The high flying Ottawa Senators begin their western swing tonight in Vancouver with a highly anticipated game against the Canucks. Bringing their firewagon style of play to GM Place and a sold out crowd.
With Vancouver having had pretty well a week off to prepare, the media has been pumping this one since Monday morning. Every sports cast seems to have focused on the game between to top Canadian teams. As the Canucks slip behind the Flames in the Northwest Division the concern over the Canucks grew day by day.
The talk shows airwaves are filled with countless Bob's from Coquitlam and Sam from Chemanius with their thoughts on how the Canucks can match up against the Beast of the East. Even the television gurus of Toronto have noticed that this is a game everyone is talking about, originally scheduled as a Sportsnet Pacific only game, the Toronto based network has added Sportsnet East/Ottawa to the party for Friday night, with the game to be aired in both markets and will include the Hockey Central panel live at GM place as a pre-game and intermission bonus.
The Senators bring hockey's best line into town Friday on a roll, the Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson the Senators trio has been burning up the scoring stats so far this season and they bring their exciting play to the rink for the fans in BC.
Some of those fans may actually be sitting on the Canuck's bench, the Canucks have been unusually high in praise about their opposition on Friday, saying they keep an eye on their eastern cousins and enjoy what they see coming out of the Nation's capital on a nightly basis.
For their part the Sens are not taking an inconsistent Canucks team lightly, realizing that despite the on again, off again nature of the Vancouver offence, rising to an occasion is something that the Canucks are capable of.
Marc Crawford is looking forward to the match up as well, suggesting its a good test for his team to recapture some of their expected form this year. Crawford also makes a solid observation about the success of the Sens so far and he places a good portion of the credit with his counterpart Bryan Murray. As Crawford correctly points out, it's been a complete change of style in Ottawa this year, as Murray brings a much more offensive minded approach to the game than his predecessor Jacques Martin. Aided by a goaltender in Domenik Hasek who has the confidence of his teammates, the Sens are no longer afraid to take off up the ice and take advantage of their many chances.
It's Crawford's hope that his team can reduce those chances tonight, while at the same time capitalizing on their own in the Ottawa end of the rink. Regardless it should be a most entertaining night for the GM Place faithful and hockey fans British Columbian and Eastern Canadian (except you Torontonian area folks, nah, nah, nah, nah!)
Puck drops at 7 pm in Vancouver, 10 pm in Ottawa. It's late night hockey for the Easterners and expect the eyes to be droopy on Saturday morning, this one could be a barn burner from start to finish, making sleep hard to come by in Ottawa by 1 am!