Jesse Zhang The Hockey Writers
Preview: Senators Enter the City of Angels
The Ottawa Senators continue their California road trip with a matinee match-up with the Los Angeles Kings. This will be the second and last meeting between these two teams for the regular season, and the Senators will look to sweep the season series. Goaltender Mike Condon hopes to continue his hot play with Craig Anderson on his leave of absence, as he is currently sporting a 1.68 goals against average and a .945 save percentage with a 4-1-1 record. The Kings will also be starting their backup goaltender in Peter Budaj, with Jonathan Quick still out with a long term injury.
We can expect another exciting game between these two teams this afternoon. Last time they met was almost exactly a month ago on November 11 in Ottawa, when the Senators won the game with only 6.5 seconds left in regulation. That game helped forward Mark Stone get on his current hot streak, as he scored the game winner, his first goal in nine games. Since then, Stone has eight goals and 15 points in his last 14 games.
Since their last match-up, these two teams have been going in opposite directions. Ottawa’s record is 8-4-2 while Los Angeles has barely been playing over .500 with a 6-5-2 record. The Kings have been playing much better recently, with a 6-2-1 record in their last nine games, so the Senators should expect a strong opposition today.
After defenceman Erik Karlsson broke the Senators’ record for most points by a defenceman on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks, there will be another milestone for the team today. Chris Neil will be playing his 1000th game. He currently has 112 goals and 248 points, but most notably has 2492 penalty minutes, the most among active NHL players. The Senators hope that they will be able to secure a victory to celebrate his achievement.
Ottawa Senators at Los Angeles Kings
Staples Centre – 4 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – FS-W, TSN5, RDS
2016-17 Season Series: Second and Final of the season
Ottawa Senators – 16-9-2 – 34 Points
Second place in the Atlantic Division
Road Record: 7-4-0
Hot Players: Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Erik Karlsson, Mike Condon
Key Absences: Craig Anderson (leave of absence), Clarke MaCarthur (concussion), Curtis Lazar (concussion)
Mike Hoffman – Derick Brassard – Mark Stone
Ryan Dzingel – Kyle Turris – Bobby Ryan
Zack Smith – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Tom Pyatt
Buddy Robinson – Chris Kelly – Chris Neil
Marc Methot – Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki – Chris Wideman
Los Angeles Kings – 13-11-2 – 28 Points
One point out of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference
Home Record: 9-4-1
Hot Players: Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty
Key Absences: Jonathan Quick (groin), Brayden McNabb (collarbone)
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Trevor Lewis
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dustin Brown – Andy Andreoff – Devin Setoguchi
Dwight King – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan
Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Kevin Gravel – Matt Greene
1)Erik Karlsson is continuing trying to shake off his reputation of being a one-dimensional player, only good for offence. Not only is he leading the lead in shot blocks this season with 78, he continues to lead the team in points with 27 at a point-per-game pace. He has found a way to establish his defensive game without sacrificing much of his offence.
2)Having gone against Brent Burns on Thursday, Karlsson will be going up against another one of the league’s top defencemen in Drew Doughty. Karlsson is leading the league in points among defencemen and has seen quite a bit of success against the Kings during the last couple of seasons with five points in his last three games against the them. He will look to build off that today.
3)The Senators will also be getting Marc Methot back in the lineup after getting hurt on November 29. He is likely to rejoin Karlsson on the top pairing, but it remains to be seen whether or not he will be playing over 20 minutes in his first game back.
4)Despite the Kings having one of the league’s best home records, the Senators are among the best on the road. Many Eastern Conference teams have difficulty on their annual California road trips, but Ottawa has been one of the exceptions with a 6-1-0 record on the road against San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles.
5)The Senators will want to get off to another strong start against the Kings today. The Kings are second last in the league in goals for in the first period, so getting the lead early one will be of a great help in establishing their tempo for the rest of the game.
The Senators should be ready for a very active Darryl Sutter behind the Kings’ bench. The defensive pairings have been changing quite a bit since the middle of the team’s 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The Senators’ forwards should be ready to adapt themselves to Sutter’s defensive game system.
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