Ottawa Senators (20-18-8) at Minnesota Wild (25-18-5)
|Date & Time||Tuesday January 14, 2014, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Minnesota Wild -142 / Ottawa Senators +129 --- Over/Under: 5
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The Senators look to jump back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they take to the road to face off against the Minnesota Wild.
The Senators will look for an inspired effort in the second half of the season as they hope to qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs for the third consecutive season but this time will have to do so with much greater expectations. Ottawa has been a Cinderella team for the past two years as they were given virtually no shot to be competitive in each of those campaigns but made the playoffs regardless and were very strong in doing so. However, the team is playing its first season without Daniel Alfredsson is close to two decades as the long-time captain bolted to Detroit this offseason and the team has struggled to fill his void both on and off the ice. Ottawa gets a chance at retribution tonight as they head into Minnesota to take on former Senators forward Dany Heatley who is coming off one of his best games of the season in Minny’s latest victory. Robin Lehner gets the call for the Senators while Nik Backstrom will go for Minnesota.
The Wild have been a very solid team at home this season as they are 16-6-2 at the Xcel Energy Center and they’ll look to close the gap on the big three in the Central division by finding their 17th. Minnesota is a very well built team that is strong in all facets of the game but they are certainly missing their on and off ice leader in Josh Harding as he continues to battle illness. The confidence playing in front of anyone other than Harding seems to be much lower and while he could very well be back soon the team will have to move on without him and find a way to win hockey games with Backstrom in net. The Wild match up well against Ottawa as they are deep up front and can use the body but the Sens have the goaltending edge as Robin Lehner is one of the better young goalies in the game and will be looking to assert himself as the team’s starter for the rest of the year. It is very rare I go against the Wild at home but to me they’re a very solid option here and if I am going to splash in this game it’ll be with the visitors.