THE LOWDOWN is a gameday preview produced by “Hockey Pat” McGrath, a lifelong Cats fan who previously wrote for the Florida Panthers themed blog “TheRatTrick”. The contents of THE LOWDOWN and all opinions expressed therein are solely those of Hockey Pat and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Florida Panthers or Sunrise Sports & Entertainment LLC. Having said that, if you find yourself laughing or smiling as you read the LOWDOWN, feel free to thank us. We accept thank you notes, tweets and ticket purchases.
Ottawa Senators vs. Florida Panthers
|Senators ||Panthers |
|Record ||29-29-13 ||26-38-8 |
|Points ||71 ||60 |
|Place ||6th in Atlantic ||7th in Atlantic |
Back in the Sunshine State, the Florida Panthers look to enjoy some home cookin’ when they welcome in the Ottawa Senators. The Sens have been dealing with rapidly plunging approval ratings as the team is currently in the midst of a 2-6-2 tailspin. Ottawa, however, is coming off a 4-3 shootout victory over Tampa Bay last night and the team will be wrapping up their 12th back-to-back of the season tonight in Sunrise. So far, the Senators are 2-7-2 is the second half of back-to-backs this season.
Here is tonight’s lowdown:
Tonight will be the fourth and final matchup between these two Atlantic Division rivals. The Sens took the first two games of the series before the Panthers got one on the road in Ottawa, a 4-2 win in mid-December. The Cats fell behind 2-1 in that game but staged a frantic comeback capped off by this game winning rocket from Tom Gilbert:
How about that primal scream from the booth? Goldie was definitely feelin’ it on this one.
Ottawa Players to Watch
#65 Erik Karlsson: Already five seasons into his career, the Sens’ 23-year-old defenseman has matured into a legitimate NHL superstar thanks to his impressive box of offensive tools. With 68 points (20-48-68) in 71 games, Karlsson leads his team as well as all NHL defensemen in scoring. The speedy Swede had three points (1-2-3) last night in Tampa Bay, including this toothsome finish in the first period:
Yeah, he’s pretty good…
#19 Jason Spezza: Taking over captaincy duties from the departed Daniel Alfredsson, the Senators center has continued his steady play. With 59 (19-40-59) points in 66 games, the 30-year-old is second to only Karlsson in team scoring. Spezza is coming off a strong game in Tampa as he recorded a goal in regulation and the game-winning score in the shootout.
Speaking of Spezza…
The Senators began the year as a darling NHL playoff dark horse but things have not gone as planned north of the border. Captain Jason Spezza expressed some of his frustrations to the media regarding what the Sens have left on the table.
“We’ve had better teams, for sure, that have had higher expectations,” Spezza said. “But I think we expected to make another step as a group this year and we haven’t, we’ve taken a step backward.”
Failing to meet lofty expectations is one way to draw the ire of your head coach and Ottawa general Paul MacLean expressed his frustrations with the losing in the form of a no-pucks practice on Sunday that was instead heavy on the sprints.
“We’ve lost five in a row or whatever it is, so I have no problems with how (Sunday’s) practice was,” Spezza said. “If you don’t win hockey games, that’s how you get treated.”
Let’s pour one out for Panthers’ broadcaster, and Syracuse alum, Steve Goldstein, who had to endure an early end to the party as his beloved basketball team got bounced from the big dance by the underdogs at Dayton.
Luckily his broadcast team was there to have his back:
This is Ottawa’s mascot:
He is a cat….which has nothing to do with ‘Senators’ as a nickname, and quite frankly he is stepping on the toes of the NHL’s finest Cat-based franchise.
Long live Stanley C. Panther!!!
Enjoy the game. Let’s go Panthers!