|Senators Stand Good Chance of Making Playoffs|
|Despite their disappointing campaign last time around, it is clear that the Ottawa Senators have all the necessary ingredients required to be a serious Playoff contender. Led by Norris Trophy nominee Erik Karlsson, the Senators are looking to put last season's failures well and truly behind them, and Guy Boucher's team simply cannot be overlooked. Currently second place in the Atlantic Division standings, behind only the Montreal Canadiens, and having won back-to-back games following their recent success over New York Islanders, it is perhaps unsurprising that many are now backing the Senators. However, having last made the Playoffs back in the 2014-15 season, just what is it the Ottawa need to do in order to cement their place this time around?
Swede Karlsson has undoubtedly played a major role in the Senators success, with both his statistics and leadership helping to propel the team to the top of the standings. The defenseman recently tallied three points against the San Jose Sharks to pass Wade Redden for the most in franchise history for defensemen, meaning he now owns 415 points in his career. The Senators are the third highest scorers in the Atlantic Division, and with statistics showing that teams in the eastern conference will need to score an average of 3.02 goals per game in order to reach the Stanley Cup Final, this is something that they cannot let slip.
Karlsson now ranks within the top 15 in terms of points this season, the only defenseman on the list, but the Senators now require their offense to remain in rich form, as well as Craig Anderson to continue being a top-tier goaltender. Ottawa's forwards have undoubtedly been in excellent form of late, with their surge in goals mainly down to four or five players. Hoffman has six goals and as many assists in his last eight games, and this simply must continue in order for Ottawa's chances of success to grow. Teams in the Eastern Conference must have an average of 30.7 shots per game in order to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, with contributions from Karlsson and Hoffman, as well as the likes of Mark Stone and Kyle Turris crucial.
With the All-Star break now fast approaching, second place in the standings is by no means assured. However, Ottawa possess all of the weapons to get it done, and then push their play to the next level in order to reach new heights and perhaps be more than just a wild-card team in the Eastern Conference. Having led Swiss hockey team SC Bern to the title in 2014-15 before eventually being fired, Boucher's role in the Senators performances this season cannot be underestimated, with some even predicting that the team will leapfrog the Canadiens at the top of the division.