Game Preview: Ottawa Senators at Minnesota Wild


The Minnesota Wild host the Ottawa Senators tonight in St. Paul. Both teams are riding a hot streak and working to secure a postseason spot.

Ottawa is three games in to a five-game road trip, shutting out the Duck and Kings last week, and beating the Sharks 4-2 on Saturday. Ottawa has won seven of its last nine, and looks to push its current win streak to six. However, their new-found winning abilities have not secured them a playoff spot as they still sit seven points behind the last wild card spot.

The Wild finished its red-hot February this weekend with a record of 11-2-1. Minnesota holds the second wild card spot with a 3 point cushion over the Los Angeles Kings. Check out Alex’s story on how Devan Dubnyk earned the NHL’s first star of the month by backing his team into a playoff spot.

More from Editorials

Chris Stewart and Jordan Leopold, two of the trade deadline acquisitions yesterday, will make their Wild debuts tonight. If you haven’t yet, check out the trade stories on Stewart and Leopold. On KFAN this morning Mike Yeo reported Jordan Schroeder will be a healthy scratch and Stewart will play right-wing on the second line with Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek. Leopold will fit into the third defensive pairing according to Mike Russo of the Star Tribune.

Marco Scandella is reportedly out for a week and Jared Spurgeon hasn’t fully recovered from concussion like symptoms but is starting to skate and could return as soon as Thursday.

It will be interesting to see how the Vanek-Koivu-Stewart line works out. Vanek has been visibly lackluster at times this season, failing to engage in board battles, back check with speed, or maintain good puck control (especially when passing). Stewart has also been criticized for his streaky play quality. Perhaps Mike Yeo wants to throw a change-up (so-to-speak) in his lineups. The majority of Wild play is fast-paced fore-checking and the Vanek-Koivu-Stewart line will likely demonstrate much more methodical positioning in contrast to the tenacity we see from players like Zach Parise.

The Senators chose to stick to their current roster through yesterday’s trade deadline. Their group is overall healthy and playing well. Well, healthy with the very notable exceptions of goaltenders Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, who are both out. That hasn’t hindered the Senators though, with goaltender Andrew Hammond stepping to the plate. To this point he’s played seven NHL games, with the majority of them coming in the last two weeks. He’s running with a .957 Sv% which includes shutting out the Kings and Ducks on the road in back-to-back nights.

While the Senators are technically considered a bubble team (7 points back of 8th place with 2 games in hand), my gut is telling me that Senators’ upper management is not expecting a playoff run this year. Therefore, no new acquisitions and no player trades for picks. Perhaps if the Senators had lost a few more games in their last ten, and a playoff berth looked impossible they would have looked to get a few draft picks for some of their players with expiring contracts. With their current situation in the standings, they’re caught in no mans land; unable to give up on the season, but unlikely to succeed in a playoff push.

Tonight is an exciting game for Minnesota Wild fans. The Wild looks to keep their momentum and the Xcel Energy Center will welcome two new players into its fold. Tune in tonight at 7:00 P.M. CST as the Wild take on an Eastern Conference foe.