Game 79 preview: Ottawa Senators @ New York Islanders

USA TODAY Sports

A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders on 8 April 2014.

The Ottawa Senators are facing elimination tonight as they visit the New York Islanders. Failure to obtain two points will officially eliminate the Senators from postseason contention. The Senators could also be eliminated even if they win, in the case that both Detroit and Lumbus pick up a point. To make the playoffs, Ottawa needs to win all four of its games and have Lumbus lose all four of its games in regulation. Alternatively, Ottawa would need to win all four games before a shootout, have the Red Wings lose all four in regulation and make up a goal difference of 24 on Detroit. Both of these scenarios also require the Capitals and Devils to lose a few games.

There you have it. Ottawa just needs a little bit of divine help for six days. Okay a lot of divine help. Anyway, there are four games left and the Senators have to play it because the NHL is making them. Here are the likely lines.

Michalek - Spezza - Hemsky
MacArthur - Turris - Stone
Neil - Smith - Zibanejad
Hoffman - Pageau - Condra

Methot - Karlsson
Wiercioch - Gryba
Phillips - Ceci

Anderson (starter)
Lehner

Some notes for tonight:

  • Craig Anderson was absolutely awful against the Canadiens stopping 16 shots while allowing seven goals. At one point the number of saves wasn't much higher than the number of goals allowed. He's going to be better tonight by default.
  • For all of Ottawa's defensive problems, they would likely be very close to a playoff spot with even average goaltending. League average goaltending going into last night was a 91.35% save percentage and 91.72% for goalies with at least 40 games. The Senators would give up 13 less goals with league average goaltending and 23 less goals with average starting goaltending. That could be worth any where between 5-10 more points.
  • What if the defence was league average? A quick look shows that the median shots allowed per game is 29.8 while the Senators have allowed 34.7. This would be a total 382 less shots allowed which is approximately 35 less goals with the Senators current goaltending, which would have the Senators comfortably in a playoff spot.
  • Clearly both goaltending and defence have been an issue, but the shots allowed has been a bigger factor. It remains to be seen if the Senators can improve their defence while continuing to keep their shots for total as high as it is.
  • Some actual stuff on tonight's game: the Islanders put the symbolic nail in the Senators coffin last week. They could end it for good tonight.
  • Paul MacLean claimed that the Senators allowed 11 scoring chances a game last season and allow 18 per game this season. Here is an excellent piece from Tyler Dellow on why that is likely not true as well as a few possible explanations for why MacLean would claim as much.
  • Jared Cowen is done for the season and it is not exactly clear what the injury is. Seems odd that no one has bothered to ask.
  • Is this the last week that we see Jason Spezza in a Senators uniform?
  • Mika Zibanejad has looked very good with three goals in the last four games. If Zibanejad can score two even strength goals in the next four games, he will be the first forward drafted by Ottawa to score 15 even strength goals since Jason Spezza.
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