It’s early, but the Ottawa Senators are in danger of missing the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs

Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The Ottawa Senators have given up 50 or more shots in three games this season. If you’re wondering why they aren’t winning often, that stat begins to crack the surface of what’s wrong with head coach Paul MacLean’s club through 13 games of action.

In the short lockout season, the Sens finished 2nd in goals against. They are way off the pace to duplicate defensively after a month in 2013-14. With 43 goals allowed after 13 games they equal the New York Islanders with the 24th worst GA in the NHL.

The Sens possess the design of a solid hockey club. Jason Spezza slotted as first line centre is enough to make many teams jealous. 2012 Norris trophy winner, Erik Karlsson, leads a defence crops that is solid from 1 through 6. And, between the pipes, Craig Anderson is coming off a season with numbers rivalling some of the best in NHL history (although it was a short season).

I’ve referenced it several times already because it’s so relevant this week – Hockey Night in Canada‘s Elliott Friedman recently discovered a stat revealing a somewhat surprising truth about a team’s playoff chances if they sit more than 4 points out of the playoffs after the first month of the season. Only 3 NHL teams have battled back to make the playoffs after 4 or more out since 2005-06 when teams began receiving a single point for losing in the shootout. The Sens are 5 out after one month. Are they a rare exception to the rule? Or is this season over already? Read Friedman’s article here, courtesy of CBC

The Senators poor start is a surprise to some. Preseason rankings from reputable hockey sources labelled Ottawa one of the best teams in the East.

Sports Illustrated, for example, penned the Sens as the fifth best team in the East, behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. While SI may still be right about the Sens, and the Rangers for that matter, at this point, Ottawa have a lot to prove before they can challenge for a spot amongst the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Check out SI’s pre-season rankings here

The Sens are 5 points out of a wild card spot. With so many games remaining, 5 is a small number. However, it does not help their cause that they must chase some pretty good clubs in the standings. The Toronto Maple Leafs (20), Tampa Bay Lightning (18), Detroit Red Wings (18), Boston Bruins (16), and Montreal Canadiens (16), are strong opponents with significant point leads. At least one, if not more of the top five in the Atlantic will need to run into trouble if the Senators are to have a chance of catching up.

The Dallas Stars come to visit tomorrow for a matinee at the Canadian Tire Centre. It is already that time of year for Ottawa – every win counts now. A few more losses and they might fall way out, real fast.