The Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres play the back half of their home and home series tonight at the Canadian Tire Centre.
For the last two weeks I have used this paragraph in the game day post to talk about the importance of the night’s game often using the term “must-win”. Well tonight, I mean it. If the Senators want to play their way back into contention in the Eastern Conference, they absolutely have to beat the Sabres on home ice. One point will not do, either. Ottawa has to win this damn hockey game.
As deep a hole as the Senators have dug themselves over the first 30 games of the season, the last couple playoff spots are actually still within reach. The Toronto Maple Leafs currently hold the 8th and final spot and have an incredibly tough schedule ahead of them this month. Just five points separate the two teams heading into tonight’s action. While the Senators host the league’s worst, the Leafs have to play the Blues in St. Louis. It’s a great opportunity for the Senators to chip away at that five point deficit.
The Senators will be down a couple guys on the blueline tonight. Jared Cowen will not be available as he serves the first of his two game suspension. Cowen took a lot of heat earlier in the season but has actually been pretty good since being made a healthy scratch earlier this month. Marc Methot missed the morning skate with the flu and will not play. Down two defenceman, the Senators have recalled Cody Ceci from Binghamton of the American Hockey League. The first round pick will make his NHL debut tonight. Ceci has 17 points in 24 games at the AHL level and has really impressed the organization lately. Great opportunity for him to see how he matches up against NHL competition.
Here is how the forwards are expected to line up. Defence pairings are a bit of a mystery right now but it sounds like Ceci will play with Phillips to start.
Craig Anderson gets the start in the Ottawa goal.