With the Detroit Red Wings putting the boots to the New Jersey Devils by a 7-4 score on Friday night, the Ottawa Senators are now in “must win” territory, perhaps more than ever before in this season.
They have nobody to blame but themselves for the situation they find themselves in: 6 points out of the final wild card spot currently held by Daniel Alfredsson and the Red Wings. Two very substandard losses in Alberta, where wins should be relatively easy to come by have put them squarely behind the 8 ball and turned what was a decent shot at snagging the last playoff spot into a virtual longshot where they have to play upwards of .800 hockey for the rest of the season in order to get a shot.
And they also need help from the Red Wings’ and Lightning opponents to keep them from getting points and within striking distance. The catch-22 in this is that its not only the Wings or the Lightning (8 points up on Ottawa) that they need to catch. The Devils, Blue Jackets and Captials are also ahead of them, and that is what makes the Senators’ task all the more difficult. Because if Detroit or Tampa lose points, chances are pretty decent that it was one of those other teams that took those points.
It’s like a chase group in the tour de france bicycle race. The Senators, Devils, Captials and Blue Jackets need to work together to reel in the lead pack and then worry about who gets the spots.
Fortunately, Detroit has a couple of tough games coming up against other teams battling for Eastern Conference playoff spots as well, in the Rangers and the Blue Jackets. Ottawa’s next two games are against Winnipeg and Nashville, Western Conference teams who are on the outside looking in, although the Jets are closer than the Senators to reeling in a spot.
From here on out it is must win for Ottawa, pretty much for the remainder of the season.
Starting with Saturday afternoon in “Win”nipeg