Ottawa Senators: Making Mountains Out Of Molehills

Gerald NortonFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2010

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his overtime winning goal with teamates against Henrik Lundqvist  of the New York Rangers during their game on October 15, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Four games into the regular season and already the Senators find themselves out of the post season.  Or at least that would be the case if an NHL regular season was the same length as an NFL regular season, fortunately, it's not.

The reality is, despite the Senators bumbling 1-2-1 start, they find themselves in a pack of teams they also hope to be in come the end of the regular season.  For the most part, the teams tagged as legitimate post season contenders, have gotten off to poor starts, while many of those not expected to see post season play have leapt out of the gate.

This leaves only two possibilities; The pundits got it all wrong or, statistically, three, four or five games is not a large enough sample size from which to alter any long term projections.

To look at the Eastern Conference standings as of today, the playoff picture has first place Toronto facing off against the Islanders, Lighting vs Thrashers, Philly facing Carolina and Alexander Ovechkin's fourth place Caps squaring off with fifth place Montreal.

Outside looking in are the Pens, Rangers, Sens, Sabres, Devils, Boston and last place Florida.

Yeah right!

Time for a little perspective for all those gloating about their previously derided teams current standing, or those weeping over their previously lauded teams poor performances.

The Hawks started their Cup winning season 2-2.

Pens started their Cup winning season 4-4.

Detroit started their last Cup winning season 2-2.

So much for the first few games predicting the season.  The fact is, statistically, it requires 20 games before you have a sufficiently reliable sample size to re-adjust your preseason predictions.  Making too much, or too little of small sample sizes is all well and good for establishing bragging rights, but only a fool would count on it to last, one way or the other.

Yes the Sens, along with numerous other teams tagged as post season contenders, have gotten of to a rocky start, but this is nothing new in the world of pro hockey. 

In fact, it may well be that a poor start can help a team focus on what needs to be done to win, not on the glowing preseason reports surrounding their impending play.

No doubt the Sens will continue to struggle as, like the slow start, one win does not make a definitive change, but I for one will not let my acute frustration temper my chronic optimism.