World War II was a must-win.
If you stop to think about it, every game is really a must-win. There's not really a point in the season where a loss is preferable to a win. Perhaps you might argue that a team might, say, lose on purpose to try and secure a top pick who turns out to be a huge jerk, or maybe you won't try so hard at the end of the season so that you get a matchup against a team reeling from injuries, but by and large, you want to win every game.
But even though that might be true, there's no appreciable difference between 82-0-0 and 81-1-0. Both would be incredibly impressive feats, and though the one loss would stand out as a blemish, in the scope of a team's fortunes, it's essentialy irrelevant. Still, it's undeniable that some games carry more weight than others. And that weight is determined by math, because when the playoffs are out of reach, winning has no benefits.
Ottawa is quickly approaching must-win status for most of its games. They come into tonight's game 13th overall in the conference, but tied with the New Jersey Devils (who they play on Wednesday), the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. They're one point back of the New York Rangers, and three points back of the 8th place Carolina Hurricanes. The Blue Jackets host the Winnipeg Jets tonight, so a win tonight could see the Senators vault from 13th in the conference to 9th--at least temporarily.
More than that, though, tonight's game is a must-win from a mental aspect as well. The Senators' play has been slowly improving from a rough start, and their point production is starting to reflect that improvement--they bagged 5 of a possible 8 in their last four games, and almost clawed their way back to earn another point against a potent Los Angeles Kings team.
It's easier to believe in things when they work out in your favor. The Senators need to beat a team like the Blues not only to keep their playoff hopes alive, but because beating a top team like the St. Louis Blues is the kind of fuel that can convince you to remain committed even when you know the odds are against you. The Sens blew their chance against Los Angeles. They get another tonight.
- James Gordon says that if the best players get to play, Robin Lehner should be getting the starts. Hard to argue with that. [Senators Extra]
- Varada doesn't like the way the Senators are trying to be a hitting team, and you know, he makes a pretty strong case for why it's a bad thing. [WTYKY]
- Craig Anderson says he just had a bad day against Los Angeles. I'll say. Even if that's true, the Senators can't afford any more "bad days." [SE]
- Jeremy Milks thinks Paul MacLean needs to suck it up and stabilze all the positions because the Senators can't afford to have more bad days. [Black Aces]
- Ottawa's been lucky this season. [T6S]
- Marc Methot is ready to return, which means Cody Ceci's getting reassigned... we think. [SE]
- Eric Gryba fell down during a fight. That means it's time to Photoshop! Why doesn't Darth Vader just use the Force to keep him from falling? [Bonk's Mullet]
- Despite kicking head coach Paul MacLean's dog, Bobby Ryan believes in rolling four lines. [SE]
- The prediction panel either thinks Ottawa gets buried tonight or Brian Elliott sucks tonight. Hope is not a strategy, guys. [SE]
- A great interview from ESPN the Magazine that's pretty much Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane talking with each other. Kane ruined Toews' HNIC debut! Just one more example of why hockey players are the best. [ESPN]
- In case you missed it, Shawn Thornton has been suspended for 15 games. And yeah, Brooks Orpik is a coward who gives other players cheap shots and won't answer for it, but that's not an excuse to cheap shot him in return. [PHT]
- With Kris Letang now on IR, the Pittsburgh Penguins have made some callups. [PHT]
- Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts. [CBC]
- Vincent Lecavalier can't rehab his BROKEN BACK because he's also having back spasms. Jeeze. Poor guy. [Courier-Post]
- In New Jersey, Peter DeBoer would like just one of his goalies to get on a roll. Hey, I would like one of our goalies to get on a roll, too, but I bet DeBoer and I mean different things. [Fire & Ice]
- The AHL played its outdoor game (its ONLY outdoor game, as far as I'm aware) in my hometown of Rochester, NY. If they had played Binghamton, I would have gone. But Frontier Field will never be as cool as Silver Stadium was. [D&C - Only 30 free articles left, but don't worry, you're not going to read the paper that often.]
- Scott Hartnell wrote a children's book. Normally I'd joke about this, but it's already him laughing at himself and doing things for a good cause, so no snark from me. [Courier-Post]