Game 65 preview: Nashville Predators @ Ottawa Senators

The Senators need more from their first line centre. - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

A preview of the game between the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators on 10 March 2014.

There are 18 games left in the season and the Senators are four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final playoff spot. The Blue Jackets would also own the tiebreaker in the event of a tie. The Red Wings are outside a playoff spot but also four points ahead of Ottawa. In between the Red Wings, there are two other teams for Ottawa to pass. This is why the gap is a lot bigger than the four points would suggest. If Lumbus finishes 9-7-2, and no one between them and Ottawa goes on a tear, the Senators would need to finish 12-5-1 to make the playoffs.

There will be no changes to the lineup tonight. Patrick Wiercioch will be the only healthy scratch as the Senators continue to carry a 22-man roster likely due to picking up Ales Hemsky's salary. Here are the lines from Nicolas St-Pierre.

Greening - Smith - Neil
Hoffman - Turris - Ryan
Michalek - Spezza - Hemsky
Kassian - Zibanejad - Condra

Methot - Karlsson
Cowen - Gryba
Phillips - Ceci

Anderson (starter)
Lehner

Some notes for tonight:

  • Will Paul MacLean stop being insane tonight? Probably not.
  • As a follow up to the previous question, will Zack Smith continue to be used as a top six forward 5-on-5? Probably.
  • Erik Karlsson hasn't had a point in his last two games. He hasn't gone three straight without a point all season. The Senators have won only 7 out of 25 games this year when Karlsson doesn't get a point.
  • The Blue Jackets play the Stars tonight and the Red Wings tomorrow. So one of Detroit and Columbus will win but the ideal sequence is that Columbus loses tonight and wins tomorrow since the Sens will have a game in hand on them.
  • Ales Hemsky, Jason Spezza, Mike Hoffman and Kyle Turris were all lighting many mups in Winnipeg. Can they repeat this? Hemsky played only 11:37 of even strength hockey despite the four points.
  • The Senators are an above average 5-on-5 team by Fenwick close, have an average 5-on-5 close shooting percentage and save percentage. Yet they are near the bottom in overall goal difference. Reason? They take a ton of penalties (short-handed the second most) and have the third worst 4-on-5 save percentage in the league.
  • The Senators could be within two (!!!) points of a playoff after tonight and yet it would still seem so far away.
  • The Giggler has 17 points in his last 14 games and has had multiple points in six of them. If the club does intend to trade him, a hot finish is certainly great for his trade value.
  • Kyle Turris is now only one goal behind Bobby Ryan for the team lead.
  • Cody Ceci really has had a rough time since the Olympic break. One of the things he has going for himself over Patrick Wiercioch is that he shoots right.
  • #FreeWiercioch

Here are some stats leaders for the two teams tonight.

Category Ottawa Nashville
Player # Player #
Goals Bobby Ryan 22 Craig Smith 18
Assists Erik Karlsson 40 David Legwand 30
Points Erik Karlsson 57 Shea Weber 15
Shots Erik Karlsson 203 Patric Hornqvist 186
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 27:14 Shea Weber 26:51

Category Ottawa Nashville
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.80 13th 2.25 29th
Goals Against 3.17 28th 2.88 22nd
Corsi Close % 52.0% 8th 49.3% 18th
Fenwick Close % 50.8% 12th 50.7% 15th
Shots For 32.4 4th 29.2 21st
Shots Against 34.3 28th 28.8 10th
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