The second-half of the NHL season commences tonight, with a full slate of action across the ice. There isn’t much time to sit back and relax, as there’s a quick turnaround here for players who were at the All-Star festivities in Los Angeles. A lot of people like the format of the All-Star Game, but I can’t say it’s one of my favorites. Just go back to a regular game with the conferences playing, or at least, it’s the way I see it anyway. The most entertaining part of the weekend had to be the game with the celebrities in it.
Notably, Chris Pronger shoving Justin Bieber into the boards was kind of funny for a minute. We move on from the first-half of the season, with our eyes set on the rest of the season. The rest of the season entails a furious rush for the playoffs, followed up by the playoffs and the Stanley Cup Finals. Any team who makes the postseason has a chance at winning it all. That’s what makes the NHL playoffs so exciting.
We can already circle in who’s going to be playing in the NBA Finals. While we can make an educated guess at the NHL, it certainly isn’t as clear-cut. For all intent and purposes, the NBA has little reason to play the regular season out. However, the finals always provide plenty of excitement, but not so much before then. In the NHL, the first round until the Stanley Cup is hoisted has you on the edge of your seat. For tonight, though, we get back to the ice in Florida.
The Ottawa Senators look to keep their good fortunes going in the second-half of the season, as they come into the backend of the season with a record of 26-15-5. Overachieving? Well, I don’t think I’d go that far, but an 8 or 7 seed is just about where the Sens figured to be. They might be able to win a game or two in the playoffs, but I don’t expect them to make anything out of it. Conversely, the Florida Panthers are trying to keep their head above water, while the decision to fire Gerard Gallant is fresh on the minds of many. With a record of 21-19-5, there is work to be done. Tonight they focus on the Senators at home in Florida.
It’s been an up and down season for the Panthers, and something no one could have seen coming in the offseason. Gallant getting fired? Here is a guy being considered for coach of the year honors, yet here we are, and Gallant doesn’t have a job and the Panthers are hanging just above .500. The Panthers and Sens last played on December 3rd, which resulted in the Senators blanking the Panthers by a score of 2-0. The Panthers were able to snap a four-game losing streak by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, before the start of the break. They’re scoring just 2.26 goals per game this season, while allowing 2.64 goals, so I would have to say, the Panthers should be happy with their record given all that.
Meanwhile, the Senators have been pretty even with 2.62 goals scored per game and 2.60 goals allowed. Likewise, though, the Sens should be happy with a record of 26-15-5 given those numbers. However, I could very well see the Senators coming in a little slow on Tuesday night. It’s the first game back after the break and what better way to come back then a stop here in Florida. I expect the Senators to look like they’re still on vacation against the Panthers. The Panthers need to get the second-half of their season started off well and I think they do just that on Tuesday night.
PICK: PANTHERS TO WIN -115