Buffalo - February 10, 2015 -
Who: Ottawa Senators
Where: First Niagra Center, Buffalo, NY
Know thine enemy: The Senators are reeling right now and part of that has to do with injuries. Goaltender Craig Anderson is out for the sixth-straight game due to a hand injury while defenseman Chris Phillips is out with the vaguest possible injury: “somewhere between a lower and upper-body injury” according to coach Dave Cameron.
That leaves Robin Lehner to make the start yet again. He’s 1-4-0 in his last five starts with a .917 save percentage. He’s played fairly well over that stretch, but the team just can’t seem to find the win column since Anderson went down.
Offensively, they’re still being buoyed by their big three of Bobby Ryan (team-best 37 points), Erik Karlsson (35 points) and Kyle Turris (31 points). Ryan is kind of the epitome of the Senators right now: capable of big things, but often quiet. He’s still far and away the best offensive player the Senators have and capable of bringing down the house (see the section regarding the last time these two met).
About the Sabres: The Sabres are a house of fire lately, having won two of their last four after going 14-straight without a win or even a trip to extra time.
Jhonas Enroth has emerged as the legit #1 goalie, thanks in part to his own play (inconsistent as it may be) and the struggles of Michal Neuvirth. He’s capable of stealing a game or two for the Sabres here and there, but he kind of can’t be depended on to be a consistent #1.
Offensively, it’s been the Chris Stewart show of late. He’s got nine points in his last nine games, though he still remains somewhat streaky. He was non-existent through pretty much the early part of December before finally coming alive. Maybe he’s excited for the trade deadline and is trying to play himself into a better situation, but he’s had three multi-point games in his last nine and has shown the ability to be a difference-maker. It’s a shame his compete level fluctuates as hard as it does, because he could be an asset if he could be counted on to go 100% all the time.
The last time these two met: It was the Bobby Ryan show the last time out as Ryan registerd his fourth career hat trick in front of the Canadian Tire Centre crowd back on December 29th in a 5-2 Senators win.
The part where I predict things: It’s always hard to pick the Sabres. They are far and away the worst team in the league right now. Having said that, the Senators are floundering right now and they’re without two very important pieces in Phillips and Anderson. Lehner isn’t exactly a slouch, but it’s clear the demeanor shifts a bit for the Senators without Anderson.
The Sabres haven’t been in many competitive games these days, but this should be a tight one as both teams are still reeling a bit.
Score: 3-2 Senators
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