They sure know how to keep things interesting, don't they?
No less than three times this season have the Sens been written off as dead in the water. Jason Spezza goes down? Can't score, they're done. Erik Karlsson gets hurt? Now it's definitely over. Craig Anderson is out? Print the lottery balls.
Yet, here we are with three games to play and the Sens are among those in the running for the final two playoff spots, and in the driver's seat to get one of those spots no less.
The Sens could clinch a playoff spot on Thursday night with a win as 54 points would ensure Winnipeg couldn't catch them in the Eastern Conference. After that it would be a matter of where they travel to for round one.
Marc Methot has only had the chance to play postseason hockey once in his seven year NHL career, but the significance of the timing isn't lost on him or his teammates. Win and you're in.
"It's do or die time, it'll be a big game for us," said Methot on Thursday's game in Washington.
There is plenty of reason for optimism in Ottawa surrounding that matchup. The Sens played one of their best games of the season last Thursday and took a 3-1 victory at Scotiabank Place over the Capitals. That performance coupled with personnel making their way back into the fold give the team reason to believe they match up well against Washington. That being said, there are still things that can be improved.
"With Cowen back all three of our pairings can handle what Washington has," said Methot. "We need to be stronger at the offensive blueline. We've been turning the puck over too much."
The defensive strength added by Jared Cowen's return is certainly an encouraging sign and could improve even further come puck drop on Thursday. With rumblings that Erik Karlsson is in the running to return to the lineup in Washington, the Sens would be greatly bolstered in every phase of the game.
"He may be the best defenceman in the world," said Methot. "I hope he's out there if he's 100 per cent."
Regardless of whether or not the Sens will have 65 in the lineup, much of playoff hockey is hitting your stride at the right time. Knocking out a couple of crucial wins late in the year could go a long way if they put themselves in round one.
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