The Ottawa Senators dropped a 5-4 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday, amounting to the eighth straight loss for the beleaguered team.
It’s hard to find much that’s good about this edition of the Senators, who are 15-23-5 and have had more drama on and off the ice than most teams manage in a few decades. Ottawa is 0-7-1 in its past eight and very little has been going right.
For some, it’s on to the next page. And the next. And the next.
“Every day is a new day,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “I never change my approach and I’m not going to change it whether you win eight in a row or you’ve lost eight. Every day is a new day. You’ve got some different players in your lineup, you’re playing a different team and it’s a different opportunity.”
In a way, Boucher’s comments are admirable. He’s not going to change his approach, regardless of how many games the Senators drop.
So, what will change?
Right now, very little. The Senators are in a holding pattern and these types of losing streaks are par for the course.
Ottawa received a few quality performances on Sunday. Ryan Dzingel and Bobby Ryan were good and Rudolfs Balcers scored his first NHL goal. But the home crowd was quiet in anticipation of the Senators taking the ice and not even the returning Jean-Gabriel Pageau could breathe life into the barn. The Sens played an enigmatic second period, but it was not to be.
On the one hand, Ottawa was really in the game at points on Sunday. There were encouraging signs. On the other hand, as the silent crowd would denote, it was more of the same.
This is, after all, the longest losing streak for the Senators since 1997. And Ottawa will pack up for California, heading to visit the Ducks Wednesday in what could be a tough swing.
With the halfway point of the season in the rearview, the best news coming out of Ottawa is that nobody is in denial. Not anymore. The loss to the Hurricanes showed guts and there were signs of life, like Balcers’ play. But it also set the stage for what’s to come.
Right now, it’s about showing the wares. With Pageau returning and some pieces to show off, the Senators’ intentions are to sell and sell again. Dzingel’s hot play will certainly boost his market value.
And contract talks have cooled off between the team and Matt Duchene, which means that a new deal may not be in the offing. That should set up Duchene for the deadline as well, especially considering the fact that the 27-year-old isn’t exactly priming the pump to stay in the nation’s capital.
The Senators would like to sign Mark Stone, but that may not be happening either.
With Dzingel, Duchene and Stone as pending UFAs, the Senators have some attractive players to sell. And that could give the much-celebrated rebuild a boost, which in turn should give this lost season a silver lining.