Pesky Sens; that was a nickname that Ottawa Senators fans named the team as they pushed into the playoffs during the seasons that they made them. It was often due to fighting against the odds, bending but not breaking, and winning tight games that allowed those teams to make the playoffs despite having their many doubters. Although they have not used that name in a while, that characteristic defining the team has not gone away.
This year, some things have changed, yet some have stayed the same. The Senators are still trying to build off of last season’s successes. Erik Karlsson is having another Norris Trophy worthy season, Mike Hoffman has continued on his goal-scoring tear, Marc Stone has avoided the dreaded sophomore slump, and Bobby Ryan has rekindled his touch. Still within the playoff bubble, the Senators will look to gain a more secure position in the standings.
What has allowed this team to constantly remain competitive in such a tight playoff race is their strong character. It seems that after every time they face struggles during the season, the find little to bounce back with important wins. The recent run in California is a great example. In Anaheim, they lost the game within the final five minutes after a strong effort to hold the Ducks offense off.
Two days later, the team faced another challenge in the Los Angeles Kings, and once again fell behind in the third period, this time by a score of 3-1. Within 26 seconds, they would tie the game with goals en route to win the game. The following day against the San Jose Sharks also demanded character and perseverance from the team, considering they were once again behind in the third period while outshot and out chanced.
For advanced analytics lovers, the Senators are not playing ideally. However, their strength in recent years has come through timely scoring and solid goaltending. Having them to change all that is unlikely, but expect the team’s best moving forward.
Senators’ February Feature Games Against Playoff Contenders
Maintaining a consistent series of wins as eluded the Senators all season long. If they hope to make the playoffs, they cannot continue to play at .500, as other teams will start to widen the gap.
Considering the competition in the Atlantic Division which the Senators belong to, they must contend with Florida, Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Boston. In the Metropolitan Division, Washington, the Rangers, the Islanders, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Carolina have all making their own pushes to make it into the post-season.
During the next month and a bit, they will be encountering some of these teams for numerous games, so the Senators will have to take full advantage against those they are vying against.