As Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray looks at tonight's opponents, he sees an Atlanta Thrashers squad sitting in first place in the Southeast Division with 25 points (11-3-3). He also sees a lineup that boasts the league's top two scorers: Marian Hossa (13-11-24) and Ilya Kovalchuk (12-11-23).
Murray recognizes the offensive punch that this team packs.
"We know their power play first of all is terrific (ranked sixth overall)," said Murray after this morning's pre-game skate. "They shoot the puck a ton. They move the puck and play a fast game. They draw penalties because of their speed and take advantage of teams in that area."
Murray also sees a team whose success has buoyed its performance. "They're having fun. I watched their skate (this morning) and their last few games," he says. "They're playing with real confidence and that's what you do when you win."
With defenceman Wade Redden back in the lineup tonight after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury, blueliner Christoph Schubert stays in as a safety net but will most likely see duty on the left wing. A decision will be made at game-time for the healthy scratch.
Goaltender Ray Emery, who suffered a left forearm injury at Tuesday's practice, will not dress tonight. He is listed as day-to-day.