Who To Cheer For: March 23

Your handy guide to tonight's games

Yesterday was a big game for the Senators, with the Bruins losing to the Lightning 5-3. Sports Club Stats bumped the Senators up 5.6% to 65.5%, while Boston dropped to 47.9%. Ottawa is still behind them by a point, but now with two games in hand. @IneffectiveMath put the Bruins dropping 10% all the way to 42% chance of making the playoffs, whereas Ottawa jumped 6% to 58%. @IneffectiveMath (Micah Blake McCurdy) pointed out that in early February, the Sens were at a 4% chance of making the playoffs. What the team has done in the last seven weeks is incredible.

Now the big news for the Senators is that both Matt Puempel and Milan Michalek are doubtful for Monday's game. With Clarke MacArthur and Chris Neil still out, this opens up some holes in the lineup. It's very possible that Zack Smith takes a spot, since he's finished his three-game conditioning stint. On top of that, Colin Greening is still riding with the team scratched so those two spots could be filled. Of course, Shane Prince could be re-called to fill a spot, especially if both Puempel and Michalek are out longer than one game. Prince looked good in his two-game audition with the team. Many wished he'd been kept up instead of Puempel. The other likely option is that Buddy Robinson gets called up, since Bryan Murray had mentioned him by name as a potential call-up. Before the Sens went on their run, Robinson was likely to get a shot in the big leagues, but the success led to less lineup tinkering. This may be the perfect opening for the team to get a look at Robinson. Some would also like to see Cole Schneider get a shot too, or even Derek Grant in a fourth-line role.

Tonight's game

The Sens take on the San Jose Sharks tonight, continuing the recent theme of taking on teams who are massive tire-fires. A win would be huge, because the Sens would leapfrog the Bruins with a game still in hand. It would bump their playoff odds up to 72.3% (Sports Club Stats). The good news is that a loss would only drop the team to 52.2%, because there'd still be a game in hand.

There are no other games of consequence tonight, as the only other Eastern Conference teams playing are the Maple Leafs, Devils, Hurricanes, and Sabres. So feel free to watch the Sens game without checking the other scores.

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