Earlier this season, I came down pretty hard on the Ottawa Senators franchise, so much so that I was accused of being a Toronto Maple Leaf fan! While I definitely do not bleed blue and white, one has to be impressed by the Senators confidence level and work ethic during their current seven game winning streak. To me, that is directly attributable to the coaching staff led by Cory Clouston.
Ottawa has weathered the storm of having both Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza out of the line-up for extended periods as well as key players Pascal Leclaire, Filip Kuba and Milan Michalek out for varying lengths of time. The team is playing very well and could set a franchise record if they can manage a win against the Penguins Thursday night.
However, let's not forget that immediately preceding those seven wins, the Sens had recorded five straight losses. In those five games, Ottawa scored a total of five goals. Interestingly enough, over their most recent seven game run, the Senators have allowed a combined seven goals.
Do I think that Ottawa will make the playoffs this year? It will be tough, the Eastern Conference is very competitive. Any losing streak could put a team in free fall and in danger of missing the post-season dance. That said, I am certainly more open-minded about their prospects than I was a couple weeks ago.
I don't get it, the Sens fire their goaltending coach Eli Wilson and they immediately go on a tear? Was Wilson responsible for Ray Emery's shoddy play as well? Maybe, but highly unlikely. With both Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliott out of the line-up, third string goaltender Mike Brodeur kicked off the Sens current winning streak in fine fashion, recording 62 saves and allowing only two goals in the first two games. Brian Elliott then relieved Brodeur and proceeded to rattle off five straight victories, surrendering five goals against during the streak. Over his last five games, Elliott has a 1.00 goals-against-average (duh!) and 0.964 save percentage. It will be interesting to see what happens when Leclaire is ready to make his return. Assuming the streak is over by then, I see a relatively even split happening, at least until the next Leclaire injury.
Team Captain Daniel Alfredsson has shown no signs of rust since returning (earlier than anticipated…once again!) from his injury with ten points in six games. I'll bet Peter Forsberg wishes he had Alfy's recuperative powers.
Is it a coincidence that Alex Kovalev has a seven game point streak at the same time as the Sens winning streak? No, this is the production that Ottawa had hoped for after he signed in the nation's capital this past summer. The enigmatic Russian has eight points in his last seven games.
Milan Michalek is having a Cy Young type season. He currently has 18 goals and only six assists. While he is in line for a career high 28 goals, Michalek is on pace t