Sens seeking a bolt of offence
Lightning's aggressive attack 'a challenge' for Ottawa tonight
|Mike Fisher and the Senators know they'll need a little more offence against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at Scotiabank Place (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images).
When the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against each other during the 2008-09 season, the winning side didn't need any more than three goals to grab a pair of points. Two of the Senators' three victories came by the shutout route (3-0 and 2-0).
Still, Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston looks at a Tampa roster that includes the red-hot Martin St. Louis (three goals, six assists in five games), Steven Stamkos (three goals, three assists) and Ryan Malone (five goals), and he sees a major test tonight (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200) for his offensively challenged team.
"They’re getting lots of goals," Clouston said of the Lightning (2-1-2) after his team's pre-game skate earlier today. "They’re playing a lot more aggressive in the offensive zone. They cycle the puck very well and they’re healthy. They’ve added a few new players and Stamkos is another year older. They’re a very dangerous team and they’ve played well so far this season."
The Senators (3-2-0), meanwhile, have only 12 goals in five games of action so far and their power play has only lit the lamp once in 15 chances (6.7 per cent), which ranks 29th among 30 National Hockey League teams. Needless to say, offence has been the team's focus during practice and video sessions this week.
"We've been finding ways in games to get goals when we've needed them, with the exception of last game (a 4-1 home-ice loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday)," said centre Mike Fisher, whose two goals and four points share the team scoring lead with captain Daniel Alfredsson (rookie Peter Regin also has two goals). "We've been doing some good things, but we've got to make a few adjustments offensively ... get a little more traffic (in front of the net).
"We'd like to be drawing a few more penalties, too. If we can do that, our power play can start clicking."
"It would be nice to have a game where we can draw six or seven power plays and bang a couple in," he said. "But we don't control that. We just want to try to win the games. If we can win some hockey games, it doesn't matter how we're getting the goals or who's getting them.
"You just have to move the puck quick (on the power play), you’ve got to be patient and you’ve got to have some composure. Composure on the power play is real important, just to take your time and make the right plays
While the injured Regin (lower body) and Jesse Winchester (right knee) both took the pre-game skate today, Clouston said neither will be ready for game action until Saturday at the earliest, when the Senators travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
Defenceman Filip Kuba (lower body), meanwhile, is expected to return to the ice Friday or Saturday. Clouston is hopeful the veteran Czech blueliner will be good to go for the Nashville Predators' visit to Scotiabank Place on Oct. 22.
Around the boards
The forward alignment for the Senators remains the same as the team used Monday against the Penguins. Here are the lines: Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Jonathan Cheechoo; Alex Kovalev-Mike Fisher-Daniel Alfredsson; Nick Foligno-Ryan Shannon-Chris Neil, and Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Shean Donovan. Defence pairings: Anton Volchenkov-Chris Phillips, Alex Picard-Matt Carkner and Chris Campoli-Erik Karlsson ... Tonight's matchup is the first of nine Subway Savings Games this season, with all regular-priced tickets 20 per cent off.