Tonight, the Ottawa Senators will begin a stretch where they play nine out of their next 12 games at home. Of the nine home games, four are against teams well ahead of them (Vancouver, Boston, Pittsburgh and Florida) and four against teams just ahead or just below them (Tampa Bay, Washington, Buffalo and Montreal). The remaining home game is a very winnable one against Calgary. The three road games are in New Jersey, Buffalo and Carolina, with two of the three below them and Buffalo just ahead of them.
This is going to be a very important stretch for Ottawa. I expect them to take 4 points from the three road games, pick up 7 points in the home games against Tampa Bay, Washington, Buffalo and Montreal and Calgary. In the four home games against Vancouver, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Florida, I would expect the Senators to pick up four points.
This would result in 15 points from the twelve games and leave the Senators with 42 points from 38 games, a 91 point pace. At the end of the run, Ottawa will likely be either a point or two ahead of the final playoff spot, or a point or two behind. In other words, probably the same as now. Of course, if the Senators can really start rolling in this stretch, they can open up a little bit of a gap between them and the ninth placed team.
- Game preview. (Ottawa Sun, Senators Extra)
- Five panellists predict a win tonight while three go with a loss. Peter is among the pessimistic ones and says 5-3 for Tampa Bay. (Senators Extra)
- The Senators will not make any changes tonight. Nikita Filatov is a healthy scratch once again, Filip Kuba is still out and Craig Anderson starts.
- Erik Karlsson speeding down the ice and Alexander Ovechkin chasing him seems to have been noticed by Paul MacLean, Jared Cowen as well as the media. It reminded Don Brennan of Bobby Orr while MacLean doesn't think anyone in the league is skating as well as Karlsson right now. Cowen on the other hand, is very happy with his ice time, and he will likely continue to play a lot while Filip Kuba is out. Lastly, with Tampa Bay and Washington coming up, MacLean used practise to try and break the trap. (Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun)
- Not everyone is happy about the upcoming run of home games. Cyril Leeder admits it will be tough to sell so many games in such a short period, especially around the Christmas period. He also mentioned that starting next season, the NHL will revert to the old system of picking home dates. Under that system, Ottawa would give the league 60 possible dates for home games and the league would pick 41 of them. This would allow Ottawa to have more games on their preferred Thursday and Saturday slots and less on Wednesday and Friday. (Senators Extra)
- Don Brennan's five reasons for why the Senators can make the playoffs are Paul MacLean's coaching, an improving penalty kill (along with still a good power play), the expected improvement in Craig Anderson, Daniel Alfredsson's leadership and Bryan Murray. The last one is the scary one. Brennan feels if the Senators are still hanging around a playoff spot at the trade deadline, Murray will do what it takes to make it happen. (Ottawa Sun)
- Erik Karlsson was happy his good friend Victor Hedman got a 5-year contract extension for $20 million. The way Karlsson is improving all areas of his game, he is probably going to be in the $6 million a year range. He definitely wants to stay here long term, saying he likes the organisation and the city. His future wife also likes the city. (Ottawa Sun)
- Nikita Filatov was as surprised as most of us to be scratched on Saturday. At least right now, he's fine with it and is working with Paul MacLean. He will probably get another chance at some point, as MacLean does feel Filatov is playing fine, just not producing. Filatov hasn't spoken to Murray about his future with the organisation yet. (Ottawa Citizen)
- Mika Zibanejad was named to Sweden's roster for the U20 World Championships and this article predicts him to be the biggest impact player at the tournament. (The Hockey Writers)
- Andre Petersson scored two goals in Binghamton's 4-3 win yesterday. He now has 13 points in 22 games this season. Stéphane Da Costa also picked up two assists and has four assists in his three games. (Press & Sun-Bulletin)
So will you bleeding second chance hearts finally admit that Karlsson and Rundblad need to go back to the minors for more seasoning to play Canada's game. They both cost us the game last night and not one of you can deny that. I think the only coach that should have been fired is Paul MacLean for playing these two.
He later adds that Karlsson's seasoning in the minors should be with the Ottawa 67s.