Ottawa Senators (37-30-5) Vs Montreal Canadiens (36-29-7) @ 7:30pm, Bell Centre Television: Sportsnet
Including tonight's game, there are ten games left on the schedule. And depending on your perspective, it's plenty of time to turn things around or piss away a playoff position. According to Sports Club Stats, Ottawa still has an 89.6-percent chance to make the playoffs -- a number that still seems favorably high when you consider that the ninth place Thrashers are only 4 points back of the 5th place Senators.
What bodes well for Ottawa is that the Thrashers are the only team on the outside of the current Eastern Conference playoff picture who could conceivably catch the Senators and usurp them from the playoff picture. That doesn't mean Ottawa's comfortable with their recent plight.
A few days after Bryan Murray came out and indicated that the team's fortune was strictly in the hands of the players, with a 1-7-1 record in their last 9 games, it now seems as though management's looking for any kind of spark and has taken matters into its own hands.
Cue the recall of Zach Smith.
"Zack arguably could probably have been up here for a good chunk of this season. Sometimes it's been a numbers game, and right now we feel we've got ourselves in a situation where we could really use his youthful energy." — Clouston on what he hopes 21-year-old call-up Zack Smith will bring to the floundering squad.
Originally, I had assumed that Smith was recalled as a prospective replacement for the injured Milan Michalek, but that's not the case. To make room for Smith on the roster, Ryan Shannon has been scratched from tonight's game. Consequently, it begs the question, if Smith's recall can't inspire the Senators, where does the team go from here?
If the answer turns out to be Mike Brodeur, then I may consider alcohol as a viable coping mechanism.
Here's my prediction that was featured in James Gordon's Ottawa Citizen Prediction Panel...
Senators 2, Canadiens 4
This Senators team is more overrated and confusing than a season 6 episode of Lost. For a team whose confidence is as fragile as Ottawa, it will be interesting to see how they respond to the urgency of playing for sole possession of 5th place in the Eastern Conference.
Here are the lines for tonight's game:
According to Sportsnet, the leg injury that Milan Michalek suffered when he collided with a goal post in Atlanta, may be worse than originally expected. Michalek will undergo a MRI and further tests on his knee sometime this afternoon.
Leclaire Vs Elliott
Watching the Senators goaltending situation unfold reminds me a lot of the Senators 2007-08 season. Like Ray Emery, Pascal Leclaire has been given every opportunity to reclaim his job but has failed miserably to re-assert himself as the number one guy. Admittedly, Cory Clouston has said that the goaltender debate is drawing to a conclusion...
"We're going to have to have one guy, I'm not going to say carry the whole rest of the load, but one guy is definitely going to have to step up."
Melnyk Cashes His Chips In
Since November 24th, 2009, The Euge has sold his 9,635,800 shares in BioVail, the pharmaceutical company that generated his fortune. So for those keeping track at home, Melnyk can sell high on the BioVail stock, but Sens management still doesn't understand the premise of selling high on some of its players.