After acquiring a player like Matt Duchene, you wouldn’t think a team would hit rock bottom. However, it seems that the Ottawa Senators have done exactly that. The Senators are currently sitting third last in the league with 32 points in 37 games played.
The team is currently second last in the Atlantic Division aswell. Just last season, the Sens were sitting second in the Atlantic with 43 points after playing 35 games. They would go on to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final and were just one goal away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. This season has been anything but a step forward.
Here are three reasons the Ottawa Senators downfall has happened. It should be noted that these are in no particular order.
Three Reasons For The Ottawa Senators Downfall
The Senators special teams have been horrendous once again this season. Last season, it was much of the same story. In the 2016-17 season, the Senators were known for their dominant penalty kill. They started this year with a red hot start. They were at one point the only team that was perfect on the penalty kill in the entire league.
The success has completely evaporated. Two months later, the Senators now hold a 79% penalty kill percentage which ranks 24th in the NHL. The Sens have allowed 21 goals against when their opponent is on the man advantage. That currently has them sitting at 19th in the league.
Since December 1st, the Sens sit with 72.7% penalty kill which ranks 28th in the league. They’re also fourth in powerplay goals against with 12. You would hope a team with such a poor penalty kill would try and take fewer penalties. In reality, it is the complete opposite for the Senators. They’re seventh in the NHL in penalty minutes from the start of December to now.
Their power play hasn’t been anything to get excited about either. Since the start of the season, the Senators powerplay ranks 29th in the league at 15.9%. From the beginning of December up until now, they rank 18th in the league at 16.2%. The special teams for the Senators have been awful, and it’s one of the reasons they’re spinning out of control.
The Crippling Lack of Depth On The Team
One of the reasons for the struggles is the lack of production from some of their top players this season. Matt Duchene hasn’t boosted their offence like Sens management hoped he would. Erik Karlsson went on long point drought, which is a disaster considering he’s the Sens most productive player. Mark Stone has slowed down since his red-hot start to the season as well.
But that’s not the biggest problem that faces the Senators. Karlsson, Duchene and Stone cannot be stopped forever. It’s the teams depth that is lacking production.
The Senators third and fourth lines aren’t the fastest in the league. When Mike Hoffman takes a seat on the third line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, it certainly helps but Hoffman is not a third liner. Here’s a look at how bad the depth really is for the Ottawa Senators. When you compare the point totals of Gabriel Dumont, Nate Thompson, Alexandre Burrows, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Tom Pyatt, combined they have a total of only 46 points. This is simply not good enough for a team to be successful in today’s NHL.
Combined those players have a total of 16 goals. After not re-signing players like Viktor Stalberg and Tommy Wingels, they went into July 1st and signed players that were not near the calibre of those two. There is reason to be optimistic. Filip Chlapik who has been impressive in Belleville was called up recently. He’s without a question been one of the Senators best forwards and one of their best depth players so far.
If the Senators want wins the come their way whether it’s this season or next, they’ll have to look at upgrading and improving their depth.
Shifting Away From “The System”
The Ottawa Senators season has been disappointing to say the least. After what seemed like such a strong defensive team last season, it’s been anything but that this season. When the 2016-17 season wrapped up, the Sens ranked 10th for goals against per game with 2.56. That solid number explained why they were so strong in their own zone. They were 16th in shots against per game with 30.09, middle of the pack.
On the offensive side it wasn’t as strong, the Senators ranked 17th in shots for per game with 30.04. The goals for per game average was where it was concerning for the team. The Sens ranked 22nd with 2.51. Although that isn’t a lot of offense being generated, it was their defensive game that was leading them to success. The Senators liked to score first and shut down and frustrate their opponents.
This season, the Senators rank 21st in shots against per game with 31.16. This has been climbing of late due to the poor defensive efforts. The goals against per game is really hurting the Ottawa Senators. So far this season, they rank third last with 3.32.
Where the Problems Lie
It’s a mystery as to why the Ottawa Senators downfall happened. Their blueline isn’t much different from last year. They only real loss is Marc Methot. But is Methot’s absence to be blamed for this? There’s a lot of questions that are still unsolved, yes Marc Methot was a solid defensive partner for Erik Karlsson, but he couldn’t have been the backbone of the Senators strong defensive efforts.
It looks like the Ottawa Senators season is over, but it’ll be interesting to see what they do for next season. Erik Karlsson’s last year on his contract.
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