Updated Jan. 25
It wasn't that long ago -- only a couple of weeks actually -- that the Ottawa Senators looked like a team destined to miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
|Returned from injury, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza have been part of the solution. (Getty Images)|
Fast forward to today and you'll find that the Senators are one of the hottest teams in the league. They've won six games in a row, entrenched themselves solidly in the middle of the playoff pack and are arguably playing their best hockey since reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 for the first time in franchise history.
The return of injured key players like captain Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek and some inspired play by Alex Kovalev have obviously helped the Senators, who have turned goaltending, special teams and scoring depth from weaknesses to strengths in what seems like an instant. Overall, Ottawa has gone from being outscored 22-5 during the losing skid to outscoring opponents 23-7 during this current run.
"We have a few extra players that we didn't have before and that makes a difference," coach Cory Clouston said. "It's a lot more difficult to check against us right now. You can't shut down one line and close us off."
Alfredsson, in particular, has been on fire with five goals and nine points, a remarkable return considering the team's franchise player was mired in a 13-game goal scoring drought before injuring his shoulder in mid-December. But Ottawa has been getting some very solid work in goal as well from backup Brian Elliot and call-up Mike Brodeur and is creeping up toward a fourth seed that would let the team start the playoffs round at home, where it has been very good this season.
"We're feeling pretty good right now," Alfredsson said.
They should. Here are the rankings through Sunday night's games: