Senators' hot start bodes well for playoffs

When you're only seven games into a new season, it's very important not to get too high on successes or too low on defeats. Just as it seems unlikely that the Colorado Avalanche will keep playing out-of-their-mind hockey to lead the Western Conference, it's also highly unlikely that the Toronto Maple Leafs will go the whole season without a win (although most Senators fans would probably hope that would continue). So any Ottawa Senators follower who's trying to plan out the team's Stanley Cup parade based on their 5-2 start needs to take a deep breath.

When drawing in that deep breath, though, there's one positive statistic you can keep in mind: Of the eight Eastern Conference teams in a playoff position at this time last season, seven went on to make the playoffs, while only one (the Buffalo Sabres) fell out of the top eight. So it's all well and good to be optimistic, but make sure you're cautiously optimistic.

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On October 20, 2008, the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference were the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, and Boston Bruins. Although there was plenty of movement within those eight, only the aforementioned Sabres fell out of the playoffs (in favour of the Philadelphia Flyers). There was a lot more changes in the Western Conference (four teams fell out of playoff spots after Oct. 20), but the bottom line is this: A hot start gets you on the right track, and it's easier to stay in a playoff spot than it is to work your way into one.

For an Ottawa Senators team looking for a serious rebound from a disappointing playoff-less season last year, it's definitely a good sign. But there's plenty of danger in making any assumptions, including the fact that the Senators have to date defeated just one of last year's playoff teams (the Canadiens), and the fact that there's still 75 games left in the regular season. Nonetheless, it's a good place to sit.

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