FACEOFF: 6:30pm Central
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio
The Hawks begin the Ontario two-step tonight in the capital, or actually outside the capital because the Canadian Tire Center is nowhere near Ottawa. It’s like in a field or something. called Kanata. And also, Canadian Tire doesn’t actually sell tires. I mean, it does sell tires but it’s much more like a Target than a Pep Boys. I know, they’re weird up there. Anyway, now that that’s out of the way…
The big story, and really the only story is that Scott Darling will get a third straight start. This is the smart way to go because A) it gives Crawford a couple extra days to recover from what’s pretty obviously a brown brain incident and B) extends the Darling audition to see if he should be the one backing up Crow instead of Antti Raanta. Unless Darling spits up all over himself tonight, it’s looking like how that’s going to go. Which is fine, because Raanta really needs to play regularly, and Darling has been accustomed to splitting time in his various travels. It also creates more cap space, y’know, just in case Stan gets a wild hair on his ass and wants to call up a genuine answer to the #2 center problem that still exists.
Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without Q shuffling his lines again. Tonight will see Sharp get to watch Shaw waste all his possession chances with lost faceoffs and boneheaded turnovers in his own zone, instead of building on the chemistry Sharp and Richards had seemed to have established. The slotting of Saad with Kruger and Smith looks like a return to the “3+1” model that Q likes to have, because Versteeg-Richards-Morin is clearly a third scoring/frantic action line. Seriously, Versteeg and Morin together is going to look like kindergarten recess football.
Also, there’s a handy “NARRATIVE” angle tonight as Marian Hossa returns to Ottawa just a hair shy of 1,000 points and everyone is going to stain their shorts if he gets it there.
The Sens played once in between the two meetings with the Hawks as well, dispatching the Jackets in Columbus with a three-goal 3rd period. They did this while not chugging a Sasha Grey-level of shot attempts against, which has been their M.O. this year. They’ve gotten wonderful goaltending from both Lehner and Anderson, and Lehner played in Ohio so you’d have to think the Hawks will get a second look at Anderson who stood tall against them last Sunday.
At home, Yosemite Sam behind the Ottawa bench is even less likely to try and stop things up, and the Sens tried to skate with the Hawks at the United Center anyway. With Karlsson, Ceci, Wiercioch B’Gosh, and more push from the blue line elsewhere, they’re not really built to do anything. It’s why they’re susceptible to giving up so many chances the other way, because the ice is very open. Especially when Karlsson is on the ice, a lot can happen at both ends of the ice. Rarely will Sens games be sleepy at least in terms of shot attempts.
Four days ago the Hawks really throttled the Sens at even-strength, leading to a gluttonous amount of power play chances that Seabrook was eventually able to cash in on to get the win. They made Anderson come up with some big saves. We’ve been talking about how the dam is going to break for the Hawks soon. With the Sens and Leafs on the schedule next, and both giving up over 30 shots per game, this looks like as likely a time as ever. So let’s do that.