Ottawa Senators are back from trip to Sweden, ready to entertain Penguins
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OTTAWA — A visit from the Pittsburgh Penguins might be just what the Ottawa Senators need on Thursday night..
Coming off a successful two-game series against the Colorado Avalanche in Sweden, the Senators (8-3-5) are looking to avoid a post-travel hangover and a visit from the defending Stanley Cup champions might be the best remedy.
Ottawa won both games against the Avalanche, travelled home Sunday, and had two days off before returning to the ice Wednesday for practice in preparation for the 10-7-3 Penguins.
"Our team usually shows up in big challenges and we've played well against them," said Senators head coach Guy Boucher. "This is the Stanley Cup champion of the last two years, so they're the standard. So our players know they need to be at their very, very best and nobody knows the effect of coming back from the longest road trip you can imagine in hockey at this point and perform a few days later.
"There's the known factors and then the unknown factors that make you a little more nervous, which I like, because then you're on edge and you have a better chance to be at your best."
Forward Bobby Ryan is expected to return Thursday after missing over three weeks due to a broken finger. Defenceman Mark Borowiecki will be back in the lineup after dealing with a personal health issue.
It will also be the home debut for centre Matt Duchene, acquired from Colorado just prior to leaving for Sweden.
Duchene, who will have his parents and extended family on hand at Canadian Tire Centre, is expected to start the game with Ryan on his right and Ryan Dzingel on his left.
The Senators are hoping that line chemistry will develop quickly, giving the team a solid top six with Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard and Mark Stone.
"Right now it's trying to figure out what's our best mix," said Boucher. "If you can spread out your wealth you're a much better team."
Ryan had a strong start to the season with six assists in eight games. He's excited to line up with Duchene, who has a left-handed shot.
"I think the way that we play is pretty similar below the tops of the circles," said Ryan. "We both like to grind down low, spin off and make plays in little areas and we're both not shy to get at the net.
"I think he and I are going to have a lot of chemistry in the corners."
The Senators will use Chris Wideman — normally a defenceman — as a fourth-line winger. He played up front in the second game in Sweden and Boucher was impressed enough to continue the experiment.
"It worked so well that now I'd like to see if we extend the ice time as a forward what it would look like, and it just gives us more versatility," Boucher said.
Craig Anderson is tabbed to get the start in net.