A Sobering Thought From Elliotte Friedman

In his latest 30 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman had only one that touched on the Ottawa Senators.

But, boy was it a doozy: 

30. Here are the eight NHL teams to watch for my Nov. 1 stat, ie. if you're four points out of the playoffs after games on that date, you are in a brutal spot to make it. The teams: Dallas Stars, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia and Winnipeg (five points back), Calgary (7), Florida (8), Buffalo and Edmonton (11). Some of you think the new format will change things. We'll all find out together.

The Nov. 1 stat being, "from 2005-06 through 2011-12, just three of 32 teams who were four points out of a playoff position on November 1 recovered to make it."
 
And the reason why so few teams make up ground over the remainder of the season? Friedman blames the 'loser point'. 

"It is amazing to see how the "loser point" has changed the NHL game. The last season before its introduction was 1998-99. Back then, you got two points for a win, one for a tie and nothing if you lost in overtime. There was no shootout. 

That year, the two worst teams in the NHL as we threw out our Halloween costumes were the Colorado Avalanche (2-6-1) and San Jose Sharks (1-6-2). They were four and five points out of the playoffs, respectively. The Avalanche were a powerhouse and recovered to finish second in the Western Conference and reach the conference final. Their first-round opponent? The Sharks.

That simply does not happen anymore. Since the shootout entered the NHL, we've never had a season in which two teams came from that far back to make it. And only one of the three comeback kings was more than four points out. That was Calgary. The Flames were seven points out in 2006-07, then went 40-22-9 to make it. The other survivors were the Buffalo Sabres (2010-11) and Boston Bruins (2011-12). The Sabres went 40-22-8; the Bruins, 45-22-4."

So where did the Ottawa Senators rank after games played on November 1st? 

Five points back.

As concerning as it is to hear that teams have historically had difficulty overcoming this hurdle, anyone who writes the Senators' season off now should be publicly outed and mocked as a moron. While a difficult schedule and a sluggish transition back into the lineup for many of this team's injured core players have put the Sens in a tough spot, there have been enough positive things happening to believe that the Sens can get back on track.

What looks to be a hisorically weak Eastern Conference doesn't hurt either, Habs holding down the last spot today and are on pace for 87 points. Say it takes 90 points to make the playoffs this year, Sens would need to go 34-25-8 over their final 67 games. That is nearly the exact same pace they played at over their final 67 in 2011/12, when they went 34-24-9.

Erik Karlsson is starting to look more and more each game like he is back to where he was pre-injury. The Kyle Turris line has been exceptional. Robin Lehner has looked every bit like the goaltending phenom that many prognosticators projected. And Mika Zibanejad is now getting a chance to flank Jason Spezza. 

Sure, it'd be nice if the Sens still had their first overall pick in the event that they do not make the dance, but even if they don't make the playoffs, you can rest assured that management will be looking to trim the fat. 

And if there's anything that we've learned from this collection of players, there's certainly some fat that can afford to be trimmed.

 

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