Erie Otters (10-2-1-0) at London Knights (8-3-1-0)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Budweiser Gardens – London, Ontario
On the air: WFNN-AM/1330, www.ottershockey.com (live stream)
Up next: vs. Peterborough (Saturday, 7 p.m.)
What to watch: The Otters have won eight straight games, their longest streak since the 2010-11 club finished the regular season with eight consecutive wins. They are two wins shy of equaling the franchise record set in 1997-98 and matched in 2001-02. … The Otters (21 points) lead the OHL’s Western Conference, four points ahead of London. …The Otters lost four of six meetings with the Knights a season ago, including all three in London. The Otters have a 4-24-2 record in their past 30 trips to London in the past decade. … Linemates Connor Brown and Dane Fox had nine-game and seven-game point streaks snapped in a 5-2 home win against Plymouth on Wednesday. … Brown still leads the league with 29 points, and is tied for the lead with linemate Connor McDavid in assists with 18. Fox is in a four-way tie for first with 13 goals. … The trio leads an offense that ranks third in the league with 59 goals. … McDavid has points in eight straight games. … D Adam Pelech is tied for third among defensemen with 11 points. … RW Hayden Hodgson missed practice Thursday because he was ill. His status for tonight’s game is unknown. … The Otters went 0-for-4 on the power play against Plymouth, the first time they haven’t scored with the man advantage in a game this season. … The Otters entered Thursday sixth overall with 36 goals against and second on the penalty kill (88.5 percent). … The Otters (30.5) and Knights 29.6 are first and second on the power play. … C Bo Horvat and C Chris Tierney lead the Knights with 13 points apiece. … London has lost D Olli Maatta to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fellow D and first-round pick Nikita Zadorov remains with the Buffalo Sabres. But the Knights are second overall with 31 goals against, including a 3-0 home win against Kitchener on Thursday.
Victor’s take: The first 10 minutes will be the key to success for the Otters. Budweiser Gardens has been a house of horrors for them in the past. They need to handle what should be a spirited Knights club in front of what should be a sellout, or at least close to one. If the Otters survive that, they will build confidence that will carry later into the game. If they don’t, the Knights will build momentum, and most likely, a comfortable lead. And let’s not forget the special teams battle. Both teams rank among the league’s top 5 on the power play and penalty kill.
Tale of the tape
Stat comparison between the Otters and Knights:
Category Otters Knights
Goals for 59 (4.5/game) 49 (4.0/game)
Goals against 36 (2.7) 31 (2.5)
Power-play pct. 30.5 29.6
Penalty-kill pct. 88.5 83.9
Penalty minutes 208 203
Home/road 4-2-1-0 (road) 6-1-0-0 (home)