Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 20, 2011

For all the Ottawa Senators’ shortcomings, you couldn’t fault their effort in Tuesday night’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 20, 2011
Matt Puempel. (Julie Oliver/OttawaCitizen)


THE STORY:
For all the Ottawa Senators’ shortcomings, you couldn’t fault their effort in Tuesday night’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. They played a strong, structured game, outshooting their opponent 40-27 and giving themselves a wonderful opportunity to snap a lengthy home losing streak. As usual, scoring chances didn’t translate into actual goals.

THE SUBPLOTS: Hat tip to the Citizen’s Ken Warren for spotting this statistic: If the Senators lose in regulation to the Flyers tonight, their record will drop to 17-24-7 — the exact same record the team had when former coach Craig Hartsburg was fired in favour of Cory Clouston. While it’s been all quiet on the job security front of late, Clouston and general manager Bryan Murray’s futures with the team are still in question.

THE WILDCARD: Mike Fisher, Senators. Fisher scored for the second time in as many games when he popped in the Senators’ only goal against the Ducks, and the team needs to see more of them. Fisher is on pace for just 35 points this season, well below last year’s 53. To be fair, he is seeing better competition from opposing lines with Jason Spezza nursing a shoulder injury.

THE OPPONENT: The Flyers are playing like everyone expected them to last year, when they slipped into the playoffs by winning their last game. Now they sit atop the NHL standings, tied in points with the Vancouver Canucks but holding the top sport by virtue of having more wins. Making matters worse for the Senators? Bruising defenceman Chris Pronger is expected to return from a broken foot tonight.

THE QUOTE: “When you lose a couple of your offensive guys that you rely on heavily, then you have to rely on guys who are more of a sort of role player. It’s easier for them to chip in offensively when the attention isn’t on them all the time, when they’re playing more to their role. Now, they’re playing against different lines, against different (defence) pairings, against different matchups, so it’s the game within the game that changes when you have key guys out of the lineup.” — Clouston, explaining the changing roles of the role players.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — G Pascal Leclaire (lower body, day-to-day), C Jason Spezza (shoulder, indefinite), RW Alex Kovalev (knee, one week). Flyers — D Chris Pronger (foot, probable), RW Ian Laperriere (concussion, out for season).

THE PREDICTION: Even when the Senators are playing well, they don’t have enough talent to pick up wins. They can generate all the chances in the world, but if they don’t bury a few more, they are destined to continue their losing ways. Guys like Jesse Winchester, Chris Kelly, Zack Smith and Ryan Shannon are only going to provide so much offence. Senators 1, Flyers 5. (See who the rest of our prediction panel likes in this one by clicking here).

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