera-Johansson-Knuble

Sturm-Gordon-Bradley

Clark-Beagle-Hendricks

Alzner-Carlson

Schultz-Wideman

Erskine-Hannan

Varlamov

Ottawa

Greening-Spezza-Butler

Michalek-Shannon-Condra

Folingo-Smith-Neil

Svatos-Winchester-Lassard

Phillips-Lee

Hale-Karlsson

Kuba-Wiencioch

Anderson

 

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