3 Senators Who Need to Step Up for Playoff Chase

Heading into the weekend, the Ottawa Senators had won six of their last seven games before dropping back-to-back contests against the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. losing by a combined 10-3 score, they looked like a shell of the team that was on fire pushing for the playoffs.

All hope is not lost, as they are just six points back of the New York Islanders for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. However, the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, and Buffalo Sabres are also in the hunt for a wild-card position, so the whole team will have to step up, and these three players, in particular, will need to elevate their game over the final stretch to make a playoff push.

Alex DeBrincat

Alex DeBrincat has yet to show his full skillset as a member of the 2022-23 Senators. He has 21 goals and 34 assists, which puts him on pace to finish well below the 41-goal mark that he hit in 2021-22 on the Chicago Blackhawks. Now playing on the second line, he will need to provide an offensive spark and do some heavy-lifting in the goal-scoring department.

Alex DeBrincat Ottawa Senators
Alex DeBrincat, Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When the Sens traded high-end picks for him at the 2022 Draft, they took a big swing that has yet to pay off. The 25-year-old has another level he can hit, and if the team is going to make a miraculous push, it will be in large part because DeBrincat gets hot at the right time.

Related: Senators’ 2022-23 Season Is Already a Success

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Snipers, no matter how bad a season they might be having, can always go on a tear and turn a season around. We will see if that’s the case for DeBrincat down the stretch.

Shane Pinto

Shane Pinto has been a pleasant surprise this season, but he also needs to elevate his game if the team wants to make the playoffs. In March, Pinto is averaging 17:40 of ice time per game, slotting into a second-line role alongside DeBrincat and Drake Batherson.

Since the start of Feb, he has scored five goals and three assists, and he has the ability to be a difference-maker playing such a pivotal role for the team. The 22-year-old is on pace for 21 goals, which would be an impressive finish to his first full season in the NHL. 

Shane Pinto Ottawa Senators
Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

The injury to Josh Norris opened the door for Pinto to earn a top-six role, and he has done just that. However, with the clock ticking on the season, he needs to ramp up his play and solidify his place as the second-line centre, especially as the matchups get harder.

Mads Sogaard

Mads Sogaard has been everything the organization could have possibly wanted, and he’s on this list simply because he has the potential to steal the Senators some crucial points in the final 16 games.

It has been a tale of two months for Sogaard, who was named the NHL’s rookie of the month in Feb, with a 4-0-1 record, a 2.33 goals-against average (GAA), and a .922 save percentage (SV%). But in March, those numbers have regressed to a 1-2-0 record, a 4.36 GAA, and a .843 SV%. The Senators will need outstanding goaltending to hold onto a wild-card spot, and if Sogaard can return to his previous form, they will have the opportunity to steal some points.

The Senators have their work cut out for them. If their starting goaltender steals some points, their big-ticket offseason acquisition gets hot at the right time, and the rookie second-line centre can punch above his weight class, they have a chance to leapfrog the Islanders in the standings. Their season relies on many “ifs”, and these three players stepping up is one of them.

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