The Break’s over for the Ottawa Senators

USATSI_9003284_154158418_lowresAfter a loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, the Ottawa Senators headed into the Christmas break – and they needed it.

The club took a 2-1 shootout loss in Florida and injuries forced them to do a lot of juggling, even if goalie Craig Anderson kept them in the game.

But now, Ottawa has lost five of their past seven. Clarke MacArthur, Chris Phillips and Milan Michalek are still among the injured, plus Cody Ceci is out with an upper body injury and Curtis Lazar missed Saturday’s skate.

At least Bobby Ryan is projected to return, so that’s something. With a home-and-away against the Boston Bruins on the docket, they’ll take any kind of good news they can get.

“Breaks are good,” said Anderson. “For us, it’s a chance to step back and reflect on the first part of the year and really think about what we need to do to accomplish our goals in the second half.”

The Senators are 17-12-6, good for fifth in the Atlantic Division. They’re a point up on the New Jersey Devils and sit with the second wild card playoff spot, but that will not last. They’ll need to start stacking up some wins in order to take firm hold of post-season position, but there are some issues plaguing this team.

The Senators have been able to put the puck in the net. They’ve scored 105 goals, which is great.

They’ve also allowed 104 goals against, which is not great. Ottawa’s porous defence has left Anderson and his backup Andrew Hammond in tight spot after tight spot, with the Senators allowing more shots-against than any other team in the NHL. As of press time, they’ve allowed an average of 33.9 shots per game while taking just 27.7.

There are bright spots, like the play of Erik Karlsson. He leads the team in points, with 38 in 35 games, and he’s accountable for 88 shots on target so far.

Ryan has 32 points in 34 games, while Mike Hoffman leads the squad in goals with 17 in 31 games. Kyle Turris has 13 goals, but that makes just three Senators with double-digit numbers in the category.

Fortunately, Anderson and Hammond have done the impossible in the Ottawa crease. Anderson has a 15-9-4 record so far with a 2.73 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. He’s faced an alarming 934 shots on goal, while Hammond’s faced 201 in just six games. The 27-year-old from Surrey has a .925 save percentage to go with a 2.47 goals against average.

So yes, the Ottawa Senators needed that Christmas break. But they also need to get their act together, especially in their own end. They can’t afford any more lapses as they cling to life in the post-season and it’s long past time they give their hard-working goalies a break.


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