Realistically, the Ottawa Senators will not win the division. But let's take a look anyway at their chances. Ottawa has 76 points in 65 games while Boston has 77 points in 61 games. The Bruins are on an 82 points pace had they played 65 games.
So essentially, Ottawa has to erase a 6-point deficit in 17 games. Ottawa is 34-23-8 while Boston would be 39-22-4 (if they go 2-1-1 in their extra games). The Senators would have 29 non-shootout wins and Boston would have 32 if their two wins are not in a shootout. Assuming Ottawa erases the six points deficit exactly by winning three more games, they would have the same number of non-shootout wins and thus it would go to the head-to-head tiebreaker, which Boston would win.
Practically speaking, Ottawa has to outright pass Boston to win the division. For Ottawa to have a realistic chance, the Bruins would have to continue to struggle as they are right now. They went 5-7-1 in February and were shutout an incredible five times in their 13 games. They have 17 games in March, including three sets of games on back-to-back nights and only once do they have more than one day off between games.
Both teams play their final four games on the same days in April, including a visit to Ottawa by Boston in the second last game of the season. If the Senators are still only a point back at the end of March, then they control their own destiny for winning the division by winning out in April.
What would this require? Ottawa's schedule in March are home games against Chicago, New York Rangers, Buffalo, Montréal, Toronto, New Jersey, Pittsburgh while they also visit Florida, Tampa Bay, Montréal (twice), Winnipeg and Philadelphia. If they can manage to go 8-4-1 in that stretch and Boston goes 8-8-1 in their brutal month, then the Senators only earn the chance to win the division by beating Boston at home and matching the other results.
A lot of things have to go right for Ottawa, they have to have a very strong March, hope the Bruins struggle due to their busy schedule, and then Ottawa still has to beat the Bruins in April. According to Sports Club Stats, the Senators have a 3% chance at winning the division.
Links after the jump. Warning: They are mostly about Erik Karlsson.
Here are today's links:
- Lines in practise today were: 1) Michalek-Spezza-Butler, 2) Greening-Turris-Alfredsson, 3) Foligno-O'Brien-Neil, 4) Konopka-Smith-Condra. (Sylvain St-Laurent)
- The defensive pairings were: 1) Kuba-Karlsson, 2) Cowen - Gonchar, 3) Phillips - Gilroy. (Sylvain St-Laurent)
- Cyril Leeder cries poor about the government of Ontario potentially taking away corporate tax credits for companies that spend money on entertainment such as Senators games. It's such a negligible amount that to claim it would put the Ottawa Senators out of business is a bit far fetched. (Ottawa Citizen)
- Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop have both had strong performances in Ottawa and Binghamton recently. (Senators Extra)
- Laurie writes an excellent article comparing Erik Karlsson to other elite defencemen in hockey history. (Silver Seven FanPost)
- Greg Wyshynski weighs in on the Karlsson for Norris debate, with Karlsson not ranking in Wyshysnki's top four due to his perceived defensive struggles. (Yahoo!)
- Karlsson did rank first in Norris voting among a combined poll of 11 hockey writers from USA today and other newspapers. Jason Spezza was sixth in the Hart Trophy vote. (USA Today)
- Karlsson won the NHL's second star for February after scoring 7 goals and 11 assists for 18 points in February. (NHL)
- Ken Warren is wary of signing Karlsson to a super long contract, preferring to pay more for around five years than to lower the cap hit but commit for ten years. (Senators Extra)