When it seemed like the Ottawa Senators should throw in the towel for the season, they have entered the last days of February with only their second four-game winning streak of the season. Unlike the rest of the Canadian teams, they seem like they are actually trying to push for the playoffs rather than looking to sell their rental assets and simply play out the rest of the season.
That being said, have the Senators been actually playing better of late, or are they simply getting positive results? Much like the rest of the season so far, they have maintained a below average Corsi percentage with a 47.9% over their last four wins. They still struggle to limit the shots and chances against them, but the Senators have made a stronger commitment to defense and are trying to play a closer score.
Senators Commitment to Defense
If the Senators are going to continue to make a legitimate push, they will have to continue to limit to opposition’s scoring like they have been doing during their winning streak. The run-and-gun high scoring game that they’ve been trying to play all season long is one of the roots to the their inconsistencies, so eliminating that is crucial.
During the team’s miracle run last year, they swept clean their California road trip, and as fans can remember the rest is history. This season, they have not had that one moment that one can define as season-turning. Expecting any team to perform way beyond its normal capacity two seasons in a row is a lot to ask, but them being in a better position than they were last year at this point of the season could make it easier this time around. The Senators hope that they can finish their western Canadian road trip with a sweep, and if that happens they can seriously contemplate being buyers at the trade deadline.
Prior to Thursday night’s game in Vancouver, Ottawa sits at a 7.3% chance at making the playoffs, according to sportsclubstats.com. Much of the team’s playoff fate lies in the teams around and ahead, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers, who both have two games in hand. As much as they will try to avoid it, watching the standings will be a temptation difficult to resist. The Senators will have to focus on their game and continue to doing the little things right.
No Pieces to Sell
Given the fact that their only pending unrestricted free agents are lifelong Senators, Chris Neil and Chris Philips, Ottawa could not be much of a seller even if management wanted to go that route.
General manager Bryan Murray has stated that he may want to add a piece even at his team’s current position. He will not go after a rental, since Ottawa’s playoff hopes are very uncertain. He believes that he has pieces to trade for another piece with term beyond this season, one of the reasons why they are in play for Jonathan Drouin.
Approaching the last wildcard spot before the deadline arrives could make Ottawa pursue a deal.