LONDON KNIGHTS (42-16-1-2) VS. ERIE OTTERS (30-26-2-1)
WHEN: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.
THE MATCHUP: This could end up a first-round playoff series. The teams met here two weeks ago and London recorded a 4-3 shootout victory, the Knights 17th straight home win over Erie. On his first shift, Zac Rinaldo hammered Andrew Yogan with a check from behind. Neither has played since. Rinaldo will serve the seventh game of an eight-game suspension tonight and Yogan has been recovering from a concussion and facial lacerations.
WHO TO WATCH: London -- D/F Matt Clarke. Will he play at the back or up front? The 20-year-old Londoner was moved up to his natural position midway through the game in Guelph on Wednesday and paved the way for Phil Varone's late winner. With six other healthy defenders, the Knights have the luxury of making Clarke a swingman. Erie -- Luke Gazdic. The six-foot-three, 228-pounder from Toronto has been a force. Two weeks ago, he fought Leigh Salters seven seconds into the game, then had enough in the tank to score twice.
HOUSE OF PINK: The Knights ask fans to dress in pink to support breast cancer awareness. The team will wear commemorative pink jerseys that will go live for auction on www.londonknights.com immediately after the game. Bidding will stop on March 8 at 7 p.m. Proceeds will be sent to A Rose in My Book -- an organization supporting the London Regional Cancer Program -- and Champions for Grace (Massel-Cruickshank Fund), which provides short-term assistance for women and men battling breast cancer.
TAVARES APPEARANCE: Tomorrow, No. 61 will swing by the London Source for Sports store (406 Wharncliffe Road South) to promote an upcoming London stop for the SDC Canadian Hockey Skills Challenge. There's an autograph session from 3-4 p.m and Tavares, in a joint CCM-Source promotion, will hand out 24 sticks to local minor hockey players and passes for the skills event.
DANDY DEFENDER: Knights D John Carlson needs four more points to produce the best offensive season by a London rearguard in 15 years. The 19-year-old Washington Capitals first-rounder has 14 goals and 66 points. During the 2004-05 Memorial Cup season, Danny Syvret posted 69 points -- the best totals for a Knights defender since Nick Stajduhar had 34 goals and 86 points in 1993-94.
CANN THEY HELP HIM?: London hasn't been lighting up the scoreboard much the last month and that brings even more heat on their guy between the pipes. Trevor Cann has made eight straight starts and won five following a four-game personal losing skid. London has scored more than three goals once in their last 13 contests but the overall team defence has been better lately.
ALUMNI UPDATE: Speaking of the blue-line, two former Knights -- Adam Nemeth and Ryan Martinelli -- have been playing as a unit with the Western men's team, which opened its best-of-three Ontario University West Conference semifinal last night at York. "I think we complement each other well because he's a bit more offensive and I'm more of a stay-at-home D," Nemeth said.
AFTER THE BUZZER: London will play the Kingston Frontenacs on Sunday in a Sportsnet-televised tilt at 3 p.m. at the JLC.