Weird times in Sens-land. Our spirits are crushed one night, and the next night we get these little sprigs of hope pushing up through the concrete.
At first it was that video of Jared Cowen practicing and throwing his weight around in the process. (Note to Cowen: maybe don’t nail one of our most consistent two-way players in practice, ok?) Could we see him return sooner rather than later? Then there was today’s video of Erik Karlsson skating oh-so smoothly around. Robot ankles from Sweden? He won’t be back, we know, but maybe…HE’LL BE BACK?
(No, he wont…unless he will be.)
Spezza was last seen lifting groceries into the back of his Honda Element in a FoodBasics parking lot, causing everyone to scream in protest. What’s Turris going on now, eight games without a goal?
But anyways, is the season dropping out from under us or what? Despite losing four in a row, including games against the Buffalo Fucking Sabres and Florida Fucking Panthers, Sportsclubstats (daily viewing this time of year) has Ottawa’s post-season chances only dipping 3.2% to 94%. Not quite the absolute certainty of the 98%+ chances we’ve been enjoying lately, but all the same: if the ship isn’t turned around soon we’re going to start seeing those scary 10% drops in probability happening really, really soon.
Tampa is up next, and they’re no pushover. They’ll have a motivated goalie, all of their leading scorers, plenty of grit, and their defense…well, their defense sucks, but so does the Florida Fucking Panthers’ and they just beat us.
There’s only ten games left in the Senators’ season, and they need to get at least 9 out of a possible 20 points before their chances of making the playoffs drop from the mid-90% range into the 80% range.
In that span they play, in order: Tampa, Philly, New Jersey, Boston, Carolina, Washington, the Leafs, Pens, Washington again, and Philly again. Five games at home, five on the road.
First of all: thank Christ they only play Boston once. That will be a loss. They play the Leafs on a Saturday night at home, so you know that will be a loss too. Everyone else, including the Pens if they still don’t have Crosby, are beatable, but now all bets are off. Throwing away points against the Buffalos and Panthers of the world means the team has to beat decent spoilers like Tampa, Washington, or Philly. If you figure the team loses at least a couple of those games on the road (where Ottawa stinks), it means having to take at least the home games against the Caps and Flyers.
Ottawa can do it. They’ve done it against all odds this season. But the road to the end of the season is going to be a bumpy one.
A good start might be Anderson shaking off the rust (welcome back Andy now RETURN TO VEZINA FORM IMMEDIATELY); Lehner getting angry again even though he doesn’t have to play third fiddle to Bishop (“paging Lehner’s father issues” [Alfredsson's father issues might do in a pinch]); Turris waking up Home Alone style to find the team left on the road trip without him and then catching up with them in Tampa; finding the ghost of Zach Smith’s scoring touch; and finally, we could stop playing Peter Regin and Matt Kassian under any circumstances whatsoever.
Or, in a happy reversal of fortune…maybe all of the above? If not, we might find ourselves clinging to an improbable Karlsson return to save our season. I’ve been through this with Hasek; I’d prefer if the team just stopped losing completely winnable games.