Playoffs is definitely overstating it for the 25th overall Ottawa Senators, who might not be overly upset with a regulation loss tonight. They've gone 3-6-1 over their past 10 games, and a top 5 pick is certainly starting to sound pretty good to the Senators, whose playoff hopes are all but gone. A regulation win for Buffalo would still leave them 2 points behind the depressing Oilers for last place in the league, or first place in the McDavid Sweepstakes.
Bobby Ryan is in the line up right now, despite some uncertainty after leaving this mornings practice early. He may have tweaked something, but it doesn't seem serious and he will hopefully be playing at close to 100%. Ryan has been one of the Senators most effective players of late, since reigniting Zibanejads offence in December when Mika had a 4-point night, then shortly after Ryan grabbing a hat rick, and most recently putting together three straight two-point nights, although going scoreless in three games since.
Coach Cameron is keeping together the Macarthur-Zibanejad-Ryan line, possibly hoping that they can find some offence after the team scored only three goals in the past 3 games. Macarthur has been a bit of a disappointment after a strong start to the season. He has only 2 assists in his last 9 games, and is on pace for about 43 points right now. Macs been playing a large role for the Senators since his big 24 goal, 55 point season last year. He's averaged over 17 minutes a night, and his lack of production has been a big reason for the Senators offensive struggles.
It's a bit confusing why Cameron hasn't reunited the Hoffman-Zibanejad-Ryan line that was so dominant weeks ago. Hoffman is a rookie and Zibanejad is only 21, so it is possible Cameron doesn't want to put too much pressure to produce on their shoulders, but it seems the Senators are only playing well when our youngest guys are on the ice.
Pageau is sitting this one now that Michalek is feeling better from the illness that kept him out of last game against Columbus. This is an example of why it is so confusing that the Senators signed David Legwand at 3 million a season last summer but can't sign Methot now at 5 million. Legwand is playing fourth line centre despite Pageau playing very well since being called up, and Zack Smith will have to be put on waivers when he returns from injury if the Sens want to keep Pageau in the NHL. Pageau has deserved it, but it is a shame the Sens have so many centres and not a bit more cap space to keep Methot, who has been great since returning from injury.
The third line of Hoffman-Lazar-Chiasson should be the most exciting tonight, as Lazar and Hoffman have been two of the Senators best forwards for the past few weeks since Lazar returned from the World Juniors. Turris and Zibanejad on the other hand have been little more than invisible most of the season, clearly dealing with some growing pains and developing their games. I would love to see Hoffman, Lazar and Stone get more time, as the young forwards have been the Sens best this season besides Bobby Ryan who is on pace for an improved but unimpressive 64 points.
Turris will be playing with Michalek and Stone on the teams 'first' line, although the MacArthur-Zibanejad-Ryan line has been the first line for the past few weeks. Whatever line Ryan seems to be on tends to end up as the teams first line, as he's played well with whoever he's been with whether it was Turris and Mac last year or Zibanejad and Hoffman earlier this year. Michalek seemed to find his scoring groove recently, scoring 7 points in 8 games before going pointless in his last two. Stone has been showing some real offensive consistency, on pace for 50 points and scoring 18 points in his last 24 games. Stone is only 22 years old and looks like he's secured his place on the right side of Ottawas top six for the foreseeable future.
Game starts in one hour, should have wrote this earlier, but I'll try to find time to write a post-game review today or tomorrow! Thanks for reading to any Sens fans out there, i know this was a chunky article but I'll get better as I keep at this. Hopefully the Sens can find a few goals tonight, it has been brutal only getting a goal in each of the past three games, boring but close games!