The regular season draws to a close this evening for the league and the Ottawa Senators. Who they face comes down to how their Ontario neighbours fair.
I don’t know about you but it has been one of the most exhilarating and nail-biting months. From Atlantic contention to the threat of no playoffs at all, the Ottawa Senators are finally there. Who they face comes down to Toronto’s ability to clinch a point this evening against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Many are thirsty for a rejuvenated Battle Of Ontario, I differ on that mindset. As impressive as it would be to play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, they are too unpredictable. Ottawa’s defensive injuries have shown how frail The System can become once exposed to pure attacking talent. The youthful Maple Leafs should worry Ottawa slightly, they will have the stamina to keep going in the off-season. Furthermore, lack of experience can also mean lack of fear having not been expected to reach such heights, they have nothing to lose.
It’s not all negatives, even with injuries Ottawa’s blue-line still looks more composed than the Leafs. The playoffs are about defending and Toronto struggle greatly in that area, Ottawa can punish them here and shutdown games. Freddie Andersen has been bright but he must be feeling this season, whereas Ottawa can juggle between two stars.
The Ottawa Senators claimed three of the four meetings this season, giving Freddie Andersen a torrid time. The Leafs netminder leaking 11 goals in three games a 3.58 GAA and worrying .887 save percentage.
Boston, however, may possess playoff experience and cup runs but they are a highly beatable team. The Sens have brushed them off this year facing two different coaches. Brad Marchand has been exceptional but his dodging of lengthy bans is all the more eye-opening. Boston are loaded with ageing players who may hold experience but will be carrying fatigue after an 82 game season.
Tukka Rask has not done a great job of stopping the Ottawa Senators scoring. A goals against average of 2.49 when facing the Sens and a lowly .902 save percentage. Conversely Craig Anderson played all four against Boston, boasting a .946 save percentage and a 1.47 GAA.
Not exactly blowing away the Boston Bruins in the four meetings they’ve still looked confident and should be confident about facing them a few more times.
It’ll be a night of scoreboard watching and excitement to see who the Ottawa Senators will face. It will most likely be Toronto but Columbus could turn up. Who do I want the Sens to face in the first round? Boston in all honesty, Ottawa have their number and could make it a quick series.
The Ottawa Senators shouldn’t worry about facing either team, in eight meetings they’ve lost just one against their divisional rivals. But lets face it playoff hockey is a different kettle of fish.