Ottawa Senators: Why are the Sens Always Underrated

OTTAWA, ON - MAY 23: An Ottawa Senators fan cheers after the Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins with a score of 2 to 1 in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 23, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - MAY 23: An Ottawa Senators fan cheers after the Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins with a score of 2 to 1 in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 23, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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Every season it seems as if the Ottawa Senators are underrated. Rarely projected to make the playoffs, the pattern continues even after a phenomenal run last season.

It’s an odd thing that one team seems to be picked as the perennial underdog and overachiever. It doesn’t make sense that all major media outlets just have a bias against the Ottawa Senators. Certainly there could be a few individuals that could be biased, but the entire media, that seems unlikely. Still the Sens have low expectations every season. This underrating of the Sens even continued deep into their playoff run. So what is it that causes the pundits to doubt the Sens?

Previous Playoff Runs

Let’s take a look at the Sens’ last three playoff runs, 2013, 2015, and 2017. Noticeably, none of these appearances were followed up with a return to the playoffs. Going back to 2013 is when the Ottawa Senators became the Pesky Sens. A team fresh off a game seven first round exit to the New York Rangers in 2012, the Sens entered 2013 with expectations to improve. However, the team was decimated by injuries. Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, and Craig Anderson all missed significant time in the regular season.

With the loss of the majority of their best players the Sens were expected to miss the playoffs, but against all odds battled their way into the seventh seed. They then dispatched of the Montreal Canadiens in five games as their stars returned to the lineup before being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in round two. After achieving a good amount of success in 2013 with an injury depleted roster they had high expectations going into 2014. Many predicted the Sens to finish atop the conference. However, the team faltered and missed the playoffs.

The team was expected to do poorly in 2015 and they played to their expectations for a good portion of the season. It wasn’t until the famous Hamburglar run that the Senators looked like a true contender and squeaked into the playoffs. They were a difficult team to project going into 2016 as they were so bad for half the season, and then so good for the second half. Ultimately they would miss the playoffs before returning in 2017.

Next: Ottawa Senators: Looking Forward to a Full Season with Clarke MacArthur

A History of Inconsistency

The Ottawa Senators have a history of performing when there are low expectations as is evident in their previous three runs to the playoffs. The low expectations partially come from a history of inconsistency. The team simply have not proven that they can keep at a high level for more than one season. As for this upcoming season, they were the only team that made the playoffs to have a negative goal differential. That’s an immediate red flag for many as they look to next season. However, a full season with MacArthur, Burrows, and Thompson should help the Sens improve offensively.

Final Thoughts

While certain pundits could have a bias against the Sens it’s unlikely that the whole media shares this bias. The doubt for the Sens comes from a history of inconsistency. Failing to make the playoffs in back to back seasons since 2012 and 2013, the Sens have something to prove in 2018.