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)
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.
|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|
|Shots Against||32.7||26th||30.2||21st |