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Cap Me This: Senators @ Capitals Preview



"#5 Ottawa Senators would clinch a playoff berth…* if they defeat the Washington Capitals AND both the New York Rangers and Atlanta Thrashers lose (in regulation or overtime/shootout) to the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectivelyOR* if they get one point vs. Washington AND the Rangers and Thrashers both lose in regulation"

After last season’s big bowl of shit-less little insects not making the playoffs, and the off-season of turmoil, whether it was Dany Heatley striking out in Bytown, Erik Karlsson rising out from the dead and becoming a superhero, or the deadline acquisitions of Matt Cullen and Andy Sutton, the team has finally achieved what was the first goal for the team this season. Make the playoffs. While many “experts” said Ottawa would finish at best 8th place (including me), everyone stuck together, and we fought through adversity every night, in and out. And tonight, we will be back in the big ticket. The 08-09 season was an aberration. Now, let’s see if we can go far, and make Canada proud. All In, All Red.

Even though it’s unlikely they can clinch the berth tonight, I will be watching all three games on Centre Ice. Ottawa hasn’t won in D.C. in over 4 years. The last time we won, Dominik Hasek was our starting goaltender. Ottawa has a 2-1 lead in the season series, including the pre-Olympic Break’s classic in Ottawa, where the Sens won 6-5 from impressive play by guys like Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Alex Kovalev. Brian Elliott will get the start tonight. Brian Lee will play on the third pairing with Matt Carkner (nightmares abound), as Anton Volchenkov is out with an upper-body injury after being demolished hit by his own man, Andy Sutton. Brian Elliott will of course get the start, as he looks like to continue his strong play of late. Ells is 3-0 against the Capitals lifetime. Bobby Butler, who will wear #16 on his jersey, will be a healthy scratch tonight along with Shean Donovan and Ryan Shannon. Part of me wants Dono to come in, but why screw up with chemistry? This will likely be Dono’s last season in the NHL, or at least last with Ottawa.

Work hard. That’s what Ottawa needs to do today. Even though they’re down the usual Cap-Killer Volchenkov, there’s no reason why they can’t win this one. Washington lost on Sunday to the Calgary Flames of all teams, so they’ll likely be coming out gang-busters. Limit they’re chances in the 1st Period. But most importantly, play to win, don’t play not to lose.