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Game 68 preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ Ottawa Senators

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A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers on 15 March 2015.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

After beating the Buffalo Sabres on 6 March, the Ottawa Senators had closed to within three points of the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot. Since then, Ottawa has continued to accumulate points going 3-1-0 over the next four games. So the Senators must be even closer than three points now right? Unfortunately, the Bruins have gone 5-0-0 in that span and have increased the gap to seven points.

On the bright side, the Washington Capitals have been drawn into the race for the wild card spots having gone 3-6-0 over their past nine games and are level on 82 points with Boston. The Bruins and Capitals play each other tonight, so Ottawa is guaranteed to at least move one point closer to a playoff spot with a win tonight.

Ottawa will go with the same lineup as Friday. Here are the lines and pairings.

Hoffman - Zibanejad - Ryan
Michalek - Turris - Stone
Lazar - Pageau - Condra
Puempel - Legwand - Chiasson

Methot - Karlsson
Wiercioch - Ceci
Cowen - Borowiecki

Hammond (starter)
Anderson

Some notes for tonight:

  • With a gap of at least two points on every other defenceman and more games left than any of the other contenders, Erik Karlsson looks set to win the defensive scoring race for the third consecutive season that he has been healthy.
  • Marc Methot is a good player but far too much credit is given to him for Karlsson's play as Karlsson has been pretty great all season. The biggest difference Methot is making is that he is not Chris Phillips or Jared Cowen, not that he is some how making Karlsson better.
  • Don't look now, but every nerd boy's favourite, Patrick Wiercioch has an assist in three straight games.
  • Jared Cowen was rather awful on Friday but I would rather have awful players on the third pairing than on the first or second. Cowen, Mark Borowiecki and Eric Gryba are all interchangeably meh. Not that I would ever call any of them a scrub. Never. That would be just rude.
  • Bobby Ryan needs 11 points in the final 15 games to get his first 60 points season since 2010-2011.
  • Mika Zibanejad has already established career highs in goals, assists and points.
  • Curtis Lazar doesn't have a point since scoring against Florida on 21 February. Before that, his last point was a goal on 3 February and before that a goal on 15 December. And before that his last point was an assist on 13 November. No assists and three points in the four months for the resident smiler.
  • David Legwand are Milan Michalek are first and second on the team in power play goals with six and five respectively. Legwand has only two even strength goals.
  • Legwand amazingly has 70 shots on goal in 65 games this season.
  • Ottawa is 9th in scoring, 14th in goals allowed, and 13th in goals difference in the NHL. So why are they so far out of a playoff spot? They have the 24th best record in one-goal games going 15-12-11 but the sixth best record in games decided by three or more goals going 11-6. Their recent run has also coincided with going 5-0-2 in their last seven one-goal games.

Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from www.puckon.net.

Category Ottawa Philadelphia
Player # Player #
Goals Mike Hoffman 24 Wayne Simmonds 27
Assists Erik Karlsson 36 Jakub Voracek 48
Points Erik Karlsson 54 Jakub Voracek 68
Shots Erik Karlsson 242 Claude Giroux 242
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 26:56 Mark Streit 22:16

Category Ottawa Philadelphia
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.81 9th 3.60 21st
Goals Against 2.58 14th 2.74 22nd
Score adjusted Corsi % 50.6% 18th 49.6% 20th
Score adjusted Fenwick % 48.9% 21st 49.3% 20th
Shots For 30.7 10th 29.8 16th
Shots Against 32.5 26th 29.9 18th