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Game 57 Preview: Florida Panthers at the Ottawa Senators

The Sens look to keep the good times rolling in their tilt against the Florida Panthers

Zack Smith does...something?
Zack Smith does...something?
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers roll into town tonight for a tilt with the Sens. For many of us, the glow of a great win against the Habs on Wednesday probably hasn't quite worn off yet. Even in the midst of a down season like this, it's always fun to win a rivalry game. The Panthers aren't quite at the same level of animosity, but they bring a promising young squad to town. Led by the stellar play of super rookie Aaron Ekblad, and fellow youngsters Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, the Cats are poised to make a play-off run this year. It's not a fluke, either: the Panthers are a positive possession team that generate a lot of shots towards the opposing net.

After a string of good play, Ottawa's 3-1-1 in the last five, I can't believe I'm writing this but they're only nine points back of the last wild card spot with two games in hand. I won't get my hopes up yet, but there it is.

Ottawa's projected line-up:

Hoffman - Zibanejad - Ryan

Michalek - Turris - Stone

Lazar - Pageau  - Condra

Puempel - Legwand - Chiasson

Methot - Karlsson

Cowen - Ceci

Wiercioch - Borowiecki

Andrew Hammond (starter)

Chris Driedger

Some notes for tonight's game:

  • Matt Puempel gets his turn as the revolving door of Bingo call-ups continues. Shane Prince was great in his short sting with the team, but his game is perhaps more suited to the up-tempo speed of the NHL. Puempel's main asset is his shot; we'll see if he has a chance to get it off.
  • Erik Karlsson is getting closer to the scoring lead among NHL defensemen. With 20+ games to go, I'd give pretty good odds he ends up at the top of the heap by the time it's all said and done.
  • Roberto Luongo is expcted to draw in tonight against the Sens, despite some speculation Al Montoya would get the nod to preserve Luongo for Florida's stop in Pittsburgh tomorrow.
  • For your Panthers-themed preview, make sure to check out Litter Box Cats.

Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except for Corsi and Fenwick, which are from naturalstattrick.com.

Category Ottawa Florida
Player # Player #
Goals Mike Hoffman 20 Nick Bjugstad 21
Assists Erik Karlsson 31 Jussi Jokinen 25
Points Erik Karlsson 44 Nick Bjugstad 36
Shots Erik Karlsson 205 Nick Bjugstad 168
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 26:58 Brian Campbell 23:42

Category Ottawa Florida
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.79 14th 2.37 25th
Goals Against 2.77 22nd 2.61 13th
Corsi % 50.00% 19th 51.11% 16th
Fenwick % 47.80% 23rd 51.10% 15th
Shots For 30.3 13th 31.0 10th
Shots Against 32.7 26th 30.2 21st