Despite the fact that they have had an up and down season, with more downs than ups, the Ottawa Senators still find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot. After last night’s win over the St. Louis Blues, they sit in 3rd place in the Wild Card race, just 3 points behind the reeling Toronto Maple Leafs.
There are 4 teams breathing down the Senators’ necks from behind, but the advantage there is that they are all Metropolitan Division teams (New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York Rangers and Columbus), who are all closer to the Hurricanes for 3rd in their division than the wild card race.
With a couple of good games this week on the road against New Jersey and then back home against Florida, the Senators could end the week in a playoff spot with a little help.
The biggest difference between themselves and the Maple Leafs at this point is the shootout. Both teams have been involved in 6 shootouts, with the Leafs posting a 4-2 record and the Senators a 1-5 record. That is the 3 point difference right there, and two of them came directly in games against each other.
Two shootout losses that even if they had been able to split, Ottawa would be within 2 points. IFs and BUTs are good in hindsight, but the fact is that despite often substandard and frustrating play, the lack of depth of the Eastern Conference has a lot of teams in the same boat.