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Who To Cheer For Tonight

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A helpful look at tonight's games, and the best outcomes for the Sens.

Making the playoffs is not something one can do lying down.
Making the playoffs is not something one can do lying down.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Hi everyone! This is a new feature that will run up until the Senators make the playoffs. It'll show up every day at noon EST, so it can coincide nicely with your lunch break, and will share an interesting tidbit or fact before looking at the evening's games that affect the Sens' playoff chances. If you weren't sure who to cheer for, this will definitely help you. (I am indebted to SportsClubStats.com for their excellent work in calculating playoff chance percentages.)

Last night the Sens beat the Hurricanes in OT, while the Bruins lost to the Sabres in a shootout. This puts Ottawa at a 37.6% chance of making the playoffs, up 11% from Tuesday morning. It also dropped Boston 8.1% to a 70.6% chance of making the playoffs. The only other teams really worth mentioning in the race right now in the East are the Capitals at 91.7% and the Panthers at 1.6%. Everyone else is either above 99% or below 1%. It likely won't be long until this is a three-horse race.

You probably heard this, but last night Andrew Hammond allowed only one goal, giving him two goals or fewer allowed in his first 12 NHL starts. This ties him with Frank Brimsek for the NHL record of two-goal-or-fewer games to start a career. Brimsek burst onto the scene in the 1938-39 season with the Boston Bruins, going on to a 33-9-1 rookie season. This ended up being the best wins-losses ratio of his career, though he still finished with a respectable 252-182-80 career record with the Bruins and one year with the Blackhawks.

Brimsek actually got his NHL start not too differently from Hammond, getting called up to start the NHL season because Tiny Thompson got injured in an exhibition game. Brimsek won his first two starts before being sent down because Thompson had healed. However, after five games, Thompson got traded to the Detroit Red Wings, and Brimsek was promoted to full-time starter. His streak of six shutouts in seven games after this would lead him to get the nickname Mr. Zero. That year, he led the Bs to the Stanley Cup, while also winning the Vezina and the Calder Trophies. Brimsek would win the Stanley Cup one more time in 1941. He was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. I think it's safe to say that if Hammond's career resembles Mr. Zero's at all, we'll all be very happy.

Tonight's games:

None of tonight's games affect the Sens at all! Feel free to cheer as your heart chooses!

Chicago Blackhawks (41-21-6) at New York Rangers (44-17-7)

The Rangers have 95 points and are in a four-way tie for first in the league, while the 'Hawks are looking to start the push to move past third in the Central Division. What a stacked division.

(Edit: Most Sens fans would rather face the Canadiens in the first round, so cheering for the Rangers to not top the East seems like a good idea.)

Columbus Blue Jackets (30-35-4) at Edmonton Oilers (19-39-12)

Neither team is a threat to make the playoffs, but the Oilers are only three points "behind" the Sabres for first place in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.

Los Angeles Kings (34-22-13) at Anaheim Ducks (44-20-7)

The Kings are all-out in their playoff push, tied with the Calgary Flames with 81 points but with tonight's game in hand. The Ducks are also in that four-way tie for first in the league, but their +13 goal differential is by far the worst of those four teams, and is even worse than the Sens' +15.