Weekly Question: How Will the Ottawa Senators Close Out the 2021-22 Season?
They quality of competition will begin to decrease from this point on, but can they take advantage?
Thursday’s game sparked quite a bit of discussion regarding whether or not the Ottawa Senators’ rebuild is headed in anything resembling the right direction.
After all, they were completely hopeless against the Florida Panthers, an elite team with no glaring weaknesses, and one which could be considered the gold standard for the end result of a successful rebuild. If not for Anton Forsberg, the Senators would have lost that game by at least six goals.
You know, just like the Panthers did the last time they played Ottawa.
How quickly we forget. If you told me that the Ottawa Senators would outscore the Florida Panthers 8-5 in two games *on the road*, I’d probably laugh.
In all seriousness, we’ve seen tons of examples of the Senators being easily put away by stronger teams, but we’ve also seen them beat those same teams as well. This season, they’re 2-0-1 against the Carolina Hurricanes, 1-0-1 against the Minnesota Wild, 1-1-0 against the Colorado Avalanche, and 1-1-0 against the Panthers, who had to have been especially motivated going into Thursday’s contest, considering the *Ottawa Senators* had outplayed and outscored them to the point of being booed off the ice earlier in the season.
Combine that with the fact that the Panthers are one of the best teams in the league, along with Ottawa’s best player in Drake Batherson being out with an injury, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
I’m in no way suggesting that the Senators had a good chance to win that game even with a fully healthy roster, but I also think it’s important to consider every ounce of information available before jumping to conclusions, whether it’s after a single game, or ten, or fifty.
Teams go through injury/health trouble all the time, but it’s crazy to me that after 53 games, we still haven’t seen the optimal version of the 2021-22 Ottawa Senators. How good, or bad, are they, really? With Colin White and Josh Norris shaking off the rust from their respective injuries, we’re starting to see a clearer picture, and the remainder of Ottawa’s schedule should give them ample opportunity to show us what they’re made of. White is an especially interesting case, as these games will form a decent sample from which we can use to tell where he could realistically slot into the lineup next season.
Of the 29 remaining games in Ottawa’s schedule, 10 of them are against teams currently below them in the standings. Another 10 are against teams ahead of them, but still out of a playoff spot. Compared to their more recent workload, it should be easier, in theory, to add to their wins.
The Senators will be sellers once again at the trade deadline, but the best players they’ll move will most definitely be no more than depth NHLers, potentially including Nick Paul, Chris Tierney, Zach Sanford, and Tyler Ennis. Moving one or two of these players and replacing them with a younger prospect won’t affect the overall quality of the roster too much.
They’ll also be adding other players after the deadline, too. Drake Batherson fully recovering from his high-ankle sprain will provide a much-needed boost to the team’s offense, and 2020 5th-overall pick Jake Sanderson could be ready to contribute in an NHL role right after the conclusion of his collegiate career.
All that said, how many wins do you expect the Senators to have by the end of the season?
Will Ottawa have at least 35 wins by the end of the 2021-22 season?