The Ottawa Senators have two more games of their tough run of fixtures. The Pittsburgh Penguins come to town having already secured a playoff berth.
This in no way suggests that the Penguins are taking their foot off the gas. No chance, with just one point separating them from the Washington Capitals they’ll be hungry for two points. Still not convinced? The Caps play the Blue Jackets in what will be an immensely tight affair. A loss for them and a win for the Pens would leave them not only top of the Metropolitan, but top of the league. The Ottawa Senators however, can force evermore pressure on the Montreal Canadiens.
A Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Ottawa finally got a win Tuesday against divisional rivals the Boston Bruins. Winning a nail-biter in TD Garden.
The top-six is starting to look better and better. Incredible how refreshing it is to have Turris and Ryan on the same line again.
Stopping that skid will have done so much for team morale in that dressing room, when you can’t seem stop the leak of losses, heads can drop. Guy Boucher is not a coach to allow this to happen, outlining his confidence in The System to his players and getting 100 percent out of them.
Pittsburgh will offer a late-round Stanley Cup audition, should the Sens get that far. This is what fans want to see, how their side matches up with the reigning champions and of this year’s favourites.
Differences Between The Teams
Firstly, let’s take a look at the powerplay. Ottawa are 17.7 percent on the powerplay that is 22nd overall in the league. Contrasting to Pittsburgh’s 22.2 percent which pins them at fifth in the league.
Secondly we have the penalty kill. Ottawa are 81.3 percent effective and Pittsburgh 80.5 percent. Leaving both teams 13th and 17th respectively.
Pittsburgh A Side In The Ascendancy
Winning six of their last eight games, they’ve alleviated any fears that the wheels were falling of the back-to-back train. Calgary and Edmonton were their toughest tests in that eight game span, losing to the former in a shootout and beating the latter in a shootout. No real cause for concern given the form of those teams.
The other six games were not playoff worthy fixtures for them and almost had a scare at home to New Jersey. With most opposition this would give confidence for Ottawa Senators fans. The problem being is that Pittsburgh are big team players, meaning they fundamentally turn on the heat against the better teams.
Just like Ottawa will be testing some playoff tactics out, as will Pittsburgh. By no means an invincible side to face, formidable nonetheless.
The Ottawa Senators will get a real taste of what it could be like in the first round of the playoffs should the chips be dealt that way. Either way, the chances of playing Pittsburgh in the post-season are rather high.
Ottawa will need to shutdown this team early and hope the defence leave some holes for the Sens to break out into.
One thing is for sure, Ottawa will want to make sure that Crosby keeps two hands on the stick tonight.
Prediction: 3-2 OTW, Ottawa.