The Ottawa Senators have hit the 30 game mark of the season with an awful 5-1 loss in New Jersey. They’ve won just 11 of their first 30 games. A grand total of 27 points.
Last year the Boston Bruins got the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 94 points. To reach 94 points this season, the Sens must garner 67 points in their final 52 games. They could accomplish that a number of ways.
Maybe a 32-17-3 record? 29-14-9? Anybody willing to bet their dwindling savings that this club will play 15 games above 500 the rest of the way? Anyone? Oh, wait. If it helps you decide, I should also mention the Sens are the NHL’s worst road team and they’ll be going on an 8 game roadie after tonight.
For a while this team was just snake bitten. Now they’re just a mess in every way.
Looking back, nobody ever mistook Wade Redden, Andrej Meszaros, Tom Preissing and Joe Corvo for Norris candidates. I think, at times, all four were horrible defensively and had a terrible penchant for giveaways. But they made that quick first pass way better than any of the Senators current starting six. It’s night and day.
Remember, 6 of the Senators’ top 7 scoring forwards are still here from the Cup run in ’07. So why do they suddenly look like Darcy Loewen has been given them scoring lessons? They’ve stopped scoring because far too often outlet passes are everywhere but on the tape.
Forwards generally have about 1.5 seconds to accept the pass then find a teammate to pass to. The Sens' forwards have to use that time to reach back for a pass, catch it with their glove or pull it out of their skates. As a result, that forward has no time to make a good pass and the cycle continues all the way down the ice. That’s assuming you were fortunate enough not to have turned the puck over or been knocked unconscious.
This has destroyed the scoring confidence of this club. If that goes on long enough, it tends to spread to overall confidence. And it has. They're a wreck.
This week they let Atlanta and New Jersey, hardly elite teams, take them to the woodshed. The Thrashers and Devils put a collective 9-2 pounding on them at a time when the Sens should have been playing for their lives. They had nothing. Their mojo is gone.
As is, I think this team will do well to play 500 hockey the rest of the way. That would have them finishing at 79 points. Using last season’s stats, that makes the Sens a lottery team.
But with some changes there’s still time for a turnaround, the big finish. This core of forwards is very solid. Before you scoff at that, check other rosters around the league. It's their defence. It just isn’t NHL caliber. You have three shut down guys, a marginal power play guy and two minor leaguers. Again, they wouldn’t have to be Norris candidates, but they need to add two slick, front line defencemen immediately.
I guess you could say, all I want for Christmas is my two front D.
(Steve is on vacation until the new year but will be blogging regularly. All his finest blogs are fuelled by egg nog.)