The last time the Sens and Ducks met, it was in Ottawa and it was not pretty: The last of a five game nine night Canadian road trip, second of back to backs, Ilya Bryzgalov's first start of the season and a 6-2 drubbing. The conditions may be more favorable tonight, following a practice day at home and (as much as I hate to say it) Bryz potentially playing out the string of his career in Norfolk, not to mention three straight wins. But that isn't the whole story. Despite those three consecutive wins, the Ducks are still trying to pull themselves out of their worst run of form for the season.
The Sens, on the other hand, are in about as bad a standings position as possible, well out of the playoffs but no where near the tank-itude of the Buffalo Sabres et. al., but they are coming off of two wins of their own, home to Montreal and the 2015 Ducks' nemesis Florida Panthers as they start a five game Western Conference road trip tonight.
The biggest note on the Ottawa side of the ledger is in goal, where for the last two games Andrew Hammond has been starting in net, due to Craig Anderson having been out since January 21 with a hand injury and Robin Lehner out for a week with an upper body injury, potentially a concussion. The good news for the Sens, as noted above is that Hammond has won both of those games and both of their regular goalies are listed as day-to-day, with Anderson particularly on the road to recovery.
Up front, we have to check on our old buddy Bobby Ryan. It hasn't really been his year, his .283 goals per game pace is the second worst of his career, ahead of only the lockout shortened 2013 season (technically third if you count the 2008 season when he only played 23 games). However, he has been on one of his hot streaks lately, with six points in his last five games (including one pointless night against Montreal).
On defense, the Ducks won't have to contend with Jared Cowen as he is serving a three game suspension for a high hit on Jussi Jokinen. But of course the true threat from the back end is Erik Karlsson. As he did last year, Karlsson leads the Sens in points. The good news for the Ducks tonight, is that he is carrying his lowest 5v5 CF% (SAT%) since the 2010 season at 52.7%.
According to Eric Stephens, the status of newest Ducks Jiri Sekac for this game is in doubt due to visa issues as a Czech player coming from Montreal. One would assume that someone with a potential scoring touch, listed as a left wing (though he had been playing RW lately in Montreal) will eventually get a shot up with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. But for now the twins have been practicing with Kyle Palmieri, also good news in that he wasn't more seriously hurt at the end of Monday's game.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
As mentioned above, the Ducks are still in the doldrums of February. It's starting to look a little bit too much like last year when the Ducks struggled around the Olympics, rode their cushion to a division title and... well we all know what happened in the playoffs. As we harped on throughout this period last season, it's time for the Ducks to start getting their game in order (maybe along the lines of what those bastards in silver and black are doing) to avoid a third straight similar playoff fate.
Chris Phillips does what Chris Phillips does. (I almost made it without referencing '07, but couldn't help it)