Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Ottawa Senators
Venue: Canadian Tire Centre; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Time: 5:30 PM EST
The Detroit Red Wings (13-7-7, 33 points, 4th place Atlantic Division) all of a sudden find themselves in the middle of a hot streak over their past few games as they have now won three games in a row while outscoring their opponents 14-2 in that span. They will look to keep the good times rolling when they head across the border to take on the Ottawa Senators (10-12-4, 24 points, 6th place Atlantic Division) in a divisional showdown.
The biggest story of this game tonight will be the return of Daniel Alfredsson to the city of Ottawa. Alfredsson spent 17 seasons as the captain of the Senators and received a lot of flack for leaving the Senators and saying he felt he had the best chance of winning a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings. There will most likely be a mixed reaction when Alfredsson is announced Sunday evening as some fans felt betrayed by his decision to leave Ottawa.
The Red Wings continued their recent strong play Friday afternoon against the Islanders where they were led by Darren Helm and Alfredsson who each scored two goals to lead the Red Wings onslaught. Alfredsson also added an assist for a three point game. Gustav Nyquist added his 4th goal in five games this season and Jimmy Howard earned the shutout after stopping all 29 New York shots. It was a complete game for the Red Wings who have been searching for consistency nearly all season. The 5-0 victory over the Islanders came two days after they dominated the Boston Bruins on the night before Thanksgiving. The Red Wings play of late has been somewhat surprising after they struggled for nearly the entire month of November to not only get wins but get strong offense and goaltending. Perhaps this is the beginning of the Red Wings showing the elite team that many thought they were going to be when the season started. In order to keep that confidence growing, they are going to have to take out a team in Ottawa that has given them trouble in both matchups this season so far.
Ottawa comes into this evening's game with some fresh legs after getting a couple days off after a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Canucks on Thanksgiving night. The loss was their fifth in their past seven games. Ottawa has only won 10 games this season, but two of them have come against the Red Wings. The first was a convincing 6-1 victory over the Red Wings on October 23rd and the second was a chippy 4-2 win in Detroit on November 23rd. The offense has been up and down for the Senators as of late, though they have not had trouble scoring against the Red Wings. The Red Wings will need to tighten up defensively if they want to limit the chances the Senators get this game.
The Red Wings will use Jonas Gustavsson in net this evening in place of Howard who will get his next start on Wednesday against the Flyers. Gustavsson's play this season has earned him more consistent playing time coupled with Jimmy Howard's struggles to be a consistent number one goaltender this season.
It is tough to tell who Ottawa will counter with in net after Craig Anderson was pulled Thursday night in favor of Robin Lehner. The smart choice would be to put Lehner in net tonight after his strong play not only against the Red Wings this season but overall as Anderson has had his fair share of struggles this season.