Tight playoff race as Senators brace for the road

The Ottawa Senators went into Monday’s game in a three-way tie with the New Jersey Devils and the Winnipeg Jets, each with 43 points.
The Devils held the No. 6 playoff spot, the Jets held the seventh, and the Senators held the eighth. Right behind them were the Washington Capitals with 42 points and the Toronto Maple Leafs with 41.
It’s a telling indication of how tough the playoff race is going to be over the second half.
Last season, it took 93 points for the New York Rangers to get the No. 8 playoff spot. The Carolina Hurricanes missed with 91. The Maple Leafs were a further six points behind at 85.
So, with last season is a measuring stick, the Senators will need to earn at least 50 points in their next 43 games (including Monday’s) to squeak into the playoffs. That’s 1.16 points per game.
It’s possible, of course, but it’s not going to help that they have what might be the toughest part of their season beginning on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
That will start a stretch that will see them play 10 of their next 12 games on the road, including a punishing trip that will begin in Toronto, head out to the western United States, and finish with back-to-back games in Los Angeles and Phoenix.
Daniel Alfredsson said the biggest difference in the team this season is that the attitude in the dressing room is positive. It was sour last season, for a lot of reasons, and it sapped everyone’s energy.
So far the Senators have been one of the league’s more pleasant surprises, but this month is going to test the team’s rediscovered character.
“I think from the first day we’ve thought that if we work together we have a chance to achieve some things maybe a lot of people don’t think we can,” said Alfredsson.
“I think that’s been in our heads all along, and we’re just trying to push ourselves to get better.
“We know it’s going to get harder and harder. Obviously we’re really satisfied where we are right now, but we know it’s a long way to go, and probably the next four weeks is going to determine a lot of how we’re going to end up.”
He’s right. It could be a turning point, and if they survive, you’d have to say the odds, if not good, will certainly be better.

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