There are 5 other games that impact the Eastern Conference playoff race besides Ottawa hosting the Bruins. Here is a quick outline of the ideal outcomes for the Senators as they continue their quest for the post-season. Three teams that have very limited playoff hopes can all play spoiler to 3 other teams’ playoff hopes, while one match-up pits contenders head to head.
TORONTO @ BUFFALO – Buffalo trails the Senators by 12 points, so they are not going to catch the Sens. The Leafs win over Tampa on Wednesday moved them into sole possession of 6th place, 4 points behind Ottawa.
IDEAL OUTCOME: Buffalo Sabres win, in regulation
MONTREAL @ NY ISLANDERS – While the Senators could still harbor thoughts of catching the Habs (5 point differential), the more important thing at the moment is keeping the Islanders from joining the playoffs and giving another team a chance to catch the Senators, no matter how unlikely it may be. The Isles are 3 points out of the playoffs and trail Ottawa by 9.
IDEAL OUTCOME: Habs Win
FLORIDA @ NY RANGERS – Much like the Sabres, the Panthers are simply playing out the string, and can play spoiler. The Rangers currently sit in a logjam with the Canes and Devils for the 7th through 9th spots. That group is 6 points behind Ottawa, and the Sens could use the Rangers to stay where they are.
IDEAL OUTCOME: Rangers loss
NEW JERSEY @ CAROLINA – These two teams are tied for 8th, with Carolina holding the added playoff option of winning the Southeast. They trail Winnipeg by two points in that race. Ideally, knocking keeping the Canes focused on that race as well as the race for 8th benefits the Senators.
IDEAL OUTCOME: Carolina win, in regulation. A three point game is the worst possible outcome.
WASHINGTON @ WINNIPEG – Like the Sabres and Panthers, the Capitals playoff hopes have almost been extinguished. However, keeping the race for the Southeast Division close keeps the two teams involved in that race’s attention diverted two ways.
IDEAL OUTCOME: Washington win.
So there you go, 5 games with 5 outcomes that could conceivably have the Senators up 8 points on 9th place at the end of the night. Worst case scenario, the Senators could see the gap between them and 9th place shrink from the current 6 points down to 5.