Why the Senators can win the Atlantic

31-20-6.

If you were taking predictions from early in the season as to each team’s record, this record for the Senators would have most likely been an optimistic prediction. However, despite this fairly impressive record, it would never be associated with a team leading the Atlantic division going into late March. Right?

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Dion Phaneuf, on pace for 13 goals this season, hits Leafs player Nazem Kadri in 6-3 win Saturday. Photo Credit: Micheal Peake, Toronto Sun

Yet here we are. As the Senators sit just 2 points back, and with 2 games in hand on Montreal, the Sens have been the best team in the Atlantic this year, and look poised to take that first overall spot from Montreal who has been struggling posting a 1-6-2 record so far in the month of February.

However nothing comes that easily, and as the Atlantic appears to be the division of meritocracy out East, with that comes a pack of teams hovering around the .500 win-to-loss plateau looming just behind the Sens. As Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and Florida seek to catch up to the pack, all boasting at least 12 points in their last 10 games, and with a refueled Boston headed by Bruce Cassidy, and the Maple Leafs nipping at the Sens heels, the team must pull out of neutral and charge past Montreal instead of simply letting them fall behind.

Despite posting only a 5-5-0 record in the last 10, the Senators have played marvelous hockey behind Guy Boucher, and his shut down, defense first system, and had equaled or out shot their opponents in all 5 losses. The Sens have been getting fantastic offence all around the locker room from Mark Stone, Zack Smith, and many others up front, to Erik Karlsson and Dion Phaneuf on the back end. This all revolves around one of the best goalie duos in the NHL this season with Condon and Anderson seemingly capable of showing up every night.

Mark Stone lays on the ice after being hit in the head by Jets Jacob Trouba. Photo Credit: Andre Ringuette, NHLI

Nothing is ever perfect, however, as the injury bug caught the team hard last night putting Stone, Hoffman, and Wingels out day-to-day and Ryan back on the IR with his seemingly forever injured finger injury for another 3-6 weeks.

As the Sens look to battle through the toughest month and a half left in the season on their bodies, they have to look no further than their play on the ice as motivation that the top of the Atlantic is theirs for the taking.

 

Feature Photo Credit: Mark Blinch, NHLI

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