Wednesday, December 13, 2017

OTT @ BUF--Two troubled teams collide at KeyBank

Published by, 12-12-2017

The Ottawa Senators will play the last game of a seven-game/15-day road trip tonight as they visit KeyBank Center to take on the Buffalo Sabres. And by the looks of it, they can't wait for it to be over.

Ottawa lost 2-1 at Montreal on November 29th then followed with a 6-5 win in Brooklyn against the NY Islanders. The Sens had a stop in Winnipeg before they made their way to California for three more games and the results have been miserable. The Jets embarrassed Ottawa in a 5-0 shutout and Anaheim shut them out 3-0. They their first goal in 154:46 against Los Angeles, took the Kings to overtime but proceeded to lose on a goal 33 seconds into the extra session. They followed that up by getting shut out 5-0 in San Jose'.

The Senators come into Buffalo tonight limping badly and it wasn't supposed to be that way after acquiring Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche in a three-way deal on November 5. Duchene was thought to be the No. 1 center they'd been lacking and they paid a hefty price which included trading a first and a third round pick, former first round pick Shane Bowers (2017, 28th-overall,) and goalie Andrew Hammond to Colorado as well as sending C, Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators go consummate the deal.

After winning their first two games with Duchene in the fold, it was the Sens who folded as they went winless in their next six (0-5-1) prior to their present road trip. In their last 12 games Ottawa is 1-9-2, have been shut out four times, have scored two or less goals in six of those games and have allowed four or more goals in six of those contests.

Buffalo has had their own woes to deal with as well. From November 10 to December 2, the Sabres went 1-9-2. They scored two or fewer goals in nine of those games and were shut out a franchise record three games in a row spanning  232:09, or almost four full games. The Sabres came out of that morass with a 4-2 win in Colorado and managed loser points at Chicago and St. Louis.

Ottawa is second-last in the Eastern Conference with 25 points in 28 games while the Sabres are dead last with only 20 points in 30 games.

If you read this far and somehow managed not to poke your eyes out, congratulations and thanks for reading.

The Sabres have a quick turnaround after flying home from St. Louis on Sunday. They managed a comeback with two third period goals against the Western Conference-leading Blues but were felled in overtime 3-2 and all-in-all they actually had a pretty good road trip as they managed to get four of a possible six points. Prior to the St. Louis game, the Sabres were close to adding another point on Friday in Chicago but they blew a one-goal lead with 3:22 left in regulation vs. the Blackhawks and lost in overtime.

With both teams in the dregs, the rumor-mill is churning for both clubs. Word from insiders have NHL teams looking at Buffalo is if they're "open for business" with everybody on the team except for Jack Eichel. The Senators, according to Elliotte Friedman, have asked their players with no-trade clauses to submit their lists and that includes defenseman Erik Karlsson, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. Karlsson signed a 7yr.$45.5 million contract in June, 2012 and has a no-trade clause this year and next.

Most felt that the Senators overachieved last season when they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, but apparently management thought differently and pulled off the trade for Duchene. With the team falling apart after acquiring Duchene, it looks as if they want to blow it up and players like Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone are back in the rumor-mill.

With the Sabres coming off a fairly successful road trip, a win over the Senators could help them get on their feet as they're coming into tonight's matchup on a three-game point-streak. According to Sabres PR, the Sabres are 6-2-2 in their last 10 vs. the Senators and have are on an eight-game point-streak (6-0-2.) Buffalo has also won three in a row vs. Ottawa.

Robin Lehner gets the start tonight against his former team. Lehner is 4-0-2 in eight appearances and has a 1.30 goals-against average and .959 Sv%.


Sabres bench boss Phil Housley shook up the lines at the game day skate this morning. Reports have these as the lines:

Pouliot, Eichel, Pominville
Girgensons, O'Reilly, Okposo
Kane, Rodrigues, Reinhart
Nolan, Larsson, Wilson

Housley moved Kane off of the Eichel line and Girgensons up after playing in only one game since being benched. Girgensons was on the ice with the goalie pulled and the Sabres down by one. He provided a screen on Marco Scandella's shot from the point and he rebound kicked out to a wide open Evand Rodrigues who buried the rebound for his second goal of the game.

Rookie Hudson Fasching will be in the press box tonight along with a still-injured Jacob Josefson. Housley said Josefson is week-to-week, but looked good skating today.


The blueline looks to be the same with:


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