Ottawa Senators – Rise of the RABHA? (Pt. 4)

Matt McKechnie January 16, 2014 18
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For the viewers at home, you may notice that my ‘Rise of the RABHA?’ feature series does, in fact, have a question mark at the end of it.

That’s because even though the Sens are 7-1-1 in their last nine games, including a road 3-0 shutout by the Lehner against the ailing Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, they are still not out of the woods.

And aside from the obvious about the Minnesota Wild, blah, blah, blah (*insert some lame, inane joke about Dany Heatley to appease a small demographic of emotionally stunted Sens fans*), blah, blah, blah, the Sens played well and came out with another definitive two points.

And even though every TSN commentator and Ottawa fan seemed to be raging on twitter, about the boredom they experienced during this game, I was quite happy to watch my team win. In fact, I took solace in the Sens two point-grab, stuck my tongue out at my computer screen, yelled ‘what do you WANT?’ to an empty room, and emptied a half-finished jug of bottom-shelf red wine into my ‘gutti-works’.

Unfortunately, the best RABHA team-playing and skating of the season has happened at a time when EVERY other team who is competing for a wildcard spot in the East is playing the same way.

For further portrayal of this deadlock, here’s a look at the current tough-luck standings with the help of a highly expensive graphic:

WILD CARD DIV GP W L OT P ROW GF GA DIFF HOME AWAY S/O L10 STREAK
1  TORONTO A 49 24 20 5 53 15 136 149 -13 16-10-1 8-10-4 9-4 6-4-0 WON 3
2  NY RANGERS M 48 24 21 3 51 21 119 126 -7 10-11-3 14-10-0 3-2 6-3-1 LOST 1
———————————————————————————————————————————-
3  DETROIT A 46 20 16 10 50 19 118 127 -9 6-10-7 14-6-3 1-7 5-4-1 LOST 1
4  OTTAWA A 47 21 18 8 50 19 134 146 -12 11-10-4 10-8-4 2-5 7-1-2 WON 2
5  NEW JERSEY M 48 20 18 10 50 20 112 118 -6 10-6-6 10-12-4 0-7 5-2-3 WON 1
6  COLUMBUS M 46 22 20 4 48 19 129 131 -2 11-9-2 11-11-2 3-1 7-3-0 WON 4
7  CAROLINA M 46 19 18 9 47 18 111 130 -19 10-9-5 9-9-4 1-3 5-4-1 LOST 2
8  FLORIDA A 46 18 21 7 43 12 109 141 -32 10-9-4 8-12-3 6-5 4-4-2 WON 1
9  NY ISLANDERS M 48 18 23 7 43 14 132 156 -24 7-9-7 11-14-0 4-3 7-3-0 LOST 1
10  BUFFALO A 46 13 27 6 32 7 83 129 -46 9-13-3 4-14-3 6-3 4-3-3 OT 1

 

Ottawa’s playoff hopes are far from actualized (especially with a few flukey wins by the Leafs that somehow magically vaulted them three points ahead of the Sens and Wings), and now, the hard road of reality sets in; the question is even though they have been red-hot in January, can they keep themselves in the fight until the end of the season?

With a record of 21-18-8, the RABHA are the farthest above 500 that they have been all season long. Both the Alien and the Lehner have finally been playing like the goalie duo we had all hoped they could be. In fact, during this hot streak that started in the Penguins game on December 28, both Andy and Lehner have had one shutout a piece.

On top of that, Ottawa’s PP and PK have been clicking and thriving due to one simple fact; the Sens are staying out of the sin bin.

Even though Bobby Ryan is on a bit of a twine-slump, others are picking up the slack. MacArthur, Turris and yes folks –  even Erik-UP-UP-DOWN-DOWN-LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT-B-A-B-A-START-Condra have all been putting points on the board.

(You have NO idea how long I’ve been waiting to use that Erik Condra nickname. Full points to any gaming nerd who gets the reference.)

They are skating hard off the puck drop and establishing a forecheck that is pestering teams.

After taking five of six potential points on a Western road trip, the RABHA need to keep rollin’ and to take their momentum straight into the pre-olympic stretch of the season.

With the over-performance of many other mediocre teams around them, the Sens need to keep playing smart and hard.

Let’s hope the RABHA continue their rise to playoff contention tonight in Ottawa, as they take on their conference rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, at 7:30 EST.

In fact, for a special F4S exclusive, I’ll be there tonight, live-tweeting (and live-drinking) from the 300 level of the Canadian Tire Centre. Watch for me on Twitter at @therealmattshow using the hashtags of #F4S (Fighting For Stanley), #RABHA (Red And Black Heart Attack) and #KEEPTHE14DOLLARBEERSFLOWIN (self-explanatory).