Who To Cheer For: April 7
As we enter the homestretch, a look at how tonight's games could shake things down for the Sens.
The Ottawa Senators currently sit two points behind the glut of teams stuck at 95 points in the Eastern Conference: the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It really stings to know that those two points were dropped in consecutive weekends against the Toronto Maple Leafs. If those extra time losses could've turned into extra time wins, Ottawa would be tied on points with those four teams (though losing the ROW tiebreaker to each of them).
The good news is that Ottawa has the chance to make those points up tonight. A regulation win against Pittsburgh would be fantastic. A regulation loss to Pittsburgh would effectively end Ottawa's playoff hopes. Even if Ottawa won out after that loss, the odds of them making it would be pretty low. Which would be unheard of, since the last time a 95-point team failed to make the postseason was 2010-11. A 97-point has never failed to make the postseason. But as has been said often, the 2014-15 Ottawa Senators may surprise you.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators
Take all the superlatives that have been used for the last month, all the references to big games and must-win games, and apply them to this game. If Ottawa loses tonight in regulation, they need to get at least three points from the final two games and hope that one of Boston or Detroit loses all three of their remaining games. The good news for Sens fans is that Pittsburgh is on a 3-6-1 streak, and will likely be missing Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. Still, Ottawa will need every bit of that Hamburglar Magic to keep their playoff hopes afloat.
The other games that matter
Carolina Hurricanes at Detroit Red Wings
Ottawa desperately needs the Wings to lose this game. The more teams Ottawa can catch, the better. The good news is that the Hurricanes have been playing well of late, and the Wings have not.
For those concerned about the top of the East, the Rangers are at the Devils, and the Islanders are at the Flyers. At this point though, I'm too concerned about Ottawa's chances to pay attention to anything but the closest teams.