Final Push: Ottawa


Ottawa Senators. A few years ago, they were an offensive powerhouse.  They made it to the Finals. And then, poof, it was all gone. Lately, they’ve returned to the basement from which they came.While they’ve pretty much sucked for most of the season, they’ve played a nice role in the playoff race over the last few weeks.  When the Devils were surging and on the cusp of sneaking into the playoffs, it was the Sens that won a pair of games, in regulation, and put things out of reach for New Jersey.  They’ve beaten a desperate Rangers teams recently, keeping them from clinching a playoff spot. They’ve played close contests with a lot of other good teams recently, including Tampa and Boston.

This is the time of year that teams like Ottawa have only one thing to play for: frustrating teams ahead of them that still have dreams and aspirations. You know they’re coming into this game hoping to beat us so that we no longer have and inside track to first place in the conference. Their GM will be looking to see which guys can really play against one of the top teams in the league, and who needs to go. It’s a meaningless game for them on a team level, but there’s plenty for them to gain personally. They’ll be without their captain, meaning they’ll have more ice time to shine.

For us, it’s the same old story. It’s a weak team, that should yield two points, if we actually show up. Time and time again, we’ve heard Lavy mention that we want to lock up home ice for as long as we can.  Still, the Flyers haven’t looked consistently hungry for a while. I do think that will change tonight for one reason: there are a handful of guys that need to really prove themselves an earn a spot in the line-up for the playoffs.

  • Ville Leino: He got benched in the third period and he’s been openly pissed about it.  Lavy is ok with that, and predicted a monster game out of him.
  • Nik Zherdev: He’s been back for a pair of games and has showing a much better effort.  He must have hated sitting, and now that he’s got one more chance, I’m sure he doesn’t want to waste it.
  • Andreas Nodl: He sucks, he’s always know it, but now it’s become even more apparent. He was finally benched, but is back thanks to a few injuries. He has to show that he can add something useful to this team.
  • Ben Holmstrom: He’s also playing tonight because of injuries to other guys. He’d rather be here than in Adirondack, and tonight gives him another chance to show he can play. For all we know, Betts and Briere might miss some time in the playoffs, so we might need him to fill in for them.

I know these guys aren’t the main cogs in the Flyers machine, but they are important. They’re spread out across different lines, meaning each of them can have a big impact on the entire team.  If they come out, playing hard, working their ass off, it will get their linemates going. And that becomes contagious, when other lines feel the adrenaline and they also start to push. Then again, if these guys coast, we’re screwed.

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