Saturday, October 18, 2008

Game preview, @ Ottawa 10/18

Boston finally gets to end their road season opening road trip tonight in Ottawa. And for a change, it is not the opposition's home opener. While the Sens were beating Phoenix 6-3 on home ice last night, the B's were sitting in their Ottawa hotel room. So that is one advantage going into the game. However, the Sens did get their Captain, Daniel Alfredsson back for last night's win, giving the Sens a potent top line. Boston will need to lock this line down. If they do, they should skate away with the win, as the Black & Gold has the better line-up, top to bottom.

As far as the line-ups go, Ottawa will go with the same as last night, which means Martin Gerber in net. Old friend Alex Auld will serve as his back-up.
For Boston, the goaltender will be......Manny Fernandez. I "guess" I understand the logic, but he just doesn't deserve the start over Timmy Thomas at this point. Thomas has done nothing but give the B's a chance to win every night. Manny hasn't shown that ability to this point in his Boston tenure. If Manny lets in one more soft goal tonight, Julien will have some explaining to do. It may be time for Chilly to bite the bullet and send him down, giving Rask the shot he deserves to play in the NHL.
Up front, Julien is juggling lines a little. Axe is back with Savard & Ryder. But Lucic will join Bergeron and Kessell on the second line. Sturm drops to the third line with Krejci and Wheeler (this could be a terrific combo). Fourth line again will feature Sobotka, Yelle and Thornton. These lines do provide decent balance up front, as much as I'm still not convinced Axe is a #1 winger. And, Lucic, as much as I love the kid, HAS to start burying chances if he's going to stay as the #2 LW.

Ottawa, amazingly, has yet to have a fighting major through four games this season. Boston only has one in their three games to this point. Wouldn't surprise me at all to see the boys get after it a bit tonight. Chris Neil is always game, and usually does something worthy of taking a beating for. Look for Thornton to renew acquaintances with Neil early. Same goes for ultra aggravating little rat, Jarko Ruutu. Ruutu has to rank right up there with Sean Avery and Darcy Tucker as the player you'd most like to punch in the eye. Ruutu hits late, from behind and often. Usually against the otehr teams top players (think of his hit on Jagr n the Olympics). Rarely will he back it up, but he will go if pressed. He went with Lucic last year, and I think this is where Looch drops the gloves for the first time this year. Sometimes you can just take so much, and I don't see Milan turning the other cheek for much longer. Cody Bass, a villain last year for his hit on Mark Stuart (and subsequent beat down by Thornton) is not supposed to be in the line up tonight. And long time heavyweight, Brian McGrattan, is now patrolling the beat for the Phoenix Coyotes. The net-net is, if Ottawa decides to instigate the chippy play that always seems to be a part of any Boston-Ottawa game, the B's are more than well equipped to handle it. B's have the edge in physicality, and skill up and down the lineup. Now if only Fernandez doesn't give it away.

B's keep up the torrid scoring pace, and put up a five spot on Gerber. Manny does everything he can to keep the Sens in it, but prevails for a 5-3 Boston win.
Luci & Ruutu go once. And Thornton and Neil go at least once, possibly twice if the first isn't a good one.

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