We take a look at 5 things about tonight's game against the Stars before the puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
1. Starting Goalies
After a rare break, Mike Condon is back between the pipes for the Sens tonight. Condon had appeared in every game since December 1st prior to Tuesday's contest against St. Louis so it was definitely a well deserved rest. His record on the season currently sits at 15-9-5. Andrew Hammond, who returned to action against the Blues, will back him up.
Nothing officially released from Dallas but Kari Lehtonen will likely get the start in goal for the Stars. Lehtonen's last start came this past weekend in a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks dropping his record on the year to 11-15-6.
2. Line-up notes
It'll be a different look for the Sens tonight as head coach Guy Boucher rolls with 11 forwards and 7 defencemen against the Stars. This isn't the first time this year the Sens have deployed this formation but the coach was looking for a way to re-insert Fredrik Claesson back into the line-up. Chris Neil and Curtis Lazar won't play as a result.
Here's how we think things will look tonight:
3. From the coach
Sens head coach Guy Boucher spoke with the media this morning and hit on a variety of topics before facing the Stars tonight...
On tonight's lineup:
Going 11-7. I want to put Claesson in, he did well for us. The last game he played wasn't as good but I thought the previous games were. I've wanted to do that for a long time. Today with Claesson being healthy and the rest of our D's being healthy; no one I want to take out gives me the possibility to do that.
On the one-year anniversary of the Phaneauf trade:
It was absolutely a necessary thing to do for the organization. Looking from afar I thought it was a great move. I knew him from before as I had him at the world championships. I knew since this team had a lot of young guys and with Erik taking a lot of the pressure alone on his shoulders, I think Dion coming in last year was terrific just like Kelly coming in this year. Those are tangibles that make all the difference in the world because they mature your team. I think that connection whether we see it in the room or off ice, not everyone knows it - Erik is really good friends with Dion now so they've created a great friendship but also it helps Erik share the leadership and not have the entire load on his shoulders. Somebody that's lived pressured situations before, has been in winning situations before, and who has the same type or ora that Erik, as a young guy, had…Dion had that same thing. So I think it's great for Erik to bounce back experiences and ideas, and share that leadership with somebody. Dion has been instrumental in the growth of this team in all kinds of ways so I think it's one of the reasons why this team has done better is the leadership. It's a lot more solid than it used to be from my point of view."
On the team:
We've played terrific games against Tampa, a short while ago and same with Washington and Pittsburgh. One thing that was clear was our zone entries. The biggest things we've created are tons of turnovers in the last two games, especially in the first period at the other team's blue line. This resulted in us being below and chasing the opponent, coming up back into our zone, and giving them space which is not our style.
The importance of generating and keeping momentum:
For me it's dictating the momentum. The play is the result of the momentum that you increment every shift because you're in the other team's zone, they have to defend too much and when they defend too much they take penalties, they get shots against, and you get confidence and momentum because you're having the shots, not them. You're not wasting all your energy trying to defend your zone because you're in the other team's zone and you haven't given them space. Any hockey player wants the space; nobody wants to play the no space game against gigantic defensemen. The reality is, as you move on in the season and into the playoffs, it is a no space game…We were experts at that, that was our goal at the beginning of the year and in the last games we got away from that. Maybe we lack respect towards the opponent in the last games because we thought we were better and we can't have that happen. So at least we give ourselves a chance by not turning over at the blue line.
4. Previous meeting
It's been nearly a year since these teams last squared off on March 6th 2016 with the Stars earning a 2-1 victory in Ottawa. Zack Smith's 18th of the season was the lone goal for the Sens while Andrew Hammond put in a solid 23 for 25 performance in defeat.
Full highlights from that game are below...
Video: Spezza, Roussel score as Stars edge Senators, 2-1
5. At the game
We've got ourselves a 7:30 p.m. start at Canadian Tire Centre tonight but it's always a good idea to get to the building a little earlier on Throwback Thursday so you can take advantage of some retro pricing. That's right, $1 hot dogs and $1 small Coca-Colas before 7 p.m. so grab some change and get here before the warm-up tonight.
We'll also be handing out the third poster in a 10-set series for our 25th anniversary celebrations. Tonight's poster depicts Roger Neilson's 1,000th game as an NHL head coach and as an added bonus tonight Sens alumni Todd White, who is depicted alongside Neilson in tonight's poster, will be in the Bell Fan Zone during the second intermission to sign them.
Can't make it to CTC tonight? Catch all the action on TSN5 and RDS2.