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Senators need help to miss the playoffs

Mar 18, 2010, 11:15 AM EDT

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The fact that there is a very real chance the Ottawa Senators could
miss the playoffs should surprise nobody, yet the fact that they most likely
will make it to the postseason should not be very surprising either.

See, the Senators play
in the Eastern Conference; home to two great teams, two pretty good team
and a bunch of middling and mediocre teams bringing up the rear. If the
Senators are going to collapse and fallout of a playoff spot, then
they’re going to need teams below them to actually play well enough to
overtake them as well, even if they do win just one out of five games
the rest of the season.

It doesn’t appear that’s going to happen
anytime soon.

The Senators are currently in 5th in the East, five
points ahead of 8th-place Boston and eight points up on the New York
Rangers in 9th. The Rangers and the Atlanta Thrashers — and perhaps the
Tampa Bay Lightning — represent teams that have to at least play their
way into a playoff spot to actually knock the Senators out.

Right
now, there’s a good chance that Ottawa can fall all the way out to 8th
place. But with the Rangers and Thrashers not exactly lighting the
hockey world on fire right now, they’ll most likely stay in the playoffs
based solely on the incredibly poor play of the other teams in the
conference.

The Rangers do face Boston on Sunday (on NBC!) and
could make a four-point swing in the standings with a win. Yet Boston is
three points up and could build more of a lead tonight against
Pittsburgh.

The Senators are 5th in the East; with 79 points,
they’d be out of the playoffs in the Western Conference.

It may
not matter much anyways. Even if the Senators do hold on after falling
to 8th, they’ll face Washington in the first round. That playoff series
won’t last very long.

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