Against all odds, the Ottawa Senators have officially clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
At the start of this lockout shortened season, 30 teams had a shot at the Stanley Cup. When the regular season wraps up on Sunday night in Boston, that field will have been trimmed to just 16 teams. Every team has a shot at hoisting that Cup a couple months from now. It’s the best time of the year and it all gets started just four days from now.
In a season with more than their fair share of adversity, and in the face of a seemingly endless supply of "season ending" twists and turns, the Ottawa Senators are headed to the NHL playoffs.
Sergei Gonchar scored the winner and Erik Karlsson turned in a heroic effort playing his first game in more than 10 weeks as the Sens edged the Washington Capitals by a 2-1 final. The win moves Ottawa into 6th in the Eastern Conference, which would mean a playoff rematch with these same Capitals.
Win and you’re in. It’s that simple for the Ottawa Senators tonight as they visit the Washington Capital.
In fact, any combination of two points, either gained by the Sens or loss by the Jets, means Ottawa locks up their spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. And as much as fans will be keeping a keen on the happenings in Winnipeg, the players will be focused on earning their way in, with a win over the recently crowned Southeast Champs. Oh and by the way, they’ll have their best player back in the line up.
The Washington Capital did the Senators a huge favour on Tuesday night. The Sens will be hoping to face an equally cooperative Capitals squad tomorrow night in DC.
With a win over the Ovechkin and the Caps, the Senators would clinch a berth in the playoffs. In fact, things are pretty simple for the Sens now- a win in their last three games and they officially punch their ticket to the dance. And it looks like they may have a familiar face in the line up for Thursday’s game.
Ottawa Senators defenceman Andre Benoit will be named the team’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an annual award voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Each team nominates one player to be considered for the award.
As the saying goes, the Ottawa Senators have made their bed, and now they have to lay in it.
Ottawa had a chance to all but lock up a playoff spot on Monday night but instead came up short against Tomas Vokoun and the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 3-1 final. To make things worse, the 9th place Winnipeg Jets picked up another two points and have all but erased the Sens playoff cushion in the Eastern Conference.
There are just four games remaining in the regular season and for the Ottawa Senators, the playoffs remain very much in doubt.
And while the Senators do control their own fate over the next week, they’ll need to pick up a couple wins to assure themselves an invite when the playoffs start in just over a week from now. It starts tonight with a match up against the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With just five games left in the regular season, the Ottawa Senators get a visit from their provincial rivals, The Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Senators come into this one having won four straight while the Leafs have lost back to back games. Toronto needs just one more win to assure themselves a spot in the playoffs in a couple weeks but have also seen their lead over the Senators dwindle to just a single point. Should be another wild game at Scotiabank Place.
(UPDATE 1:01 PM)- Erik Karlsson stayed out for the entire Sens practice and by all accounts, looked damn good. Sens GM Bryan Murray indicated that Karlsson is 100% and the biggest issue now is getting into "game shape". Karlsson was a little more subdued in his assessment, saying he still has some work to do and will continue to skate until he feels ready to return. No matter how you look at it, this is an incredible development for the Ottawa Senators.
Players and coaches always talk about how important it is to be at the top of your game down the stretch and heading into the playoffs.
The Ottawa Senators seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. Kyle Turris scored twice, Cory Conacher had the game winner and Craig Anderson made big saves at key times as the Sens rolled to a 3-1 win over a Washington Capitals team that had won eight straight.