January 2011 was a nightmare for the Ottawa Senators and their fans, and if January 2012 is a dream, the Sens and their fans don’t want to wake up.
Ottawa ended the calendar year of 2010 with a 16-18-5 record for 37 points, and were sitting in 10th place, but still within striking distance (6 points) of the playoffs. January was a turning point, playing without star Jason Spezza for almost the entire month. They ended January 2011 at 17-28-8, and the Sens fell to 13th in the East and sat 15 points out of 8th place. In 11 games, they only managed to secure 5 points in the entire month. The team was in total disarray, allowing 41 goals in the month as Brian Elliott struggled mightily to keep the puck out of the net.
Fast forward one year, and January 2012 has been a polar opposite. Halfway through the month, having played only 7 games, they are 6-0-1, securing 13 points already in the month, almost triple their performance of a year ago already, with 7 more games in to go. Craig Anderson has dominated this month, allowing only 12 goals in 7 games while the offence has put up 25 goals. It hasn’t been perfect, as the Senators have been vastly outplayed at times, and have gone to overtime in 7 of their last 12 games. But the final result (and the 2 points) is all that matters, and the Senators have found themselves tied for 4th in the East and only 2 points behind Boston for first in the Northeast Division and 4 points back of the Rangers for first overall. Admittedly, the Senators have played more games than all but 3 teams in the NHL, but they have put the points on the board and at 8-1-1 in their last 10, are the hottest team in the league.
How long can the hot streak continue? The little team with no expectation outside this city, (and even from some inside it), is sitting 10 games above .500 and is on pace for its first 100 point season since it went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007. With Anderson playing like he did in his 20 game stretch after coming over from Colorado, the sky is the limit. This team has confidence and has demonstrated that they are never out of a game, which can only mean good things. The next test will be 6 straight on the road that will take up most of the rest of the month. It will actually be a 5 game road trip followed by the All-Star break and then another road game. How they finish out January will go a long way to determining just where they might finish up.
However they end the month, they will be in a way better spot than they were 365 days earlier.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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