Terry Lee/Icon SMI)
A year after the Senators finished 13th in the Eastern Conference, they’ve secured a playoff spot for the upcoming 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They punched their ticket to the post-season with a convincing 5-1 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday. The club currently sits in the seventh seed in the East with 92 points.
"We’re going in the right direction, coming together at the right time and playing hard as a team," defenseman Chris Phillips told Senators.com postgame on Sunday. "We had a lot to prove this year and we’ve done well with that so far. Now we look to the playoffs."
In a year where most predicted the Senators to be on the outside looking in at a playoff position, the club can look to a variety of factors that have made them playoff bound in 2012. One of those factors can be attributed to the experience that some of the young Senators gained as members of 2010-11 Calder Cup Champion Binghamton Senators in the AHL.
"The experience factor, that helps us," Colin Greening told Senators.com on Thursday. "You go through a hard-fought four series like we did last year in the playoffs, it has to carry over. You have that in the back of your mind, that you’ve dealt with that situation before and got through it and were able to come out on top.”
Where most teams look to add seasoned veteran depth for the playoff drive – players who have been playoff battle tested, the Senators can look in-house at a number of players who were a part of that Calder Cup championship. Bobby Butler, Erik Condra, Jared Cowen, Kaspars Daugavins, Colin Greening, Jim O’Brien and Zack Smith were all members of the Binghamton squad last season that are playing a range of roles with the Senators this season.
"That’s the difference in our team," Murray told Senators.com. "When we talked about expectations at the start of the year … a lot of these guys have lived it. They’ve gone through it, they know the pressure, they handled it and they rebounded in a couple of cases from real tough situations where they may not have made the playoffs or could have lost early in the first round. And they found a way to do otherwise.”
The Senators have three games remaining on the schedule. Starting Tuesday, they have two games at home against the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. Then they’ll wrap-up the regular season up with a trip to New Jersey to face the Devils on April 7th.
Northeast Division Notes
Boston Bruins – The Bruins secured the Northeast division title this weekend with a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Sunday. The club also came away with a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg returned to action after missing two games with a knee infection. Gregory Campbell sat out Sunday’s game with a minor foot injury. Adam McQuaid remains sidelined with an injured eye.
Buffalo Sabres – Dropping both games on the weekend, the Sabres sit two points out of a playoff spot. The Sabres opened the weekend with a 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday, followed up by a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tyler Myers missed Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with a foot injury. The Sabres recalled Brayden McNabb and T.J. Brennan from Rochester (AHL).
Montreal Canadiens – The Canadiens came out on the losing end in both games this weekend. They lost 4-1 to the New York Rangers on Friday, and dropped a shootout loss, 3-2 ,on Saturday to the Washington Capitals. Forward Petteri Nokelainen suffered an upper body injury in Saturday’s contest against the Capitals.
Ottawa Senators – Both Jason Spezza and captain Daniel Alfredsson were absent from Sunday’s game. Spezza was unavailable due to the birth of his daughter, while Alfredsson was sick with the flu. The Senators won in a shootout on Saturday over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Ben Scrivens came away with 4-3 win on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres. He turned aside 29 shots in the victory. It was the Maple Leafs first victory at home in 11 games. Forward Mikhail Grabovski could miss the remaining three games with a laceration to his leg suffered in Saturday’s win.