After winning their last two games, the New Jersey Devils will face-off against the Ottawa Senators tonight at 7:30 at Scotiabank Place.
No one expected the Senators to be a power in the Eastern Conference this season. This was especially the belief after they hit (or missed) a strike-out in the injury department. Star players Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, and Erik Karlsson are currently all on injured reserve with long-term injuries. About one month ago, goaltender Craig Anderson was also placed on injured reserve. Despite all these significant injuries, the Senators are fifth in the Eastern Conference.
The Sens’ success has originated from Sergei Gonchar, Ben Bishop, and Robin Lehner. Gonchar leads Ottawa in scoring with 22 points and has collected 20 assists. Bishop and Lehner have held down the fort in goal recently and have an overall combined record of 9-5-4. Expect Lehner to get the start tonight as he has started the last two for the Sens and has a goals against average of 2.05 on the season.
New Jersey Devils
Oh man, will it be tough without Ilya Kovalchuk! Kovalchuk has been a constant presence in the Devils line-up this season and is second on the team in scoring with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists). He will be missed, especially on the power-play. So who will fill this huge hole?
Travis Zajac and Alexei Ponikarovsky are two players that need to start producing more. Zajac has only registered 13 points this season, and will now most likely see some more first line action. Ponikarovsky has netted one goal and has amassed four points in 17 games with the Devils this season. He also had two goals while with the Winnipeg Jets earlier this season. Both players did not register a point in the first meeting with the Senators, and I think they are going to need to contribute tonight for the Devils to get two points. We can’t count on Martin Brodeur scoring for us again.
Tonight’s match-up is the second of three meetings between the Sens and Devils. On February 18, Ottawa defeated New Jersey 2-1 in a shootout at the Prudential Center. The teams will meet for a third time on April 12 at the Rock.
The Devils look to improve to 16-11-6 and move up in the standings, while the Senators are poised to continue their home dominance. They are 11-2-3 at Scotiabank Place this season.