Who To Cheer For: March 24

A look at tonight's games from the perspective of Sens fans

Last night, the Senators won. In case you didn't know. It's huge, because it moved them ahead of the Bruins for sole possession of eighth place in the East. @IneffectiveMath puts the Sens' playoff chances at 67%, and Sports Club Stats puts them at 73.3%. Either way, this is really good.

You may have caught in yesterday's Ups and Downs a little tidbit about Bobby Ryan: he's the first Senator to get two GWGs against the Bruins in the same season since Alexandre Daigle. This fact led to this conversation on Twitter:

Which got me looking at the 2005 draft class, where Ryan was picked second after some guy named Sidney Crosby. This is known as the infamous draft in which the Sens lucked into a top-ten pick, and then took Brian Lee ninth overall, ahead of names like Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal. Here's a look at the top nine from that year's draft:

# Team Player Career GP Goals/Wins Assists/Sv % Points/GAA
1 Penguins Sidney Crosby 617 298 545 843
2 Ducks Bobby Ryan 515 188 199 387
3 Hurricanes Jack Johnson 559 49 173 222
4 Wild Benoit Pouliot 419 92 94 186
5 Canadiens Carey Price 428 219 .920 2.43
6 Blue Jackets Gilbert Brule 299 43 52 95
7 Blackhawks Jack Skille 239 30 31 61
8 Sharks Devin Setoguchi 471 127 122 249
9 Senators Brian Lee 209 5 31 36

(I only chose the top nine, because the tenth-overall pick, Canucks prospect Luc Bourdon, tragically passed away in May 2008.)

Looking at this list, I found it pretty surprising. The best pick was clearly Crosby, and at this point it appears the second-best was Price. The third is hands-down Bobby Ryan, but after that it looks like Johnson was probably the next-best pick. The rest have pretty well been busts. They've all passed the threshold of 100 NHL games played, but they haven't become the impact players they were projected to be. I don't know what happened - were scouts so enamoured with Crosby they forgot to scout anyone else? Ten years from now, I guess we'll see how the non-McDavid, non-Eichel picks of this upcoming draft turn out.

Tonight's games

It's a weird night for the Sens, since both the Capitals and Bruins are idle. Still, there are some games of note.

Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning: Easily the game that matters most to the Sens. On the one hand, there is a small possibility that the Cats catch the Sens. On the other hand, it's important they have as much incentive as possible to beat the Bruins two more times down the stretch. I think lowering the Lightning's chances of topping the division is still be the best outcome for this game.

Arizona Coyotes at Detroit Red Wings: There is still a small possibility the Sens catch the Wings. For that reason, let's hope the 'Yotes come out on top in this one.

Los Angeles Kings at New York Rangers: Basically every team ahead of Ottawa in the East that's not Montreal we want to lose. Go Kings Go!

St. Louis Blues at Pittsburgh Penguins: This game has the same explanation as the one above, except that Pittsburgh is also gross to cheer for.

Montreal Canadiens at Nashville Predators: Every point the Habs get is crucial in moving them toward a probable first-round meeting with the Sens. As much as I dislike them, I love spitefully cheering for them to win.

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