7:00 p.m., Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The Penguins are now in Ottawa to start the stretch run of the season. There are nine games left before the Stanley Cup playoffs start and now that we know the Penguins are in it (after the win over Nashville) so the only thing left is to figure out who they are going to play.
With a loss by the Rangers last night the Penguins are now in prime position to take the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers are sitting with 99 points and only eight games left while the Penguins have 98 points with nine games left. A win tonight doesn't mean that the Penguins take over that spot because the Rangers are playing the second of a back-to-back against Toronto Maple Leafs and if both teams win the Rangers will be one point ahead even though they will have played one more game. This is interesting though as it puts the Penguins in the driver seat for the top spot.
Ottawa has had a pretty good season and they are even only three points back of the Bruins for the second overall seed in the conference (they also have played two more games though). They will be going with Ben Bishop tonight in net as Craig Anderson doesn't seem ready to play yet as he is coming off an injury.
With as good as Ottawa has been they have been really struggling as of recent. They are currently on a three game losing streak and have lost five of their last six with the only winning coming in a shootout over Montreal. The last regulation win for the Sens was March 8 over the Rangers.
Brad Thiessen will be in net for the Penguins tonight which means that the Penguins will go with Marc Andre Fleury tomorrow against the Devils. Totally makes sense to set it up like this although Dan Bylsma usually uses MAF on the front end of back-to-back's but I think that we can all agree that New Jersey is a more dangerous opponent than Ottawa, no matter how Ottawa's season has gone and that they currently hold a 2-1 season advantage over the Pens.
Should be fun to watch Evgeni Malkin play as we now know that he has a chance to reach the 50 goal plateau and even an outside shot to catch Steve Stamkos (although very unlikely) for the Rocket Richard trophy. I think that Geno has already wrapped up the Hart trophy with a 10 point lead over the closest competition.
Should be a great one.
The season series (Ottawa leads 2-1):
November 25, 2011 - Pittsburgh 6, Ottawa 3
December 16, 2011 - Ottawa 6, Pittsburgh 4
January 10, 2012 - Ottawa 5, Pittsburgh 1
The Penguins probables (via Empty Netters):
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Sidney Crosby - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams - Arron Asham
Kris Letang - Paul Martin
Brooks Orpik - Zbynek Michalek
Ben Lovejoy - Deryk Engelland
The Senators probables (via Empty Netters):
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Colin Greening
Zack Smith - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil
Rob Klinkhammer - Kasars Daugavins - Erik Condra
Erik Karlsson - Filip Kuba
Sergei Gonchar - Jared Cowen
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner