I’m not going to sugar coat this.
What happened? Just last Saturday, Ottawa had a chance to overtake the Montreal Canadiens for the division lead, and now there’s a possibility that they’ll only finish in a wildcard spot.
Ever since their six-game winning streak, it’s been incredibly frustrating watching this team. They’ve gone 2-5-3 in that span, and have scored a grand total of 16 goals. Sure, they have played some tough teams like the Canadiens, Penguins, Blackhawks, and Wild, but if you want to be a team that can do some damage in the playoffs, these kind of performances aren’t going to cut it.
Now, whenever a team goes on a losing streak, it’s easy to overreact and be short-sighted about things. Having said that, I think everyone would agree that the last 10 games have been a massive disappointment. Just the fact that they could not even beat Montreal once in three games is not a good sign.
Of course, the injury to Erik Karlsson is a massive blow to this team, and it’s understandable that they would not look as good. Other injuries to players like Zack Smith, Cody Ceci, Marc Methot, etc. don’t help, but Ottawa’s only been truly decimated in the last two.
It’s frustrating that for almost the entire season, the playoffs seemed like a certainty. I would have thought that a playoff spot would be locked down with a week or two to go, but now it might come down to the wire. With Tampa Bay three points back and just four games remaining for them, it would still take an epic collapse for the Senators to not make it.
But it doesn’t really matter about the 8th playoff spot. If Ottawa grabs a wildcard spot and end up behind Toronto and Boston, how is it any different from previous seasons? This whole season we believed that they could actually get home ice advantage, or at least 3rd in the division.
The franchise needs to finally take a step forward, and I would not even be excited by finishing 8th in the conference and ending up having to play the Washington Capitals in the first round.
The Maple Leafs are now tied with the Senators with 91 points, but they have more regulation/overtime wins, so Ottawa will have to get more points than them in the final five games. The Bruins are one point up with only three games to go, so Ottawa is still in the drivers seat, but they have to take advantage of their games in hand.
No matter what though, it is extremely tight between these three teams, and the Senators probably need three or maybe even four wins to finish 2nd.
With all that doom and gloom out the way, Ottawa’s season is far from over. They have gone through their worst stretch of the season, and I hope it is over. They have five games left in the year, and they have a chance to get home ice advantage for the first time since 2007. That would be a real accomplishment, but it is going to take an entire team effort to do that.
Furthermore, I’m extremely excited to see what Colin White can do. I’m not sure what kind of role he will have, but he’s a shot in the arm that this team desperately needs. I don’t expect the world from him, but they might need him to play well.
Teams go through cycles the whole year, as it looked like they were unbeatable immediately after the trade deadline. We just have to hope that they finish the season hot, right as the playoffs are about to begin.
The last thing I want is for this team to back up into the playoffs and get there just by default. I want them to play these games as if they needed to win every single one just to get in. The difference between playing Toronto (or Boston) and Washington in the first round is massive, especially if they end up getting home ice.
I doubt this week will decide if they make the playoffs or not, but their first round matchup is incredibly important.
I’ve written my frustrations, and now it’s the Senators job to get things done. Bobby Ryan needs to make some kind of impact. When Zack Smith plays, he needs to get points. Ryan Dzingel needs to finish his chances. When Cody Ceci plays, he needs to be more defensively aware in the defensive zone. Alex Burrows needs to provide some energy. Just someone other than Mark Stone, Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, and Kyle Turris needs to step up and help this team win.
At the end of the day, I’ll take this stress over not being in the playoff picture at all. But this is not the spot I expected the team to be in just a couple weeks ago. It’s put up or shutup time for Ottawa.