Thursday, March 13, 2008

Eastern War: Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens

The game of the night is, without question, the Northeast Division battle between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. The teams are separated by 2 points in with Montreal leading the division and 2nd in the conference. A win by Ottawa tonight would have them swap spots in the East with Montreal, putting the Canadiens in fifth and the Senators in 2nd. Historically, the Senators have gotten the better of the Canadiens in these games but with Montreal winning 6 of their last eight behind the stellar play of Carey Price and Ottawa still struggling to regain the consistency and intensity that lead to a phenomenal start to the season, perhaps the tables will finally turn. Thus far, Montreal has only won one out of the five games against Ottawa this season with the last being an embarrassing 6-1 shellacking in Ottawa.

The top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley has give the Habs troubles all season long, notching a total of 33 points in the five previous meetings. However, one part of the Sens triangle of power will be missing as Alfredsson will sit for his fifth straight game with back spasms. Martin Gerber will make his seventh consecutive starts, the highest this season as Ottawa has clearly placed their season squarely on the shoulders of the 33 year old goaltender relegating Ray Emery to the backup role. Gerber has been good in his last three games where he's won twice and hasn't allowed more than 2 goals in a game and has a 1.35 GAA with .959 save percentage.

This will the first of the teams' three remaining games in the season. It should be playoff intensity with a tremendous amount of pressure on a young goaltender looking solidify his role, an aging goaltender looking to prove his critics wrong, and two teams battling for the coveted division title.

Update: Daniel Alfredsson will play after all which gives Ottawa a huge boost and shows just how important this game is to both teams. We're in for a good one.

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