One more day, Sens fans. Your Ottawa Senators will be back in action tomorrow, so the wait is almost over.
There's no question that this week's four-day break between games has been tough for Sens fans; at this time of year, watching other teams catch up to yours in the midst of a tight playoff race can be agonizing. The Buffalo Sabres extended their winning streak to five games this week, and the Washington Capitals won last night (and gave a charity point to the Boston Bruins in the process, all but putting the Northeast division crown out of reach), putting them both well within striking distance of the Sens. And victories for the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers means that if the Sens make the playoffs, it'll almost certainly be in seventh or eighth place overall.
To make it worse, the layoff may wreak havoc on the Senators themselves. It's well documented that Craig Anderson plays his best when he plays frequently, and we can't afford to try the current alternative if he falters. Also, the Senators organization hasn't had much luck with extended layoffs between games during the springtime: Recall, if you will, the nine-day layoff between the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final in the 2007 playoffs. A shorter layoff may not have helped the Sens out against the Anaheim Ducks, but it's impossible to say today.
On the other hand, the layoff could very well do the team some good. Head coach Paul MacLean has been working hard to combat rust in the team, so maybe they won't have to dust any off when they take to the ice tomorrow. It seemed like Anderson's hand hadn't necessarily fully healed as of last game, so the time off might allow him to get back to full health--and it's allowed Jesse Winchester to return to action without missing more games than he otherwise might have. Experienced players like Daniel Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Phillips, and Filip Kuba are probably glad for a bit of a rest, and younger players who might have bumps and bruises--including perhaps Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris--will have had some time to work those problems out.
We'll find out which side of the coin we're dealing with tomorrow.
- Bryan Murray thinks the Sens need three wins in their final five games to make the playoffs. Winning all five would be better. (Canoe)
- Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowen have exceeded expectations this season, but some credit is owed to Ottawa's veteran defencemen for offering guidance and support. (Postmedia)
- Calgary-based writer Randy Sportak says Karlsson should win the Norris Trophy and MacLean should be a runner-up for the Jack Adams. (Calgary Sun)
- Karlsson's getting close to breaking Nicklas Lidstrom's record for most points in a season by a Swedish defenceman: EK's got 76 points, Lidstrom once scored 80. (Ottawa Sun)
- I'm sure you've seen it by now, but Mika Zibanejad celebrated a recent goal by Tebowing. (Puck Daddy)
- The Montreal Canadiens just fired Pierre Gauthier, but his fingerprints are still all over the Ottawa Senators. (Postmedia)
- A call for Calgary Flames fans to insist their team embark on an (Ottawa Senators style?) rebuild. (Matchsticks and Gasoline)
- And if you're wondering why the Flames need a rebuild, look no further than this account of what they do while games are on. (Matchsticks and Gasoline)
- The Toronto Maple Leafs embarrassed themselves last night, and put their team in lottery pick-position in the process. (Pension Plan Puppets)