The Ottawa Senators find themselves halfway through reconstruction and things are as difficult to pin down as ever.
Just when you thought the Sens would be destined to inhabit the grimy basement of the North Division without hope of seeing dawn, Ottawa pulls off a few plucky wins.
Granted, the Sens are in last place with 19 points and a 9-18-1 record so we won’t be planning the parade just yet. But they are only six points behind the Calgary Flames and have more goals than their Red Mile rivals.
While their goal differential is a mucky minus-32 and they’ve allowed a dreadful 108 goals against, these Senators have proven to be some seriously shifty spoilers.
Consider the effect Ottawa had on the Montreal Canadiens and, to a lesser but no less curious extent, the Flames. The Habs sacked Claude Julien after they lost to the Senators and Calgary dropped Geoff Ward for Cowboy Darryl Sutter after a game against the lowly club.
Ottawa is the team everyone thinks they should beat, yet here they are taking wins over the Habs, Flames, and Toronto Maple Leafs like they’re the bravest dog in the yard.
The belief that a game against the Senators is an automatic win for the opposition isn’t as sound anymore and that says…something.
If we’re being honest, saying something is about as good as it gets right now. And many players have had a chance to shine, like Tim Stützle, Drake Batherson, and Josh Norris.
Stützle has 15 points in 25 games, generating 58 shots on goal for a 10.3 percent shooting percentage. He’s got 21 hits and eight penalty minutes.
Thomas Chabot leads with 19 points, while Batherson has nine goals and nine assists – the same numbers as Brady Tkachuk.
Norris has 15 points in 28 games, including five goals and 10 helpers.
Despite strong showings from rookies and young skaters, Ottawa’s had problems in goal and difficulty defending. Matt Murray has been struggling with consistency and the lack of a solid backup is starting to show. Marcus Hogberg was less than ideal in 10 performances, posting a 4.34 goals against average.
The Sens are turning to Boston native Joey Daccord with Hogberg injured. Daccord is still looking for his first W after four appearances and two starts this season.
With the April 12 trade deadline approaching, the Senators will make their mark as sellers. They’ve got eight pending UFAs and decisions will need to be made determine exactly what kind of hockey club this is going to be.
The youth movement has impressed but the shortcomings are evident. The deadline could give the Senators a chance to address some faults without selling out the future.
Up next, the Senators face the Oilers for two more games before hosting the Maple Leafs on March 14.