There are only 15 games left to go in the season and the Ottawa Senators have a cushion of 9 points and four teams to hang on to a playoff spot. One of those teams are tonight's opponents: the eighth seeded New York Rangers. Since meeting each other in the playoffs last season, the Senators have won both meetings by 3-2 scores this season.
There are two changes tonight, Andre Benoit replaces Mike Lundin and Jim O'Brien replaces Peter Regin. Here are the lines from Sylvain St-Laurent:
Hoffman - Turris - Alfredsson
Latendresse - Zibanejad - Silfverberg
Greening - O'Brien - Neil
Kassian - Smith - Condra
Methot - Gryba
Phillips - Benoit
Some talking points for tonight:
- After a solid performance against New Jersey, Ben Bishop will make consecutive starts for the first time since 23 February and 25 February. Since then he was good against the Flyers, bad against the Leafs, decent against the Sabres, bad against the Islanders and good against the Devils. Can he put together another strong performance tonight?
- The line of Dziurzynski-Smith-Neil was destroyed against New Jersey. Dziurzynski has been demoted to the AHL, Smith to the fourth line and Neil with new linemates. Paul MacLean didn't like that line like the rest of us.
- Mike Hoffman will play his first NHL game of the season and second of his career. Playing with Alfredsson and Turris he is going to get a big chance. Will he get his first point tonight?
- With a regulation win tonight, Ottawa will move nine points ahead of eighth place and likely finish no lower than seventh, thus avoiding a first round match-up with Pittsburgh. At this point, their most likely first round opponents are Boston, Winnipeg or Montreal. Sports Club Stats has Ottawa with an 83% chance of meeting one of those three clubs.
- Ottawa has had a combined three power plays in the last three games.
- Other relevant games to Ottawa tonight. Islanders @ Flyers (cheer for Flyers), Winnipeg @ Pittsburgh (hold your nose and cheer for the Pens), Carolina @ Maple Leafs (probably Hurricanes).