Make or Break Time in Ottawa

Playoffs. They are in reach for the Ottawa Senators, but are they really?

After a poor performance against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, you have to wonder if it is worth making a run.

Now I am not advocating tanking the rest of the season. First off, the integrity of the game and all. Fans here in Ottawa know about Sens officials making comments about tanking in an effort to secure a top draft pick. There are no worries here. Second, and more importantly, good luck getting any player or coach to consciously make the effort not to play at their best.

But a strong case can be made for taking a year to retool. And doing so comes at the expense of the Senators being in a spot where General Manager Bryan Murray has to make moves in an attempt to bring in reinforcements.

At last year’s trade deadline, the Senators shipped out two second round draft picks to acquire Matt Cullen and Andy Sutton. Both played a role in helping the team as they filled in for the injured Alex Kovalev and Filip Kuba. Of course the Sens made the playoffs and finished fifth in the East, but how much they helped in getting them to the postseason is debatable. ┬áHad Murray not made those moves, they would have had the 46th and 58th picks in the Draft — two pieces of the puzzle added to the retool.

And that doesn’t factor in a potential trade of then UFA Anton Volchenkov, who signed last summer in New Jersey. Word is the Senators could have recieved a prospect and a pick could had Murray and company decided to move him at last year’s trade deadline.

And now the Sens might be paying for that lost opportunity

The Senators will need to string together a bunch of points in the next few weeks. Problem is all the teams below them in the standings have played fewer games. And all but the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils are still in the hunt. So even if they are winning, teams can still pass them.

The news of Jason Spezza being out for six weeks with a right shoulder injury doesn’t help the situation. Chris Kelly and Peter Regin will step into his role as top line center. The Sens will basically have to tread water and attempt to resolve any issues from within.

Looks like the answers are about to come quick in 2011.

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