The NHL regular season has once again flown by, this year Ottawa Senators fans won’t be left staring gloomily out of their windows. Playoff hockey is returning to Kanata.
After the Canadian drought last season there seems to be a rainfall. Five of the seven franchises look set to reach the promised land. Winnipeg and Vancouver missing out as it stands. The Ottawa Senators aren’t needing to look above but rather below as they are in prime position to win the Atlantic.
Two points behind with two games in hand, the Sens have been in this position numerous times this year. 8-2-0 in their last ten, Ottawa have kicked into gear even with injuries mounting. Mark Stone seemingly suffering a serious injury in Arizona last week. Listed as week-to-week, the only hope can be that he comes back earlier than expected.
Ottawa have flourished away from the limelight this season and it the fans seem to have bought into that. Of course, success is expected in any hockey market, after all, each fan wants to see “the good guys” lift the Stanley Cup. Ottawa, still relatively in its infancy of the returned franchise hasn’t quite succumbed to the mass hysteria suffered in some markets.
The benefit is that the players can go about their business. Without feeling the pressure every time they hit the ice, or questioned by the media. To draw a comparison it has to be Ontario neighbours, Toronto. Look at the two extremes in that market, either turning on the players or presenting them like gods. That sort of pressure is not healthy nor sustainable for a team bidding for hockeys’ ultimate prize.
I am not saying for a second that Ottawa Senators supporters are less supportive. They seem to buy into the system on and off the ice. Meaning, not panicking when things haven’t gone to plan. Conversely, not getting carried away when times are good.
15 Games To Win The Division
Erik Karlsson and the team have a chance to win the division. Deserving a crack at top spot. With a litany of divisional ties ahead, they hold keys, to their rivals playoff aspirations.
The two upcoming matches against the Montreal Canadiens will most likely decide who deserves the crown. Games both home and away, a mini-playoff series. Where both teams can flex their muscles against a potential later round matchup. Should both teams be so lucky. The Metropolitan division will have a few words to say about that.
Ottawa’s next four games are Tampa, Chicago and Montreal twice. An extremely tricky stretch where this is a genuine possibility to come out pointless. Doing so would not be season defining. It would just mean the Ottawa Senators would jeopardise their Atlantic aspirations.
With Kyle Turris likely to return tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he will add a much needed boost to the top-six with Mark Stone’s injury. Bobby Ryan is also expected to be back into the lineup imminently.
Alex Burrows continues to make a big impact on his new team alongside Viktor Stalberg. We can only hope that Chris DiDomenico can keep himself out of the penalty box.