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Silver Seven Mailbag Part 1: Playoff Talk

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For part one of the Silver Seven mailbag, we answer your questions about the 2017 playoffs for the Senators

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

You have asked, and we have answered! The mailbag is finally back, and this will be part one of three, since there were lots of questions asked. Your question may be in part two or three, but you may want to see what other interesting questions other readers asked. Here they are:

We made moves this deadline that shows we are serious playoff contender. My question is, how far away are we from being a cup contender? This can be measured in time or in parts needed—--David Rajsic

I'll look at this as parts needed, mostly because as excited as I am for prospects like Thomas Chabot and Colin White, there is no guarantee that the prospects in the system now will be enough to make this team a Stanley Cup contender, let alone how long that would take.

If we look at the team as it is now, there are two primary areas of need to make this team competitive against the best teams in the NHL: A high-scoring forward and a top-four defenceman (I sound like Bryan Murray, I know). But honestly, without either of those pieces, this team wouldn't be able to get past Pittsburgh or Washington in the playoffs.

What would that cost? A lot. Probably some of the Sens' best prospects and maybe even some members of the current roster.

As it stands right now, the Sens are 20th overall in goals for on the season. This kind of offence would not hold up against the power houses of the Eastern or Western conferences. Because of some decent goaltending from Mike Condon and Craig Anderson throughout the season, the Sens are the 9th best team in the league in goals allowed.

The Sens (and the system) do a pretty good job and shutting things down once they have a two goal lead, but it hasn't always worked out. Ill-timed defensive breakdowns have cost this team a number of leads throughout the season. A top-four defenceman would certainly help to rectify that.

This is all in a "perfect situation" kind of world. It would cost a lot for the Sens to get the pieces required to make them a Cup contender. But these are the pieces I think are needed. Whether or not they can get them is another discussion itself—Michaela

How far do you think the Senators will go in the playoffs? Why?—-Anonymous

Obviously this one depends heavily who the Sens meet in the playoffs. But overall, because of the way the playoff matchups are determined, I think it's safe the say the Sens have a good chance of winning one round.

Let's assume that the Senators stay in second place in the Atlantic going into the playoffs, and play the third seed in the first round. If the playoffs were to start today (you probably haven't heard that one before) the Sens would face Boston in the first round. Between the possible matchups of Toronto, Boston or Florida in this scenario, Boston would probably be the toughest competition. But that doesn't meant it would be impossible for the Senators to win.

However, if the Sens find themselves playing the Toronto Maple Leafs (which I secretly hope they do), I think they have a better chance to make it to the second round. The Leafs are a high-power offensive team, but they are also inexperienced in the playoffs... and regular season, for that matter.

They've struggled to hold onto leads in mid-season games, so just imagine the trouble they will have with this young group in the playoffs for the first time. The addition of Brian Boyle brings a lot of playoff experience, but the Sens also upped their collective playoff experience with Viktor Stalberg and Alexandre Burrows. In a seven game series, I would give the advantage to Ottawa.

Now, things really change if Ottawa manages to somehow win the division. Should the Senators finish the regular season atop the Atlantic Division, which I don't see happening, they would likely face a wildcard opponent from the Metropolitan. The most likely matchup at this point would see them meet the New York Rangers in the first round. If this turns out to be the case, I would give the advantage to New York.

To actually get to answering your question, I think it's entirely possible that the Sens win at least one round in the playoffs, as long as they meet a team from the Atlantic Division. However, if they find themselves against a Metropolitan team, it's going to be a lot more difficult for them to get out of the first round—Michaela

With the momentum built from this season can we expect an upward trend moving into the playoffs into next season? We have had seasons before where it seemed we were on the right track only to slide in the past so I just wanted to get your perspective that if were on the right track or not—-Anonymous

Thanks for the question. The way I’m approaching the Sens’ future right now is with skeptic optimism. I’m optimistic because we have some fantastic pieces in place that will hopefully guide us to the playoffs next season. Erik Karlsson is arguably one of the greatest defensemen of all time, and Stone and Hoffman are bordering on elite if not elite already. However, that doesn’t leave some room for some skepticism.

First is the possession numbers. We’ve been below 50% in expected goals for pretty much the entire season, which has lead me to question the sustainability of The System. The middle defensive pair, assuming it stays the same for next season, will most likely continue to be our weak point.

There’s also a few other unstable places that could potentially turn 2017-18 into a plummet. An aging Craig Anderson has been in the backs of Sens fans’ minds for a few years now. The bottom six could be abysmal next season depending on how Dorion addresses it in the off-season. The Atlantic division could get stronger next year, with teams like Florida and Tampa Bay making a resurgence and bumping Ottawa out of the conversation. These are all legitimate concerns to be had.

Moving onto the positives, Trevor wrote an article back in July about why 2017-18 should be the year the Sens go all-in. The biggest reason is the additions of Thomas Chabot and Colin White to the roster, who should no doubt both provide significant contribution of some sort.

An infusion of youth is something the Sens have really missed this season (Cody Ceci is their youngest regular), so those two should give this team an extra boost. These are two prospects who are legitimately worth getting excited about.

So I guess this is just a really complex way of saying I don’t know. There’s reasons to believe next season will get better, and reasons to believe it will get worse. Let’s just hope for the best—Colin

Hi SSS writers, looking at the potential playoff match ups, would it honestly be beneficial for Ottawa to win the Atlantic division to face a potential power house opponent from the Metro division? (i.e NYR) or would it be a blessing in disguise to finish second in the division to face Boston or Toronto for example? Thanks for answering my question guys, keep up the good work —-Erik6karlsson5

Honestly, the only good thing about winning the division would be the satisfaction of beating Montreal and actually winning a banner for once. In terms of playoff implications though, it probably is advantageous to get 2nd in the division, because the Rangers are better than any one of the Bruins, Panthers, or Leafs right now.

Either way I’ll be happy, as long as they don’t slip past 2nd in the division—Trevor

Stay tuned for part 2 and 3 of the mailbag where more of your questions are answered!