The Ottawa Senators and the Atlanta Thrashers have already met up once this season on November 9th, with the Thrashers walking away the proud owners of a 5-2 loss. That was before Ondrej Pavelec made his name known league wide for stellar play; Chris Mason was in net that night and most of the team was out to lunch. Just a week later, though, the Thrashers' would name Andrew Ladd captain and go on a winning tear that helped the team move comfortably into playoff contender territory.
The Senators? Well, let's say that their current situation isn't as rosy. The only player on their roster with more than seven goals is Daniel Alfredsson. The Thrashers? Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd each have ten, while Evander Kane (nine), Anthony Stewart (eight) are also outscoring Alfredsson. Thrashers Nik Antropov, Rich Peverley, Niclas Bergfors, and Bryan Little all have seven goals apiece. The Senators' power-play is converting at only 18.3%, while Atlanta's is a very successful 23.1%. The Thrashers also average almost a full goal a game more than the Senators do (3.13 to the Sens' 2.19).
Offense isn't the Senators' only problem. Their penalty kill is 28th in the league at 78.9% effectiveness. This isn't something that's going to help much when you're playing against the league's fourth best powerplay. The whole team's struggling, including star player Alexei Kovalev, who had this to say about his demotion to the fourth line:
"There's nothing I can do about it. I'm not the only one not playing well, and he decides to pick me. It's been happening my whole career. I accept that."
The Thrashers will be putting Ondrej Pavelec out on ice to start tonight, while the Senators are trotting out Brian Elliot (who is 1-5-1 with a 3.44 GAA since I picked him up on several fantasy teams). Your goalie match up for tonight:
|2010 - Ondrej Pavelec||19||1040||9||6||31||1.79||556||525||.944||2|
|2010 - Brian Elliott||21||1126||10||9||54||2.88||599||545||.910||3|
Freddy Modin and Tim Stapleton are in tonight again for Ben Eager and Niclas Bergfors. I'm not sure how beneficial this is to the line-up considering that the team the past two games has been flat both with and without them. Coach Ramsay on the line-up tweaks:
"Even though we haven’t carried a lot of extra players, players have to understand it’s not automatic [to get back in the lineup], Ramsay said. "The way our players are playing, if you get out, it might be difficult to get back in. So you have to perform. You have to be on top of your game. You can’t be looking to take nights off.
"I just think that Stapleton fit right in. I thought Freddy did a good job. He had some good forechecks, he held the puck and made some good plays defensively. I was very, very pleased with both of them. When a guy steps in and plays hard, he deserves a chance to play again."
It'll be interesting to see when Coach Ramsay sees fit to bring Bergfors back. Hopefully it'll be by Saturday's game against the New Jersey Devils.