Final Score: 4 -1 Sens
The Sens ended their five game home-stand Saturday night with their third win, going 3-1-1. Over the last five games at home the Senators scored 22 goals, a 4.4 average well above their 2.8 on the season. Kyle Turris of the first line, Bobby Ryan of the second line, and Curtis Lazar of the third line all scored goals in Saturdays game against the Panthers. The top 6 of Michalek-Turris-Stone and Hoffman-Zibanejad-Ryan continue to score and play well each night, while the only line that didn't score or get many looks was Puempel-Legwand-Chiasson. Puempel will travel with the team to California this week, along with Colin Greening who will play at least one game and Zack Smith who is just there for good company. I have thoroughly enjoyed the absence of Paul Macleans Greening-Smith-Neil line, which for all I know was created just to see how bad a team fans would tolerate. For all I know that line is the biggest factor keeping teams from hiring Paul Maclean: "Wow, I see you were nominated for the Jack Adams and then won it the next year, very impres- wait do I see Zack Smith averaged over 15 minutes a night while you were coach? What the hell is a Zack Smith??".
Erik Condra played over 17 minutes and was solid the whole time. He'll become an unrestricted free agent this summer and could be looking for a small raise from his current salary at 1.2mil per season. With the line up crowded as it is, Bryan Murray might be giving teams around the league a look at Condra before the trade deadline on March 2nd. Condra is clearly a quality player and has proven it over and over this season, it would be a shame if the Sens gave him up. With guys like Legwand, Greening, Smith and Neil being nearly untrade-able it may be the Sens only option in order to resign the likes of RFAs Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Mike Zibanejad, JG Pageau and Alex Chiasson - three of which are in the top six.
Mike Hoffman only played 11 minutes despite leading the team in goals and playing great all season. Cameron may be reserving him for mainly offensive situations if he doesn't have much faith in his defensive play, even though Hoffman also leads the team in plus/minus with a whopping 20. I don't know if this frustrates Hoffman, but it frustrates me. All season its been the more we play Hoffman the better our offence. Maybe owner Eugene Melnyk would rather Hoffman scored less so he'll demand less money this summer, but he'll still have red hot Mark Stone to worry about.
Stone, one of the NHLs leaders in takeaways, lead the Senators in ice time with 18 minutes. He deserved every one and continues to give Sens fans a reason to look forward to next season, in which he'll be only 23 years old. #61 has been amazing since Cameron took over and has registered a point in all but 4 of his last 18 games played totalling 19 points. He had 8 in 15 before that, giving him 27 of his 37 points this season in the past 33 games, and only 10 in his first 22 under ex-coach Paul Maclean. His slow production during Macleans tenure could be attributed to the team needing to find chemistry early on, but the fact is Cameron has been playing him more and deserves some credit.
Erik Karlssons third period goal to put the Sens up 3-1 was an absolute beauty. I had the pleasure of watching the play unfold live at the CTC and was left sitting there with my jaw-dropped. From a little skirmish at the Ottawa blue line Michalek popped a perfect pass out to centre and out of nowhere Karlsson flew down the ice and ripped a perfect wrester glove side on Luongo, who had been stoning the Sens with the glove all game. It was Karlssons 14th goal of the season, 45th point, and 10th point during his current 6 game point streak (2G, 8A). This guy is phenomenal when he's at his best and has been on fire lately. Methots return has clearly elevated his game and the Sens could ride that to a nice end of the season even if playoffs are unlikely. Here's a link to Karlssons goal below:
I'll be posting again soon about the game on Wednesday against Anaheim. Thanks for reading and don't forget to comment what you think!