Updated Dec. 3
As major winter storms kick in up north these days, the Ottawa Senators are feeling the heat from Eastern Conference foes for the first time this season.
|Shean Donovan and the Senators have lost their fat cushion in the standings. (US Presswire)|
There are some serious expectations in Ottawa this season after last June's disappointing trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Especially after Ottawa looked nearly invincible with a 13-1 start that had local media wondering out loud if the Senators were the all-time greatest team.
No one is saying that now because the Senators have come back to earth with this slump, although the big picture is that it has only allowed everyone else in the East to reduce the space Ottawa had created. Ottawa was running away with the conference title and had a 16-3 record when the slide began, but the past couple of weeks have seen hot streaks by the Rangers and Devils, who are suddenly in striking distance of first place in the East. So are the Carolina Hurricanes, despite their uneven play to end November.
Ottawa's only real Northeast Division rival so far this season has been Montreal. The Canadiens have been heading south recently, but at the same time, the Buffalo Sabres' game has looked very good in the past few weeks and they are a talented team with plenty of time to make up for their weak start.
All of a sudden, there is a real race for the Eastern crown.
Here are this week's rankings: