Preview: Ottawa Senators (16-9-2) @ Los Angeles Kings (13-11-2)
How to Watch and What to Watch For
I’ll be honest, when I sat down to start putting together this pregame piece, I had a few questions:
- Do I even know anyone who follows the Sens?
- Are they a real team?
- Does anyone play for them other than Erik Karlsson?
- Holy crap how is their record 16-9-2?
After some digging, I found a few answers:
- Apparently no.
- Apparently yes.
- Hey, remember those Dion Phaneuf-to-the-Kings rumors from a while ago?
- Uncertain, their current record makes no sense.
The Sens haven’t really been on anyone’s radar as a Cup contender or even a lock for a playoff team lately. Their appearance a few years ago, on the back of a magical run from goalie Andrew Hammond, was a great story but ultimately not something the Sens have been able to replicate. Yet they’re second in the Atlantic right now and have won six of their last ten. The Senators beat the Sharks 4-2 on Wednesday, but also took a loss in a wild game against the Penguins, where the Sens scored five goals and still lost. (The Penguins scored eight, so.) Strange, huh?
Normally I’d say the Sens would be an easy target for the Kings, who are looking to get back on track after losing to teams they probably shouldn’t have lost to. But somehow, maybe inexplicably, the Sens are -- by record, at least -- a formidable opponent.
The Kings, meanwhile, despite all their fancystats, failed pretty hard at the most important part of hockey, which is scoring goals. Darryl Sutter went to his line blender pretty quickly whenever the offense sputtered against the Hurricanes -- Jeff Carter was on a wing, no one stayed on a line for long, and still, no one had more than three shots on goal (Nolan, Carter, Doughty).
The jumbled up nonsense lines are mostly going away, based off of the last practice, but Andy Andreoff should return post-injury, and Devin Setoguchi looks to draw back in. Nic Dowd and Kyle Clifford should be the scratches. While Dowd got off to a hot start for the season, his play has trailed off as of late, so further breaking up the briefly effective Brown-Dowd-Setoguchi line isn’t too much of a surprise. Defensive pairings should stay the same. Goalies, indeterminate, it doesn’t seem like Sutter’s got much faith in Zatkoff yet.
We’ll see -- bright and afternoon-early-ish, since this one’s another matinee game.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Gaborik - Kopitar - Lewis
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Brown - Andreoff - Setoguchi
King - Shore - Nolan
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Gravel - Greene
Hoffman - Brassard - Stone
Dzingel - Turris - Ryan
Smith - Pageau - Pyatt
Robinson - Kelly - Neil
Methot - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Wideman
Ceci - Borowiecki
Opposing Preview: Silver Seven Sens