The Ottawa Senators find themselves in must-win territory after back-to-back losses to the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. If they are defeated by the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday (March 14), it will all but end their playoff hopes – such is the importance of their clash with the team captained by Connor McDavid.
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“There are parts of the game we need to clean up,” said forward Austin Watson after their defeat in Calgary. “That being said, you do have to address it and have a short memory because this time of year the next one matters as much as any of the rest. It’s tough. It [stinks]. It’s back-to-back games with outcomes you don’t want.”
The Senators performed feebly in their 5-1 loss to the Flames and dropped six points behind the wildcard places as a result. They also saw Thomas Chabot and Mathieu Joseph leave the contest early due to injury. Bluntly, it was a terrible outcome for Ottawa – will they be able to bounce back with their season on the line versus the Oilers?
Senators’ Injury Concerns Before Oilers Clash
Smith will have a couple of marquee decisions to make if Chabot is unable to play versus the Oilers. While the 26-year-old has endured a bumpy season, he has retained his position as the team’s top defenceman and ice-time leader.
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Chabot, even with his mistakes this season, is an important puzzle piece for Smith – which complicates the Senators’ trip to Edmonton. If the Canadian is unavailable, it will force rookie Jake Sanderson into an elevated role versus the ridiculous firepower at the disposal of the Oilers. It wouldn’t be ideal.
Senators Must Rediscover Scoring Form Versus Oilers
The Senators have been an offensive non-entity since they scored five on the Kraken in Seattle. They found twine twice in Vancouver and were limited to one goal by the Flames. But is there hope for them versus the Oilers?
Edmonton conceded seven to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday – and allowed the same number versus the Winnipeg Jets a week earlier. The Oilers never know what to expect from their tandem of Stuart Skinner and Jake Campbell – which should jolt the Senators into life.
Despite the team’s recent decline, Tim Stützle has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last five appearances and has clearly taken a step forward this season. Could he be the difference-maker for Ottawa?
Brady Tkachuk is another player to watch. He is pointless in his last four and is under pressure to rediscover his offensive production versus the Oilers.
Senators’ Playoff Hopes Hang By a Thread Before Oilers Clash
It really is now or never for the Senators. Granted, they have two games in hand over the New York Islanders – but they also have the hardest schedule to navigate down the stretch. Here are their next five opponents:
- Edmonton Oilers
- Colorado Avalanche
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Boston Bruins
Smith, when asked if the schedule had undone Ottawa, said: “It’s a disappointing couple of outcomes here, but the shorty [versus Calgary] in the first period took a lot out of us. The mindset was there, we were checking, but it was 2-0 before we knew it and we weren’t sharp enough in our most important shifts.”
Ottawa’s resilience will be put to the test versus the Oilers. The Senators find themselves in a precarious position to make the playoffs after back-to-back losses and now face a do-or-die clash with the Oilers. If they are forced to play without Chabot and Joseph, a tricky situation will be made even more difficult.
Ultimately, it all comes down to this for the Senators. They face a horrible schedule down the stretch and are under immense pressure to break their skid versus the Oilers. Will they be able to keep their postseason hopes alive? We’ll find out soon.