Hey folks! It's time for the third game of this young season. Tonight your Atlanta Thrashers visit the Ottawa Senators in Scotiabank Place. I've got a quick preview of tonight's action. Remember, the game will not be televised by either the Thrashers or Senators, so your best bet is to listen to the game on 680 The Fan. (Tonight also happens to be a Georgia Tech football game, so I'm afraid yours truly will be catching up via the score sheet.)
Full preview is below the jump.
Tonight's game will be an interesting one: without Dany Heatley, the Ottawa Senators just don't have the same firepower they've had in the past. Sure, Daniel Alfredsson can still score - and score he will - but beyond that, this team is lacking offensive firepower. Don't just take my word for it, take a look at their games so far:
- 2G against the New York Rangers (5 allowed)
- 2G against the Toronto Maple Leafs (one on a penalty shot)
- 3G against the New York Islanders (one in overtime)
With 2.33G/G, Ottawa is tied at 26th with the Tampa Bay Lightning, ahead of only the Devils, Panthers, and Sabres. Sure, it's early in the new season, but that's a stat that should scare the Sens Faithful.
The Thrashers, on the other hand, are tied for 1st with 10 goals in 2 games (with the Los Angeles Kings, though the Kings have a 4.33GAA to the Thrashers' 2.5.)
Starting in goal tonight for the Sens is Brian Elliott. In his 31 games with the Sens last season, Elliott posted an impressive 16-8-3 record. Keep in mind, last year Ottawa finished just one game above 0.500. Word has it that the Sens will be juggling their lines for tonight's match.
Tonight's Thrashers lines should be the same as Thursday night:
Kovalchuk - Antropov - Little
Kozlov - White - Afinogenov
Kane - Peverley - Armstrong
Boulton - Reasoner - Thorburn
Bogosian - Enstrom
Hainsey - Kubina
Salmela - Schubert
Rather than Keys to the Game, I'm going to post a few Questions for the Night. This contest is a pretty straight-forward one. This is what I'll be asking myself:
- Can the Thrashers' penalty kill continue to perform this well? 3-for-3 against a pretty powerful St. Louis Blues team was no mistake. If we can continue to stay out of the box and kill penalties when we get them, this team will have a very good chance at not just at the playoffs, but at a division title.
- Can the Thrashers continue their balanced scoring attack? Don't look now, but other than Ilya Kovalchuk, nobody in the Thrashers' Top-6 has a goal this season. We've got 4 goals from Kovalchuk, 3 from our 3rd line, 1 from the 4th, and 2 from the D. We're also sitting pretty well with a 1.75 5-on-5 GF/GA (this is the stat that I believe to be the best indicator of a team's final record on the season. We're currently 4th.)
- Will Ondrej Pavelec keep getting the help he needs? He's done a great job so far of making the first save, but without support in front of the net, a lot more of those 1st saves will end up as second chances. This is perhaps the biggest question going forward. Can we continue to neutralize opposing forwards down-low?
I'll be back with more thoughts after the game!