The Senators Are Awful and So is Their Future
By Patrick Hoffman
When you are one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League after making the Eastern Conference Final the year before, there is definitely something wrong.
The team I am describing above is the Ottawa Senators. After making a miracle to run and coming up one overtime goal short in their loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the team faltered this year in a big way.
The Senators finished with the second worst record in the NHL, just five points ahead of the last place Buffalo Sabres. The team also finished three points behind the Arizona Coyotes, which is also quite awful.
In comparison, the team was obviously much better in 2016-17 as they simply could not have done any worse than this past season. Last year, the Senators finished with 98 points, just five points behind the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens.
So, one might wonder what the heck happened this season that caused this team to fail. For starters, the team's goaltending was all kinds of bad.
After playing extremely well last year in both the regular season and playoffs, starting goaltender Craig Anderson simply didn't have it this year. The 36-year-old posted career worst numbers this season in going 23-25-6 with a 3.32 goals against average, a .898 save percentage, and two shutouts.
While the blame should not solely be placed on Anderson, his play definitely hurt the team this year. He allowed many soft goals, rarely looked like the Anderson we know between the pipes, and simply did not make the big save when his team needed one the most.
Back-up masked man Mike Condon was also quite bad this year. He went 5-17-5 with a 3.25 goals against average, and a .902 save percentage, which ended up putting more pressure on Anderson to play as many games as possible since Condon was clearly unreliable.
The team in front of Anderson and Condon did not help matters. As a whole, the Senators were the second worst team in terms of goals against this year (284 goals against) and average well over three goals against per game.
Game in and game out, the team's defense gave up prime scoring opportunities. They left men open in front, did not clear traffic or rebounds in front of the net, and they certainly did not get in the shooting lanes often enough to help whoever was between the pipes.
This team also struggled mightily on offense. They were the fifth worst team in the league in terms of goals scored this season and as a whole, they were extremely inconsistent.
The leading point getter was Mark Stone (62 points) and after him, it was slim pickings. Mike Hoffman (56 points), Matt Duchene (49 points), Ryan Dzingle (41 points), and Bobby Ryan (33 points) all had decent seasons, but obviously it was not enough to help their team win a lot of hockey games.
Speaking of putting up points, defenseman Erik Karlsson had another solid season on that end as he tied for the team lead in scoring with 62 points. However, he was awful defensively, much like the rest of his team, and was a -25 this year, which was third worst on the club this year.
This season may have been all kinds of bad, but their future looks bleak as well. No one is quite sure if Karlsson is going to remain a Senator, whether or not Guy Boucher will be back behind the bench, if owner Eugene Melnyk will say something stupid that will either hurt one of his players or the fans, and if there will continue to be attendance issues.
This franchise is not in a good place, folks. Whether it was their poor play this season or everything that happened or will happen off the ice, it is not great these days to be a Senators fan.
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.