The Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings meet each other tonight, as both teams desperately need a win, even if it's only for the sake of confidence, as the playoffs seem like a long shot.
Even while missing a big portion of their
offence with injuries (including Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Cleary and Tomas
Holmstrom), the Detroit Red Wings still have an offence that more than compensates for
their leaky defence and scrappy goaltending.
And if that’s how they do without Datsyuk and Cleary, the Ottawa Senators will need
to pull something special out of their collective asses if that pair return by
That leaky defence now ranks
at 18th in the NHL at 2.92 goals against per game. But the way the Senators are
going, they only managed 19 goals in January, I foresee Ottawa performing below
par and only getting a single goal, at best.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of their
ranking. "We got to fix it. We had it going not bad at one time this year
and probably in the last 20 games it hasn't been any good; our penalty-killing,
our goals against and our save percentage, everything."
Those of you who don’t consider the Devils
to be a decent yard stick for comparison, or just want to get your bets in
quickly, need only
look at the current form of the Sens to guess what’s going to happen. January was a bad month for Ottawa and the
Senators only managed one regulation win all month, not a great start to
2011. Plus Ottawa have lost seven
straight at home and their goaltender Brian Elliott is 0-7-4 since they beat
the Penguins on Boxing Day.
Before they test their metal against the
Red Wings, Ottawa have to take on the Devils. Expect them to be run ragged by
the tough New Jersey side (which will leave them less than daisy-fresh when
they face the Wings on Wednesday). If the Devils get off to a good start expect
them to run out winners because the Sens have a 0-17-3 record in games in which
they trail after two periods.
More bad news for the Sens is that Alex
Kovalev is an injury worry after taking a shot in the face on Tuesday while he
sat on the bench. Tough cookie that he
is, he managed to finish the game, but it’s not yet known if he’ll be back on
the ice on Wednesday night. It hasn’t
been the best of seasons for Ottawa who are now 17-25-8 (ahead of the Devils
match) and look likely to be missing the playoff for the second time in three
years. They have no one but themselves
to blame as they followed the mid-season break by going 1-6-3 and promptly
plummeted to last in the Northeast Division.
Last Tuesday, the Senators did manage a
point in a 3-2 overtime loss to Buffalo, when defenseman Sergei Gonchar ended
the team's eight-game drought without a power-play goal, but that’s scant
silver lining to the grey cloud that is 2011.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson is going back to basics in his team talks,
"It's still a matter of us not scoring enough to really make it easier on
ourselves and we're going to have to find a way to put more pucks in the net or
it's going to be the same thing, a lot of tight games or we'll be behind."
If I was forced to pick a winner between
those two I’d go for the Devils. So, if
the Devils can beat the Senators and the Wings beat the Devils...why shouldn’t
the Wings beat the Senators?
Wings win 4-1