Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 25, 2011

The Ottawa Senators are on a winning streak (!) after knocking off the Maple Leafs in Toronto and picking up a convincing 5-1 win against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Place.

Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 25, 2011
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


THE STORY:
The Ottawa Senators are on a winning streak (!) after knocking off the Maple Leafs in Toronto and picking up a convincing 5-1 win against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Place. Who could have predicted this team would be lead down the stretch by a rookie sniper (Bobby Butler) and a goaltender who started the year in Colorado (Craig Anderson)?

THE SUBPLOTS: The Senators may be grooving to a winning vibe right now, but can they sustain it as their roster is picked apart? The latest veteran hopping a flight out of the capital is Alex Kovalev, who will try and help the Pittsburgh Penguins overcome the losses of their two best players and a handful of depth guys. The move opens up another roster spot with the Senators, who are showing that youthful enthusiasm can sometimes be more effective than fading talent.

THE WILDCARD: Butler, Senators. With his five goals and seven points in the last five games, he has basically locked down a spot in the opening night lineup next season. Butler shows what can happen when call-ups are used right. Why put a scorer on the fourth line? Try him at the top and see what happens. Jason Spezza certainly likes playing with the kid. Ottawa’s top centre had three points in the Florida game.

THE OPPONENT: The way the Buffalo Sabres started the season, it’s shocking to see them hunting down the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Easterm Conference. But there they are, three points out with two games in hand. More startling than anything is the fact they’ve been able to pull it off without the services of their best player, Derek Roy.

THE QUOTE: “I was an assistant coach when we won the Memorial Cup. I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a guy who loved to score more. Going back to his junior days, he would put 50 pucks on the ice in front of the net and put 49 under the crossbar. Just a very good set of hands.” — Senators coach Cory Clouston on the team’s latest pickup, Marek Svatos.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — G Pascal Leclaire (lower body, indefinite), RW Daniel Alfredsson (back, indefinite), C Jesse Winchester (knee, indefinite). D Sergei Gonchar (lower body, doubtful), W Peter Regin (shoulder, indefinite). RW Chris Neil (lower body, questionable). Sabres — C Derek Roy (quadracep, indefinite).

THE PREDICTION: It’s been a nice little run for the Senators, but now they’re facing a decent team with a great goaltender. Craig Anderson can’t score goals too and, while Ottawa surprisingly put up five against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, that felt more like an anomaly than actual, long-term progress. But they could surprise me. Senators 0, Sabres 3. (See who the rest of our prediction panel likes in this one by clicking here).

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