Carolina Hurricanes at Ottawa Senators
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 7:30 pm ET
Scotiabank Place - Ottawa, Ont.
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas HD --- Radio - 99.9 The Fan
SB Nation Senators Blog: Silver Seven Sens (twitter @silversevensens)
Hurricanes Record: 17-22-2 (36 pts.)
Senators Record: 21-14-6 (48 pts.)
Tonight is the third and final regular season meeting between the Hurricanes and the Senators. The Hurricanes have enjoyed the best of this match-up so far with a 2-0-0 record that featured a Dan Ellis shutout in Raleigh on February 1st, followed up by a 3-2 overtime win in Ottawa on February 7th.
The Hurricanes are basically playing for pride these days, having been virtually eliminated from the playoffs. Now 14th in the Eastern Conference, their "tragic number" is down to 4 points with seven games remaining.
The Hurricanes last played Saturday night in Raleigh, and to the delight of the fans in the building, finally ended an eight-game home losing streak with a 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins. The game featured a strong performance in net for Justin Peters (whose highlight reel save on Jaromir Jagr was the #1 play on ESPN SportsCenter, watch it again here), and strong special teams performance with two power play goals and important penalty kills.
Yesterday the team assembled for their annual team photo, then took the ice for practice (such that it was) before flying out to Ottawa in the afternoon. According to several sources, the coaches were delayed getting out on the ice, which resulted in a little anarchy and boisterous behavior before the team got down to business, as described here by the Canes' Michael Smith:
@MSmithCanes: If you missed practice without coaches this morning, this is basically what it was:http://bit.ly/138wicm
@MSmithCanes: @jbk_ltd I told 44 it was like Lord of the Flies without the savages and he said, "Well, all metaphors break down somewhere."
There are no anticipated line-up changes, and no word as to who will be in net. Dan Ellis has the aforementioned shutout earlier this season, and Justin Peters has not yet faced the Senators in his NHL career.
Tim Wallace, Tim Brent, and Drayson Bowman remain out along with Cam Ward and Joni Pitkanen.
For the Hurricanes, tonight's player to watch may be Siberian sorcerer Alex Semin. Sasha's dominating performance on both ends of the ice during the first period of the game in Raleigh on February 1st (culminating in a primary assist on Eric Staal's eventual game-winner) may very well have been the catalyst for that $35m contract extension. He followed up that performance with the game-tying goal to force overtime (and the eventual win) in Ottawa on February 7th. Semin has 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in 22 games career to date against the Senators.
Kirk Muller spoke to the media after yesterday's practice and you can hear it [here]. Also he spoke to Chip Alexander of the N&O on his learnings from the stretch of recent losses [here].
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Chad LaRose
Tuomo Ruutu - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer
Nicolas Blancard - Marc-Andre Bergeron* - Kevin Westgarth
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - Joe Corvo
Bobby Sanguinetti - Jamie McBain
* Bergeron 7th defenseman, centers will double-shift
The Senators' situation today is unusual and a little surreal, given their original plans to be returning home for the second game of a back-to-back that would have them facing the Bruins in Boston last night. Instead they returned home early last night after experiencing the trauma of the events surrounding yesterday's bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Last night's game against the Bruins, which has not yet been rescheduled, was to have been the conclusion of a seven-game road trip, which started off with a four-game losing streak before wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and most recently the New Jersey Devils (2-0 shutout Friday night).
The Senators are 6th in the Eastern Conference and 4th in the Northeast Division behind the Canadiens (who have clinched a playoff berth), Bruins, and Maple Leafs. They are five points behind the Leafs and only two points ahead of the 8th place Rangers, so they are still very much fighting to maintain a playoff spot.
Keep an eye out for newcomer Cory Conacher, who the Senators acquired in the trade that sent goaltender Ben Bishop to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Conacher, a favorite in Calder Cup discussions, has 25 points so far in his rookie season, including 3 points in 3 games against the Canes.
Since the Senators did not play last night as scheduled, expect Vezina candidate Craig Anderson in net tonight. Andy is 4-2-4 with a 2.64 GAA in 10 career games against the Hurricanes, but his numbers this season are off the charts, 1.53 GAA and .949 save percentage in 18 starts. He is coming off a 33-save shutout against the Devils Friday night.
The Senators intended to healthy scratch forward Guillaume Latendresse in favor of a more physical presence from Matt Kassian, that could reverse in tonight's lineup. On injured reserve are forward Jason Spezza (back surgery) and defensemen Erik Karlsson (lacerated achilles tendon) and Jared Cowen (hip surgery).
Here is the projected line-up (from Silver Seven Sens):
Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Cory Conacher - Mika Zibanejad - Jakob Silfverberg
Colin Greening - Pageau - Erik Condra
Matt Kassian - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Marc Methot - Eric Gryba
Patrick Wiercioch - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Andre Benoit
Ryan Murphy's OHL career with the Kitchener Rangers is officially over. The Rangers were eliminated from their playoffs on Friday, and yesterday the Charlotte Checkers announced that the Hurricanes 2011 first round draft pick has joined the team for the duration of the regular season and the playoffs. Murphy played four games earlier in the season for the Hurricanes before being sent back to Kitchener to preserve the first year of his entry-level contract.
The NHL 14 trailer is here and this year it's extra filthy, thanks to an appearance of "that pass" from Alex Semin to Jiri Tlusty (read more about it on Puck Daddy).
There were two feel-good games on PNC Arena ice this weekend. After the Canes won on Saturday night, the Canes held their second annual Alumni Game on Sunday afternoon, raising over $50,000 for the Kids 'N Community Foundation. In the interest of getting the game preview out this morning, I'll return with further updates on this event later in the morning.
Finally on a more somber note, our thoughts go out to our friends at SB Nation's Stanley Cup of Chowder blog and to all in the Boston area that were affected by yesterday's tragic events at the Boston Marathon.
@CanesKNCF: Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the explosions at the Boston Marathon.
@CanesChantel: Awful to see what happened on Boston's favorite Monday.A day to celebrate accomplishments shouldn't end like that.Thinking of those affected
@Sangs2224: Thoughts and prayers for everybody in Boston
@pattydwyer39: Thought and prayers go out to everyone in Boston
@rileynash20: So sad seeing what happened in Boston today, thoughts and prayers with them. Amazing watching people courageously risk their lives and come Together as one. #faithinpeople