The time may have come for the Ottawa Senators to start thinking about their future. Ottawa now has five straight losses and sit at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Their consecutive run of making the playoffs is in serious jeopardy at eleven years.
The problem hasn’t been with the special teams; the Sens are tied for the fifth lowest power play goals allowed and they have scored the eighth most power play goals in the league. The trouble is that they are the lowest scoring team in the league when five on five.
Once again, scoring outside the top line is a major problem. Mike Fisher is an excellent two-way second line player, but he’s often injured and can’t do it by himself. Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly have been ineffective and are not the answer.
The rumoured attempts of trading for Matthias Ohlund would just be delaying the inevitable; this team is going nowhere even if they qualify for the playoffs. It might be better to realize this now and maybe even secure a lottery pick in an effort to snag a top pick in the entry draft. Getting a talented youngster to build on Heatley (27), Alfredsson (35) and/or Spezza (25) would only benefit the Senators future.
There is still plenty of time to turn it around for the Senators. One hot streak and they will be back in playoff contention, but is that really the best thing for the franchise? No doubt Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson are just slumping right now and will surely break out of it in a big way soon, but that’s really missing the big picture. The long-term prognosis for the franchise is not flattering. This dysfunctional group needs to be stripped down and rebuilt with some new key components. This group’s time has passed.
The Senators have some high-end talent, but what they really need is a better supporting cast. In 2005-06 (52 wins 113 points), the Senators defence consisted of Chara, Redden, Meszaros, Phillips, Volchenkov, Pothier and Schubert. The following year (48 wins, 105 points), they fielded Redden, Corvo, Preissing, Meszaros, Phillips, Volchenkov and Schubert. Last year (43 wins 94 points – see a trend here?), they lost Preissing and traded Corvo during the season, ineffectively replacing them with Schubert and Luke Richardson.
Detroit General Manager Ken Holland believes a puck moving defence is his team’s top priority and that’s where he chooses to spend a good chunk of Mr. Ilitch’s dough. This season, Ottawa’s top defender has been Filip Kuba. There’s no denying that he’s off to a great start and will most certainly set a career high in points this season, but are you really comfortable building around a 31-year-old whose best season to date is 37 points? Phillips and Volchenkov are still very strong defenders, but after those three come Picard, Jason Smith and Luke Richardson. They are an average group at best. If it means they can’t afford their big three forwards and a top defenseman, then one of the big three must go.
Not many teams have the luxury of a goalie like Luongo, Brodeur or Lundqvist, but with a strong defence and defensively conscious forwards playing in a responsible system, all you need is a goalie that can be counted on to make key stops at crucial times.
Ottawa’s goaltending situation is unsettled at best. Auld has been decent, but Gerber’s confidence has to be shattered. The real question is, can the player’s trust Auld come pl