Senators Going Downhill
By Patrick Hoffman
In the Eastern Conference, picking-up points on a consistent basis is an absolute must these days.
Both the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions are extremely tight, thus making the battle for the eight playoff spots both very exciting and challenging. With that said, there is one team that is struggling at an absolutely ridiculous rate and has pretty much knocked themselves out of the playoff hunt for this season.
That team is the Ottawa Senators. Not only is this club not picking-up points when they need to, but as of this writing (January 10, 2018) they are second to last in the Atlantic Division and are the third worst team in the league.
After getting to within an overtime goal in Game 7 in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, this team has regressed in a significant way. There are several reasons why this is the case this season.
For starters, their goaltending has been quite awful. After having a great year last season, starting netminder Craig Anderson has been abysmal.
In 31 games this year, Anderson is 11-13-5 with a 3.23 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. These numbers are extremely different from what he posted last year (25-11 with a 2.28 goals against average, a .926, and five shutouts) and because he's not playing well this year, this team is having a lot of trouble making up ground in their division and conference.
In terms of keeping the puck out of the net, Anderson and back-up Mike Condon have not been the only problem. The team's defense as a whole is also an issue.
As of this writing (January 10, 2018), the team is 27th in the league with 141 goals allowed in 41 games played. If you look at those numbers, that means that on a nightly basis, this team allows 3.44 goals against per game, which is awful and does not help your team win games.
Speaking of the team's defense, there has been a lot of talk regarding their best player, Erik Karlsson. Karlsson is due to become an unrestricted free agent 18 months, but no one is quote sure if the team will pay Karlsson the money he deserves or if they will instead trade him. This is something that has to be weighing on both him and the franchise, which is a problem.
Lastly, the three-way trade the team conducted with the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators has not panned out in the way that they hoped. Whily Kyle Turris has played extremely well with the Preds, Duchene has not played too well in Ottawa as he has 6 goals and 4 assists for 10 points.
Speaking of not producing, that can be said for the rest of the team's offense. The team is currently (as of January 10, 2018) 25th in the league in goals scored with 112 in 41 games, which means they are scoring just 2.73 goals per game, which certainly does not help considering how porous the team's defense and goaltending has been this season.
This team and this franchise is clearly not in a good spot right now. With the team playing poorly and the attendance becoming an issue, things are certainly looking down in Canada's capital.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.