Thursday, March 18, 2010

Game Day Preview: Ottawa at Atlanta

Apologies for the lack of Post-Game Roll Call after the battle of Ontario. It was a depressing game, and yesterday Oakes and I celebrated the Irish Culture a little too hard, so no Post game could be done then either.

Upon reading our battle of Ontario preview we decided it might be a touch too long... so I'll cut it down a bit this time, and maybe you guys can tell us what you prefer.

Without further ado... Let's see how our Sens match up against the Thrashers


Thrashers: Since the departure of their superstar, the Thrashers have found that they can have a much more balanced attack. Their top two lines don't boast any big names, but Afinogenov-Antropov-Bergfors has played very well as of late, and Bergfors may help keep Don Waddell his job with 11 points in 14 games with the Thrashers. Don't underestimate the Thrashers offense however, because at 2.9 goals per game, they crack the top ten in the NHL

Senators: Much has been made about the Sens inability to find the back of the net since the Olympic break. The Sens offense is struggling right now, and confidence may be an issue. With Nick Foligno coming back last game and providing a spark and Mike Fisher possibly making a return, the Sens have a strong looking line-up that should find the net. Hopefully they are able to build confidence tonight.

OVERALL EDGE IN FORWARDS: Thrashers (due to confidence issues)


Thrashers: Again, the Thrashers have a defensive core whose names don't inspire fear in opponents, but this is largely due to the fact they are younger players. Oduya, Bogosian and especially Enstrom are young, exciting players who in the next few years should give the Thrashers stability. Kubina and Hainsey provide some veteran leadership to this group. The only knock is that they really don't have a "shut-down" pair, which has resulted in them being 28th in the league for goals-against at 3.16 per game.

Senators: The (hopeful) return of Filip Kuba should help young Erik Karlsson get back to doing what he does best, without having to over-extend himself. Andy Sutton will be looking to prove something after being out of position on the second and third goals against Toronto on Tuesday. Philchenkov as always anchors the group and they will be charged with shutting down the solid Thrashers offense.



Powerplay: Ottawa's powerplay is ICE cold right now, but the return of Filip Kuba (hopefully) should help. While Ottawa has struggled, they remain at 15.5%, and the Thrashers are at 16.5% on the year. Now, without Kovalchuk on the left point, their powerplay doesn't strike much fear in opponents. This is a draw for me.

Penalty Kill: As stated in the last post, Ottawa's strong penalty kill has been a major reason for their position in the standings. Atlanta on the other hand is sitting in 22nd overall at 80.2%. Without question, Ottawa gets the edge here.



Elliott vs Hedberg: Brian Elliott clearly has the confidence of coach Cory Clouston and hopefully he is right. I don't know if I'm sold. Regardless Hedberg has lost 4 of his last 5 starts, and his numbers have been poor (sub 900 save percentage). Neither team has goaltending as a strength.

EDGE OVERALL IN GOAL: Neither. It's a draw.

Players to Watch

Ottawa: I'm watching Nick Foligno. He looked excited to be in the line-up against the Buds, but looked a little rusty with the puck. Look for him to have a strong game.

Atlanta: For me, the return on Kovalchuk, Nick Bergfors, is the player to watch. He is coming into his own in this league and can put a couple in the back of the net if left unchecked.

Consensus Predictions:

Young: The boys haven't given me a reason to think they will win this game, and Atlanta is making their final push to the playoffs. Add in the fact that this is a road game, and this is a recipe for a sad night.

4-3 (SO) Atlanta

Oakes: Breakout game.... I hope. After the comments in the media the last few days I truly believe that they will come out flying and not let up. If Kuba comes back this is an Ottawa win hands down. People under estimate the stability he brings to the back end.
  • 3-0 Ottawa
  • We will score 1 pp goal.
  • Greg Carvel will do a cart wheel on the bench.
  • Kovalev will break out of his mini slump
  • Sen's fans will rejoice.
  • Little will fake illness to avoid a repeat of this

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