|Brian Elliott returns to the Senators net tonight in Edmonton to take on the Oilers (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Upon first glance, it appears the softest touch of what should be a challenging road trip.
But don't tell that to the Ottawa Senators, who are doing anything but looking past the Edmonton Oilers, whom they face tonight at Rexall Place (9:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) in the first stop of a three-game Western Canadian road trip.
While the Oilers (21-38-6) own the National Hockey League's worst record, they've also won back-to-back games against the Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils. Goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers allowed only one goal in the two victories, including a blanking of the Devils.
Not exactly what the Senators, who have scored just three goals in going 0-2-1 since the Olympic break, need to hear.
"They’ve had a couple of good games since the break," centre Mike Fisher said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "They’re a team that’s going to work hard. They’ve got some young guys and their goaltender has played pretty well lately. We’ve got to make sure we’re on top of our game and ready."
Captain Daniel Alfredsson
agreed, saying "you can’t take anybody in the league lightly today, even the teams at the bottom that don’t have much of a playoff chance. They’re playing for jobs and everybody’s so well-coached today that we’ve got to be ready."
"We look forward to this game," he added. "Playing in Canadian cities is always fun and it brings a lot of energy. I expect it to be a pretty fast-paced game tonight."
"You can’t take anybody in the league lightly today, even the teams at the bottom that don’t have much of a playoff chance. They’re playing for jobs and everybody’s so well-coached today that we’ve got to be ready." - Daniel Alfredsson
While the Senators will turn back to Brian Elliott in goal tonight, Senators head coach Cory Clouston expects Pascal Leclaire to get at least one start on this trip as well.
"Brian's numbers speak for themselves," said Clouston in explaining why he's giving Elliott the call tonight, even though Leclaire turned in a strong game in Saturday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Place. "Brian has played very well the last 25 games and we expect the same from him tonight."
After this evening's matchup with the Oilers, the Senators head north to take on the Calgary Flames on Thursday night (9:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200). Then the trip concludes with a visit to Vancouver's General Motors Place on Saturday to tangle with the Canucks (10 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). Around the boards
Defenceman Filip Kuba
(lower body) remains out and did not travel with the team to Edmonton ... Shean Donovan is tonight's healthy scratch ... The Senators' lines during the pre-game skate: Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson, Peter Regin-Mike Fisher-Alex Kovalev, Chris Kelly-Matt Cullen-Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu-Jesse Winchester-Ryan Shannon ... Saturday's matchup with the Canucks will mark the first hockey game at GM Place since Canada edged the United States 3-2 in overtime to claim the gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.