The Ottawa Senators come into Raleigh tonight with a 2-0-0 record against the Hurricanes. Tonight they will look to make it a sweep after a regulation win and an overtime win, both by 2-1 scores back in November.
Since that time the story for both teams has changed. Ottawa came into the season with low expectations. The Senators finished 11th place in the East last year and replaced both their GM and their head coach. The moves seem to have worked because the Sens sit just two points behind the first-place Montreal Canadiens with three games in hand.
The Senators are led by their defense and one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, Erik Karlsson. Karlsson has a team-high 52 points (10g, 42a) which equates to 1.45 points per 60 minutes. This season has also seen the resurgence of Dion Phaneuf who has 26 points (9g, 17a) in 58 games played. The Sens’ blue line will give the Hurricanes fits as the Canes are susceptible to drop passes and leaving too much space behind the forwards.
Another key to the Senators’ success has been their goaltending. Mike Condon was acquired by the team for a 2017 fifth-round pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Condon has stepped up in Craig Anderson’s leave of absence, playing 31 games and winning 17 of them with a .913 save percentage and a 2.49 GAA.
The Sens will make a deep run off the back of Anderson, now back in the starter’s crease after a few months of being in and out of the lineup while his wife fought cancer. Among all goalies who have played 15 or more games, Anderson ranks 6th in save percentage with a .927 — above both Matt Murray and Sergei Bobrovsky, by comparison.
The Senators come to Raleigh thin at forward. Mark Stone, the top scoring forward, is out with a neck injury after a high hit by Jacob Trouba. Bobby Ryan is out 4-6 weeks with a broken finger. Mike Hoffman, who has 39 points and 19 goals, is also out with a groin injury.
The Senators have recalled Casey Bailey and Max McCormick from their AHL affiliate in Binghamton. Both forwards have played six games and have yet to record a point this season. (Spoiler alert!!!) In the forwards' absence, both Kyle Turris and Derick Brassard have stepped up to play more than 20 minutes apiece in Tuesday’s win over the Devils.
What To Watch For:
- The Senators enter the game just 22nd in the league in possession with a 48.26 cf%. Their weak possession numbers are reflected in their +5 goal differential.
- Ottawa’s netminders have the second most shutouts in the league with nine, just one behind the ten shutouts pitched by Washington Capitals goaltenders this season.
- The three Sens’ forwards that are out with injuries tonight have accounted for 53 total goals and 104 total points. This accounts for more than a third of the team’s 158 goals for the entire season.
- The Hurricanes have earned at least a point in 21 of the last 27 games against Ottawa, earning a record of 16-6-5 dating back to 2009. Along those same lines, the Canes are 30-11-6 all-time at home against the Senators.