Thursday, November 17, 2011

Game Day: Senators vs Oilers **UPDATE**

Ottawa (9-9-1) vs Edmonton (9-6-2)

Time:      7:30pm
Where:   Rexall Place
Watch:    Sportsnet Oilers
Listen:    630 Ched

Projected Line Combinations

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky
Lander - Belanger - Jones
Petrell - *Gagner* - Eager


Sam Gagner was again not on the ice for practice so it looks like Paajarvi will draw back into the lineup. You would think he would play on the third line with Belanger and Jones but maybe Renney gives him a whirl at centre. How about trying a Jones-Lander-Paajarvi line?


Edmonton's new line combinations remained intact at Wednesday practice, with one exception. Sam Gagner missed practice with a sore back but coach Tom Renney said it didn't appear to be anything serious. He told the media that he expected Sam to be ready to go against the Sens, which means Magnus Paajarvi will once again be scratch. Why they would decide to sit Paajarvi to play Anton Lander out of position is beyond me but I'm the one who thinks these lines are an absolute joke. To make matters worse, Renney hinted that if Gagner wasn't able to go that he would seriously consider playing Paajarvi in his place at centre. Seems curious when you have a centre in Lander playing out of position but it seems to be par for the course.

Defence Pairings
Gilbert - Smid
Potter - Peckham

Sutton - Petry

Edmonton has all of six healthy defencemen at the moment so they are obviously all going to be in the lineup against the Sens. The blueline had three tough outings in succession to end the road trip and they will be looking to right the ship on home ice.

Even though he has lost his last two starts, Nikolai Khabibulin will once again start in goal. While he has not been unbeatable the last two games, he has arguably still been their best player, despite giving up eight goals over the two games. Tough to say when Devan Dubnyk might get back in but with the Oilers not playing again until Saturday, I would expect  Khabibulin to face his former mates for the second time in a week on Saturday night. Dubnyk would likely get one of the back to back games on Monday and Tuesday, which will make it a week and half in between starts.

Ottawa Notes

  • Sens blueliner Erik Karlsson has been outstanding thru the first month and a half of the season. The mega talented rear guard has put up an eye popping 16 assists in nineteen games and he seems to be gaining more and more confidence with every outing. While the youngster can be a bit of a side show in his own end, he has quickly become one of, if not the premier, offensive defencemen in the league. The kid is an absolute joy to watch with the puck and seems willing to try anything out on the ice.
  • Milan Michalek's unreal start to his campaign continues, as he know sits with 11 goals on the season. After struggling to find his game during his first two seasons in Ottawa, the talented Czech looks like the player that the Sens thought they were acquiring from San Jose in the Dany Heatley trade. While no one expects Michalek to keep this pace up, do not be surprised if he cracks the 40 goal mark. The guy is that good.
  • Craig Anderson has been really good or really bad, which is pretty much his thing. He has always been a guy that tends top play better when he faces a lot of shots but with the current edition of the Senators, that can sometimes be a little much. He comes into tonight's game on a two game winning streak and fresh off a 38 save performance against Calgary on Tuesday night. The Sens netminder has stopped 69 of the last 72 shots fired his way so the Oilers will be facing him at the top of his game. Anderson has always played well against Edmonton and has four of his sixteen career shutouts against the Oilers.
  • The Sens will be missing  Matt Carkner (knee), Peter Regin (shoulder) and Chris Neil (ankle) from their lineup, as all three players are currently on the IR.

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