A couple of weeks/months ago a potential Pittsburgh/Ottawa first round meeting would seem like a repeat of their 4/5 matchup from last season. However the Sens have fallen and fallen hard from a team that started the season on 15-2 note and aren’t even assured a playoff berth going into the final weekend.
This means if they do make it in, they could very well be the #7 or even a #8 seed and a potential opponent for the Pens who will either be the #1 or #2 seed. This would probably not be the ideal matchup for the Penguins, considering Ottawa’s performance against them. Ottawa was mired in a 3-7-3 slump a couple months ago but two of those wins were over the Pens. In the four regular season matchups the Senators averaged 4.5 goals per game against Pittsburgh. Surely they remember last season’s playoff outcome and have noted that Ottawa post-season krytonite Gary Roberts isn't going to be in full form.
Even with Ottawa in free-fall desperation mode, if they win an early game or two their experience will kick in and some of the self doubts will settle (as it did when the regrouped themselves in the first round last year and went all the way to the Cup finals). It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Here at TST we’re hoping not to see Ottawa in the first round because they matchup and challenge the Pens better than any other likely first round opponent would. Ottawa finishes up their season tonight, in an extremely important game against Boston—a team that’s clawing to stay in the top 8 themselves.
Ottawa right now is in 6th place with 94 points, but if they were to lose this game Boston would jump them and Washington would too if Alex and the boys beat the Panthers. Further if the Flyers were to win their last two games, Dany Heatley can hit the road a little early this off-season, the Sens are going home. There are a lot of scenarios that could work themselves out and like we said it will be quite interesting watching it unravel.
Being in first place with a playoff positioned secured, it’s just a lot nicer watching the gladiators slug it out from the emperor’s chair then it is to actually be down in the pit.