As big as Monday afternoon’s win against the Devils was, the four game home stand that the Senators begin on Tuesday could be the most important four games of the season.
Four home games, none back to back, one day in between each one. A perfect schedule, a rested Craig Anderson. Three games against teams that are right around them in the standings, including one each against divisional rival Montreal and Toronto. The Senators will not make the playoffs based on a strong performance this week, but a poor performance would make life very difficult going forward.
Because, after the 4 game homestand, the Senators embark on a 5 game road trip and have 7 of their next 8 away from the friendly confines of Scotiabank place.
While Paul MacLean can use the benefits of last change to get matchups that he wants at home, it is tougher to do that on the road.
It kicks off with a matchup against the Islanders, who were embarrassed on home ice against the Flyers, 7-0 at the same time the Senators were beating the Devils. Both teams will have the same amount of rest, and while Ottawa will have a rested Craig Anderson, the Islanders will most likely start Rick Dipietro, who is 0-2 this season with a brutal 4.62 GAA and a woeful .842 SP. Either that or they will start Evgeni Nabokov, who allowed all 7 Flyers goals on just 25 shots on Monday.
Then it is a rematch of last April’s playoff series when the suddenly surging Rangers come to town, and then back to back divisional rivalries with Toronto on Saturday for a Hockey Night in Canada rematch and then a chance to get revenge on the Habs for the “No Goal” call on Monday.
If the Senators come away with 6 or 7 of a possible 8 points, they will be in good shape heading onto the road, and should still be in the playoff hunt.
If they mange to secure less than 4 points in the 4 game set, they will be in serious trouble, probably on the outside looking in and find themselves rowing against the current minus a couple of important paddles (named Spezza and Karlsson).