2017-18 NHL Preview: Ottawa Senators face uphill battle for playoff spot

The Ottawa Senators enjoyed an incredible 2016-17 season, finishing just one goal shy of upsetting the Pittsburgh Penguins to earn a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. But unfortunately for Ottawa fans, a lot has changed during the offseason.

The Senators are likely going to be in a dog fight for a playoff spot in 2017-18. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning are expected to be the powerhouses of the Atlantic Division, and the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers will represent tough competition as well.

Making matters worse, Senators captain Eric Karlsson has yet to start skating after having an artificial tendon inserted in his foot, and there’s no timetable for his return. HIs absence leaves a glaring hole in Ottawa’s defensive corps, and he’s not even the only notable absentee. The Senators lost Marc Methot to the expansion draft shortly after the 2016-17 season.

The Senators may be long shots to qualify for the postseason, but then again, this team tends shine when its back is against the wall.