The Ottawa Senators reached the playoffs as the seventh seed in the eastern conference last year but failed to advance past the first round. They were down 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round and avoided a sweep by winning the next two games to make the series interesting again, before being shut out and falling in game six. They just could not seem to get over the hump against Montreal as they lost many close calls throughout the series.
The Ottawa Senators schedule puts them in a rematch with the Canadiens in just the third game of the season. Montreal won three of the four games by just one goal and Ottawa could use this early season victory as a confidence booster. Towards the end of October the Senators have their first challenging three game stretch, as they face the Detroit Red Wings twice in a row before meeting up with Montreal again. The Red Wings were the team battling for playoff positioning with Ottawa last year and they finished just one point ahead in the sixth seed. After a short break from tough competition the Senator’s schedule gets very difficult for a seven game stretch. This stretch includes games against both New York teams, Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Montreal. This is a nightmare of a stretch and is as difficult as any team in the NHL will have to endure in the middle of the season. Ottawa must escape this stretch with a few victories to avoid falling out of playoff positioning before the second half of the season.
Graphic via gettyimages
The beginning of March will allow Ottawa to breathe a little as they go through a 7 or 8 game stretch against non-playoff teams from a year ago. It will be a much needed break that is quickly followed by another daunting four game stretch. Overall, the Ottawa Senators schedule has to be one of the toughest for the 2015-2016 schedule. They have some brutal stretches and hardly any breaks from the tougher competition. They were a borderline playoff team in 2014 and will have to fight hard to get back into the playoffs this upcoming year. Luckily for them, their last handful of games to end the regular season is one of the easiest portions of their schedule. If they are on the brink entering the last two weeks of the regular season, finally their schedule will play into their favor. The Senators will be looking to take the next step in the 2015-2016 season by advancing in the playoffs, but their schedule may make it difficult to earn a good enough record to avoid the top teams in the conference in the first round.
Graphic via senators