If the Ottawa Senators have plans of qualifying for this year’s playoffs, they’ll need to start racking up some wins and it has to start tonight against the Florida Panthers.
It is a little early in the season to be using the term must-win but the hole the Senators have dug themselves is now sufficiently deep that there is good reason for this team to start playing like there’s no tomorrow. The Sens currently sit seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They need wins and they need them now.
With the way the team has played of late, there’sobviously no such thing as an easy game but a quick glance at the schedule shows a string of games that the Senators can certainly be competitive in. After tonight’s game against the Panthers, the Senators are in Tampa Bay, home against Toronto and Philadelphia then close it out with a home and home against the Buffalo Sabres. If the Senators can’t start racking up points over that stretch, they are in deep trouble.
The Panthers have just one win in their last five games and currently sit just five points out of last place in the Eastern Conference. Goals have been hard to come by for the Panthers as they have managed just 2.11 goals per game which has them ranked 27th in the NHL. Scottie Upshall leads the team in scoring with 14 points through 24 games.
Meanwhile the Senators will have a new look tonight against the Panthers. After another disappointing loss on home ice, Paul MacLean finally decided it was time to shuffle the deck a little bit. Mike Hoffman has been recalled and has found his way into the team’s top six forwards. The line of MacArthur-Turris-Ryan has been split up, in an attempt to get Jason Spezza going a little bit. Here is how the Senators are expected to line up for this one.
Craig Anderson gets the start for the Senators while the Panthers counter with Tim Thomas. Puck drop is scheduled for just after 7:30 PM.