Ottawa Senators at Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 29, 2011

After watching coach after coach get pink slips in the capital, the Ottawa Senators finally put the nail in another bench boss’s tenure for once.

Ottawa Senators at Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 29, 2011
General Manager Bryan Murray is deep in thought as the Ottawa Senators practice at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, March 19, 2014, . (Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Ottawa Citizen)


THE STORY:
After watching coach after coach get pink slips in the capital, the Ottawa Senators finally put the nail in another bench boss’s tenure for once. Less than 24 hours after his squad lost a 4-3 squeaker here, Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice paid the price with his job. While the ‘Canes are starting from scratch, the Senators keep rolling along. That game was the fifth of six in which they’ve registered at a least a point.

THE SUBPLOTS: How long will the Nikita Filatov experiment last? There have rumblings that the talented, but underachieving high draft pick may bolt for Russia if he can’t stick in the NHL with the Senators, and that will all depend on his play in the coming days and — if all goes well — weeks. He didn’t manage to hit the scoresheet in just under 13 minutes of work against the ‘Canes.

THE WILDCARD: Jason Spezza. With two poor defensive teams like the Senators and Jets, this one could turn into a shootout. Should it go that way, the Senators’ No. 1 offensive gunslinger should feature prominently. Spezza has been a bit of a streaky scorer this season, but perhaps his two goals in the last contest indicate he’s heating up once again.

THE OPPONENT: On paper, the Jets shouldn’t be notching as many goals as they are (ranked 12th in goals per game). Looking up and down the forward ranks, not a single player stands out above the rest as a truly elite scorer. Exhibit A: Kyle Wellwood is their leading point-getter. Somehow this group is getting it done by committee, however. Of course, having big Dustin Byfuglien lugging the puck around — defensive responsibilities be damned — helps the Jets’ offence out a great deal.

THE QUOTE: “He has the skill level of a top-six forward, and we don’t have a lot of that on our team, so we want to make sure we give him the opportunity to show that he can do it, and that he wants to.” — Senators coach Paul MacLean on Filatov, who will get a great opportunity to succeed playing on a line with Spezza and Colin Greening.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — (D) M. Carkner (knee), (C) P. Regin (shoulder), (RW) C. Neil (ankle). Jets — (D) D. Meech (lower-body), (D) R. Jones (ankle), (D) T. Enstrom (collarbone), (D) B. Festerling (upper-body), (D) R. Hainsey (lower-body).

THE PREDICTION: This is a tough one to pick, considering I had these teams finishing last and second-last at the start of the season. Well, they’re still within striking distance of each other (both have surprised by posting .500-ish records), but their battle is taking place a little higher up in the standings. Since I don’t really see much separating them, I’ll have to go with the home team here. Senators 3, Jets 4 (CLICK HERE TO SEE WHO THE REST OF OUR PREDICTION PANEL LIKES IN THIS ONE).

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