The toughest day the Senators surely will have to face this season is over.
Starting with an emotional ceremony in Ottawa for the Richardson family and then on into Carolina where they were trounced to perfection by the Hurricanes, Wednesday was a long one.
Now the Senators are sitting in Missouri, waiting for their chance to get back on the ice to do what they do best - play hockey. There's no insensitivity in getting back down to business. Often that's the best remedy anyways.
So the scene is set for a game that, at one glance, can mean so much to both teams, but at another angle, may mean very little to a group of shaken up players in that Senators locker room.
But you can bet this Ottawa team wants a win more badly than at anytime so far this season. They've lost 3 of their last 4 and have obviously lost momentum for a variety of reasons.
On the ice, the Fisher-Alfredsson-Michalek line is struggling big time even though Alfie scored his 8th of the year in the Hurricane wipeout. Mike Fisher is hurt and doesn't seem able to hit. Milan Michalek still isn't right somehow. The goaltending has come back to earth a little, with both goalies getting shelled in recent games. The defense has had their shares of troubles. In short, they've been a mess at times, but they've also come on strong, like they did in the second period against the Canes. If the Senators had played the whole game that way, it would have been 2 points in the bank, but they didn't have the legs in the end.
So who will be more desperate? The Blues have lost 5 straight games and have a couple of really good players in T.J. Oshie and David Perron on the injured list. Jaroslav Halak has struggled since opening the season looking like he was going to haunt Habs GM Pierre Gauthier until his dying days.
The safe bet is that the home team will come out on top in a game like this, and that's why I picked St. Louis in today's Citizen Prediction Panel. Yet there's that intangible the Senators have.
The Blues may want to win this game. The Senators may feel like have to, for whatever reason you want to name. But are their heads in the right place? Are their legs back under them? Will Alexei Kovalev get his 1000th career point against a team he has had very little success against over the years (13 points in 21 games, tied for his lowest total against any team, barring the expansion clubs)?
We'll all see for ourselves tonight.
Congratulations to Kevin for winning the Subway Savings pack we gave away in our last post. He's got four tickets to the upcoming Kings game on Monday. Thanks to everyone who sent in their answer to the trivia question. Shawn McEachern was the guy we were looking for.
Could we see a re-match here in tonight's game? Not sure if he is going to be in the lineup, but Cam Janssen is incredibly tough and durable for such a smallish fighter and he gives Matt Carkner all he can handle in this somewhat epic scrap from last season. But Carkner also has to weigh the fact he'd be off the ice for 5 minutes. Choices, choices.