Do the Ottawa Senators have a chance at making the playoffs with their late-season rally? Most fans and analysts are saying that while it remains a mathematical possibility, it is just not going to happen.
Here are a few reasons why it just might happen. Despite what you may be hearing on radio and television broadcasts, the Senators don't have to win all 10 remaining games. They don't have to be perfect, just close to perfect from here on in.
Ottawa needs to chase down Montreal and Florida, currently sitting in eighth and ninth place respectively. The assumption is that if they can do so, they will also overtake the 10th place Buffalo Sabres in the process. Here is how it could happen.
As a starting point, it is certain that the Senators must win their one remaining game with both Montreal and Florida. If they lose either of those games, the chase is over.
Ottawa clearly needs help from both the Canadiens and Panthers. Recently, both teams have been quite accommodating, particularly Montreal.
If Montreal's final 10 games are equally abysmal to their last 10 (3-5-1-1) then the Habs would finish the season with 89 points. Keep in mind that this scenario sees the team improving on their current record under new coach Bob Gainey.
The team has won only once in six games since Gainey fired Guy Carbonneau and took over the coaching reins.
If Ottawa obtains 15 points in its final 10 games it would tie Montreal in the season standings. Ottawa'a 9-1 record in its last 10 shows that that is not an impossible task.
The Florida Panthers have played .500 hockey lately, going 4-4-0-2 in the last 10 games. If they continue at that pace, Florida would edge past Montreal with 90 points.
Ottawa would require 16 out of a possible 20 points to tie Florida. Not easy, but not preposterous either.
Clearly, the stars need to be in alignment for the Sens to reach the playoffs. They need to continue their sterling play, and have both Montreal and Florida continue to stumble. Ottawa plays Florida on Mar. 31, and the Canadiens on Apr. 6. Both are road games and both are winnable.
So, Senators fans, keep the faith! While it is still a long-shot, it is not "Mission Impossible" either. What would be better than having the Senators stay in the playoff hunt long enough for their season-ending game to have playoff implications?
That final game opponent: the Toronto Maple Leafs!