Now that the Ottawa Senators have officially qualified for the playoffs, the next question on everyone’s minds is “Who will Ottawa play against?” According to Micah McCurdy’s HockeyViz, Ottawa has three possible first-round opponents: the Capitals, Bruins, and Maple Leafs. Ottawa has two games remaining, and they need to earn two points to guarantee finishing ahead of the Leafs, and three points to guarantee finishing ahead of the Bruins. (Of course, any points lost by the Bs or Leafs over their last games helps this out, too.) Ottawa would lose the Regulation + Overtime Win (ROW) first tie-breaker with the Bruins and would most-likely lose to the Leafs, so just getting the points would be ideal. Here is the likelihood and the scenario for each matchup happening (percentages from HockeyViz):
The Sens would play the Bruins (78%) if...
- The Leafs lose at least one of their remaining games in regulation OR
- The Leafs lose both of their remaining games in OT/shootout OR
- The Bruins win their final game AND the Sens win at least one remaining game OR
- The Bs win their final game AND the Sens lose both games in OT/shootout OR
- The Leafs lose one game in OT/shootout AND the Bruins lose in OT/shootout AND the Sens pick up at least a point over the weekend
Ottawa would get home ice against the Bruins if Ottawa picks up two points over the remaining two games OR Ottawa picks up one point and the Bruins lose in OT/shootout OR the Bruins lose in regulation in their one game.
The Sens would play the Leafs (18%) if...
- The Leafs win both their remaining games AND the Bruins lose their game OR
- The Leafs win one game and lose the other in OT/shootout AND the Bruins lose their game in regulation
The Sens would get home ice in this series if they win one of their two remaining games OR the Leafs gather three points over their final two games and the Sens get one point over their final two games. (Even if Ottawa/Toronto tie in ROW [TOR currently ahead 38-37], they tie the second tie-breaker [points earned in head-to-head games], and Toronto wins the third tie-breaker of goal differential.)
The Sens would play the Caps (5%) if...
- The Sens lose both their remaining games in regulation AND the Bruins pick up at least a point in their game AND the Leafs pick up at least three points over their two games OR
- The Sens pick up no more than one point over their remaining games AND the Bruins win their game AND the Leafs win both of their games
Ottawa (obviously) can’t get home ice in this series.
So there you have it: two points guarantees second in the division and a more favourable first-round matchup. Here’s Adnan’s quick summary:
Sens and Leafs have 2 games left, Bruins have 1 left. Here is who Sens would play and home ice depending on results. pic.twitter.com/P9NQpBRism— Adnan (@AdnanOnMUFC) April 7, 2017
I’m a little torn on who I’d rather face in the first round. A series against the Bruins would be interesting considering it’s never happened before, but they’re a team with great possession numbers and unrealistically terrible shooting percentages all year, the NHL’s fourth-leading scorer, and a goalie with an impressive playoff resume. They’re primed to do damage in a weak division. Ottawa may have swept the season series, but the playoffs are a different animal. The Leafs series could re-ignite the battle of Ontario, but I don’t think I could handle a fifth loss in five tries against the Leafs. They would be the weakest of these three opponents though in my opinion. The Caps would be the hardest matchup, so I’d like no part of that please. That position would earn Ottawa a passage through the Metropolitan Division, meaning that even if the Sens managed a miraculous first-round victory, they’d “earn” the right to face the Penguins or Blue Jackets in the second round. I’d love to stay in Atlantic.
Maybe by tonight, this will all be wrapped up. I sure hope so. GO SENS GO!