The Ottawa Senators are eight points ahead of the final playoff spot, and although they have played two extra games, they are almost certainly going to make it. So let's take a look at how they match-up against the three most likely potential first-round opponents.
Boston Bruins (50.8% chance)
Goaltending: Tim Thomas. That's all. Advantage Bruins.
Scoring: While the Senators score a lot, the Bruins score more and they have more depth. Advantage Bruins.
Defence: The Senators allow the most shots in the league, and while they have arguably the best defenceman in the NHL, the rest of the group is weak. Advantage Bruins.
Game changers: Here is one area I think the Senators have the edge. In Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson, Ottawa has a couple of players that can take over a game. Advantage Senators.
Overall: The Bruins are the defending champions and have owned the Senators this season. Advantage Bruins.
Florida Panthers (17.3% chance)
Goaltending: Even if Craig Anderson comes back, Jose Theodore is having the better season with a 2.45 goals against average and .918 save percentage. With the injury concerns, Theodore is a better bet. Advantage Panthers.
Scoring: Ottawa is sixth in goals per game, Florida is seventh last. The Panthers top scorer has 49 points. Advantage Senators.
Defence: The Panthers allow a lot of shots as well, and while they don't possess a Karlsson, Brian Campbell is second in points by defenceman and Jason Garrison is tied for second in goals. Even.
Game changers: Again Spezza and Karlsson give the Senators the edge. Advantage Senators.
Overall: The Senators have beaten the Panthers in three of the four meetings and Florida has one of the worst goal differences in the NHL but could make the playoffs due to a terrible division. Ottawa would likely be the favourites in such a match-up. Advantage Senators.
New York Rangers (10.3% chance)
Goaltending: Whether it is Anderson, or Robin Lehner goes head-to-head against the man his father trained, the Rangers have a huge edge here. Advantage Rangers.
Scoring: The Senators score more and the Rangers have the second worst power play and seventh least shots per game in the NHL. Advantage Senators.
Defence: The Rangers have one of the best defences in the NHL and the Senators have one of the worst. Advantage Rangers.
Game changers: Spezza and Karlsson again. The Rangers have Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, but they haven't had quite the same seasons. Advantage Senators.
Overall: The Rangers may be the best team in the NHL in points, but I feel Ottawa would have a shot. The presence of Henrik Lundqvist makes the Rangers the favourites, but the Senators can play with them. Advantage Rangers.
More after the jump.
Here are today's links:
- Recap of last night's win. Note: Darren's recap was better than Garrioch's recap. (Silver Seven, Ottawa Sun, Senators Extra)
- Some post-game reaction video from Sens TV. (Ottawa Senators)
- Sylvain St-Laurent writes about Paul MacLean's displeasure with Zack Smith. This article is in French. (Le Droit)
- The Sun guys talk about Robin Lehner's demotion to the AHL. Can a battle for the backup goaltender job in training camp ever be "epic"? (Ottawa Sun)
- In a great tennis match, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza defeated Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar 7-6 6-3. (Ottawa Sun)
- Do you want to know more about Kyle Turris? Here is your chance. (Ottawa Senators)
- Ben Bishop knows it will be difficult to send him down to the minors next year because he has a one-way contract and he would have to clear waivers. But he isn't taking the backup job for granted. (Senators Extra)
- Robin Lehner returned to action in the AHL with a 22-save shutout as the Binghamton Senators won 2-0 in Toronto against the Marlies. (AHL)