The Sens complete their longest homestand of the season -- and also hit the 20-game mark -- as they host the struggling Philadelphia Flyers to their barn. Thursday night's win over Columbus strengthened their hold on 2nd place in the Atlantic, as they are now a full 2 points (and 2 games in hand) ahead of Tampa, and 3 points (no games) ahead of Detroit. Maintaining a top-three place in the Division is important because if you look at the two wildcard teams, they are right on Ottawa's tail (Islanders are tied in points in as many games, and Devils are 2 back but with a game in hand). Every team ahead or slightly behind Ottawa has more ROWs so the tie-breaker is not our friend. Simply put, we need to keep pace with the other teams in our Division (so no more losing to Detroit).
Although the Sens had lost 2 of the first four games of this homestand, the losses came in OT/SO, so Ottawa actually has a chance to finish with 8 of a possible 10 points. That would not be bad, at all. As badly -- or, perhaps, inconsistently -- as Ottawa has played this season, over the last 10 games they actually have more than kept pace with the Canadiens, gaining a point in the standings on their closest (distance-wise) Division rival. In fact, of all the teams in the East only the Rangers (9-1-0) and Penguins (7-3-0) have more standings points over their last 10 games. No doubt, much of this recent success has to do with the suddenly-potent power play which, until Thursday night, was on a 50% pace over the last 5 games. Against Columbus they managed one goal in 5 opportunities, and that coming with the opposition net empty.
The Flyers is one of the few teams with fewer ROWs than the Senators. They are just 3 points ahead of the last team in the East, and 4 ahead of the league-worst Oilers. They are dead last in the league in goals for per game. Their powerplay is atrocious (28th?) They are not making the playoffs. But in this league any team can beat any other team on any given night (just ask the 30-point Habs and Rangers who, last night, lost to 19-point Coyotes and Lighting, respectively). The Sens will need to maintain a strong forecheck to push the Flyers' defensemen into making mistakes.
With the suspected concussion to Wiercioch, Cowen will draw back in after being a healthy scratch the last game. Ryan thinks he may be OK to go but we will find out closer to game time. If he's too sore to play expect Prince to draw back in.
Anderson has already been confirmed as the starter.
GO SENS GO!!!