Dallas Stars at Ottawa Senators on Nov. 24, 2010

Just two days after defeating the Pacific Division-leading L.A. Kings, the Ottawa Senators welcome the Pacific Division basement-dwelling Dallas Stars.

Dallas Stars at Ottawa Senators on Nov. 24, 2010

THE STORY: Just two days after defeating the Pacific Division-leading L.A. Kings, the Ottawa Senators welcome the Pacific Division basement-dwelling Dallas Stars. Don’t been fooled by their position, however. If the Stars played in the Eastern Conference instead of the ultra-competitive West, they’d be holding a playoff position with games in hand over almost all of the teams behind them.

THE SUBPLOTS: So, I guess Pascal Leclaire is the Senators’ No. 1 goaltender again. With Brian Elliott’s recent struggles and coach Cory Clouston’s fondness towards sticking with what works, expect Leclaire to be back between the pipes Wednesday night. Although he took a puck in the knee and spent some time lying on the ice during practice Tuesday, he should be ready to play.

THE WILDCARD: David Hale, Senators. Okay, it’s not often that a sixth defenceman — and one with little offensive upside to boot — is seen as a game-changer, but the Senators are an impressive 8-3 when he’s in the lineup. Meanwhile, two more expensive, younger and dynamic options (Erik Karlsson and Brian Lee) will likely be watching another contest from the press box. There’s something to be said for a guy who doesn’t make many mistakes and plays a very simple game.

THE OPPONENT: The Stars will be looking to avoid losing two straight games against Ontario opponents — they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night. Things aren’t going much better off the ice. The Stars, once one of the most respected franchises in the league and a beacon of hope in Gary Bettman’s dream that hockey can work in the South, can’t re-sign star scorer Brad Richards because the group of lenders that owns the team has yet to sign off. Yikes.

THE QUOTE: “As long as the team wins, I’m happy. Whenever the chance comes to come back, you’ve got to be ready to take it. I’m 20 years old. I trust that the guys above me know what they’re doing. They’ve been right before, so they’re probably not wrong this time.” — Erik Karlsson, trying to stay diplomatic the day after his first benching of the season.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — RW Chris Neil (upper body, probable). Stars — LW James Neil (leg laceration, probable). D Mark Fistric (undisclosed, questionable).

THE PREDICTION: The Ottawa Senators surprised more than a few people by knocking off the Los Angeles Kings Monday night after returning from a trying road trip. I felt before that game that the turnaround would come against the Stars, so I’m not changing my pick now. They’ll need some more good goaltending and a few lucky bounces, but I think the Senators will manage to win back-to-back contests. Senators 4, Stars 3.

What do you think? Leave a comment