Ottawa Senators Mid-Season Thoughts

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After 41 games played, the Ottawa Senators mid-season review is upon us. The Ottawa Senators struggles are no secret to anyone now. After being one goal away from the Stanley Cup Final last spring, the team has underachieved greatly this season. In the month of December, the Sens finished 3-8-2. A record that is not to be proud of in anyway shape or form.

Ottawa Senators Mid-Season Thoughts

With a record of 14-18-9, the Senators are sitting in the bottom of the standings. The team ranks second last in the Atlantic division and 15th in the eastern conference. If you combine the Senators records in November and December, the team record sits at 6-13-3. A lot of expectations were set for the team coming into the new season considering their playoff run last year. It’s all but been accomplished by the Senators so far this year.

After starting out relatively strong considering they were missing their best defender in Erik Karlsson, it’s been all downhill from there. Currently, the Senators sit 10 points out of the last wild-card spot in the eastern conference. Although it doesn’t seem like a long shot considering there are still 41 games to be played, the Senators poor efforts all year round won’t make it any easier for them.

Here are some factors that are going great, and some that are poor for the Ottawa Senators halfway through their season.

The Good

There haven’t been too many things to get excited about this season for Sens fans. Especially the 2017 start to the season. With the new year upon us, the Senators have started out strong in their first three games. They sit with a 2-0-1 record to start off 2018. At this point in time, Sens fans will take anything they can get. Although they’re off to on a positive note so far, it’s something else that has Sens fans hopeful about

Thomas Chabot

After spending the good portion at the beginning of the season in Belleville, Thomas Chabot looks like he’s getting a long look from the coaching staff. The talented blueliner sits with eight points in 22 games played so far. Those aren’t numbers that will get someone out of their seat, but you have to look at why his numbers aren’t as high as some would expect them to be. When Chabot first was called up and was suiting up for the Senators on a regular basis, he wasn’t playing top-four minutes per say.

In his last four games, he’s seen himself paired up with Swedish superstar Erik Karlsson for the majority of the game. From his last four games, Chabot has seen a huge growth in his time on ice numbers. The lowest playing time he’s received in his last four has been 17:20, and his highest being 20:35.

Not only is Thomas Chabot an offensive-minded defender, he has great possession numbers to go along with it. His Corsi-for percentage sits at 53.4%, a very solid possession number. He ranks second amongst Senators defenders in Corsi-for %, Erik Karlsson is first with 54.6%. Not only is Chabot creating things in the offensive zone, he’s also playing a key role in puck possession when he’s on the ice.

Top Guns Starting To Produce

Along with the Sens marginal success to start off the new year, their top guns have started to produce also. In their last three games here are how their top players have been performing.

A big reason to why the Senators were struggling in the month of December was due to the lack of scoring. Clearly, something has sparked the offence and it’s clicking on all cylinders to start the new year.

Erik Karlsson has looked like the Erik Karlsson people are used to seeing from the offensive perspective. After going on a cold streak, Mark Stone has come to life. Matt Duchene is finally starting to play like how Sens fans and management hoped he would. Ryan Dzingel who has been pretty quiet this season has started to light the lamp as of recent too.

It comes at a perfect time during the Ottawa Senators mid-season mark to where they’ll look to make a strong push towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Poor

Many different things can be blamed on the Ottawa Senators mid-season performances. Aspects that led to the team to success last year haven’t been doing the same this year.

Poor Goaltending

After having one of the best goaltending duos in the NHL last year, it’s a different story for the Senators this season. After receiving an extension before the season started, number one goaltender Craig Anderson hasn’t been playing to the best of his abilities. Anderson has started in 28 games for the Sens this season, only coming into relief for backup Mike Condon twice.

Craig Anderson sits with a .897 SV% on the year. A number that no Sens fans want to see out of their number one goalie. After a strong year last year despite personal family issues, Anderson has struggled to find his game this season and it’s one of the contributors to the Sens poor season this year. Some fans believe that Anderson is starting to see dawn in his professional career and he isn’t the same goalie he was before. This argument could be used if his play worsened over the past few years, except it’s happened in a flash. It leaves people questioning how he could have such a solid season when he was 35 last year, but have such a poor season this year when he’s 36. Only a one year difference.

Also getting an extension in the summer was Ottawa Senators backup Mike Condon. After leading the Senators to a playoff berth last year, everyone knew Condon would be looked at as a solid backup option for the club. Except Condon hasn’t been all that better than Craig Anderson either. Condon currently is sitting with a .894 SV% just like Craig Anderson. In his last five starts, Condon is 1-3-1.

Goaltending has been one of the Senators kryptonites this season, if the team wants to see improvement, it has to get better sooner rather than later.

Dreadful Special Teams

You’ve probably heard it a bunch of times now. The Ottawa Senators special teams are a tire fire to watch. Their powerplay is an absolute disaster in any way you can think of. They already have enough trouble getting the puck in their opponents zone, and when they manage to do that they have trouble cycling it properly.

The Senators are currently 29th in the league in the penalty kill department. With a PK% of 74.2%. Something that fans would never think would be the case after having a much penalty kill last season. Their poor penalty kill has been one of the biggest X-factors in the Sens difficulties to stop the bleeding when it comes to goals against.

The powerplay isn’t anything to be excited about either. After bringing on head coach Guy Boucher in May 2016, Sens fans were hoping he would be the answer to the poor powerplay the team ran under former head coach Dave Cameron. Except they were left with the same result. A team that couldn’t manage to capitalize on their man advantage opportunities.

This season has been much of the same too. The Senators rank 28th in the league with a PP% of 15.4%. One of the many reasons that they’ve had troubles scoring in the last couple of months, especially on the man advantage. Whether the Sens want to improve this year or next, their special teams will come into effect if they want to be a dangerous special teams club.

Mid-Season Report Card

There are a lot of things that have gone wrong for the Ottawa Senators this season. The negative heavily outweigh the positives throughout the Ottawa Senators mid-season wrap up.

It’ll take a long winning streak and consistent play on a night to night basis if the Sens want to land a playoff spot when April comes around. Due to all the high expectations fans had for the team coming into this year, it’s been nothing but a disappointment so far.

Overall the first half of the season has been terrible for the Senators. The team will have to decide soon if they want to make a run for the playoffs or compete for a top pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. Whatever the team decides going forward, changes are expected to happen so they’re not in the same shoes as they are right now next season.

Mid-Season Grade: C-

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