The Ottawa Senators have a chance to move to within three points of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot when they host the Buffalo Sabres tonight. With the Leafs playing on back-to-back nights and on the road in St. Louis, I would put my money (literally) on Ottawa ending the night
two points behind Buffalo three points behind Toronto. The Senators had a couple of big news items today with Jean-Gabriel Pageau (!) and Cody Ceci (!!!) being recalled to play.
We know that Ceci will play with Chris Phillips while Joe Corvo will play on the left side. The logical conclusion is that
everyone's my dream pairing of Patrick Wiercioch and Erik Karlsson will finally likely materialise. Craig Anderson will return in goal. Here are the lines from Shawn McKenzie.
MacArthur - Spezza - Zibanejad
Conacher - Turris - Ryan
Greening - Pageau - Neil
Michalek - Smith - Condra
Wiercioch - Karlsson (!!!!!!)
Phillips - Ceci
Corvo - Gryba
Here are some notes for tonight:
- Craig Anderson has had a rough time for the most part this season but a game against a Sabres team that scores one goal or less in half the games should be a good chance for him.
- While the Senators are creeping closer to the playoffs in points, it is worth remembering that there are likely six teams competing for one spot or possibly seven teams for two spots. Ottawa might have as good a chance as any other specific team, but the odds are still stacked against them. One estimate puts it at 20.5% for what it is worth.
- I am very excited to see this Wiercioch - Karlsson pairing. I think they will do very well. If it is something that works out, then a future Methot - Gryba pairing could be thrown to the wolves in tough situations allowing a pretty decent top four. That pairing might have trouble moving the puck out of the zone though.
- Remember Pageau!? He's back...in over a point per game form!
- Big shout out to my good friend The Backhander who gets to fulfil a childhood dream by seeing Eric Gryba in person. Lookin' good Gryba!
- Ottawa has won the all important #fancystats battle for eight consecutive games. Luck has not been on their side though, going only 3-3-2 in that span. I think it will be nine straight games and 4-3-2 after tonight.
Here are some stats leaders for the two teams tonight.
|Goals||Bobby Ryan||14||Cody Hodgson||8|
|Assists||Erik Karlsson||21||Cody Hodgson||10|
|Points||Erik Karlsson||29||Cody Hodgson||18|
|Shots||Kyle Turris||98||Cody Hodgson||75|
|Average Ice time||Erik Karlsson||27:47||Christian Ehrhoff||24:08|
|Corsi Close %||50.3%||13th||40.5%||30th|
|Fenwick Close %||49.0%||20th||39.8%||30th|