Eight games into the season, and only the Edmonton Oilers have fewer points. And if you were Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, you wouldn’t be too impressed with the way things have started.
Well he isn’t alone. Fans, media and most importantly, the players aren’t yet ready to panic, but there can’t be much time left before that time comes in Ottawa.
Coming off an emotional high Friday night when they defeated the Buffalo Sabres and Daniel Alfredsson recorded his 1000th point, the Sens came out flat 24 hours later and lost at home 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens.
“It’s not what we wanted,” forward Mike Fisher said. “It would be nice to get rolling but it wasn’t tonight. We just need focus on the next game and get better.”
Early in the fall teams can start off slowly and play better as the season wears on. However dropping points, as the Sens have done, cannot be made up. And two points in October count the same in the standings as two points March.
“Its frustrating because we know we have to start winning and getting on a role,” Fisher said. “It’s got to start sometime.”
The Senators have the second lowest goals for in the league, and part of that is due to players missing games (Filip Kuba, Jason Spezza) as well as players recovering from major knee surgery (Alex Kovalev, Milan Michalek). While it might explain some of the reasons for lack of production, there are still too many players looking for their first of the season.
“We don’t know what it is,” Sens forward Nick Foligno said. “We know there are turnovers and we need to find a way to eliminate them and get pucks to the net to create chances. We have to find a way to simplify our game.”
Goal scoring has been an issue, but more importantly the production from the blue line has hurt this squad, at both ends of the ice. Only two defensemen have scored, and as a group they are a combined -20. Of course there will be an adjustment after losing Anton Volchenkov to free agency and having Kuba out with an injury. If the fortunes of this team are to change, and improvement in this area is needed.
One group that can’t be faulted are the keepers. While the stats show a team that has given up 30 goals in eight games, the play of Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliot hasn’t really cost this team too many points. Of course, they aren’t stealing any either, but better goal production up front will benefit the keepers.
“We have to find our footing,” Elliot said after the Montreal loss. “As a goaltender you have to be the backbone and try to keep us in games until we figure stuff out.”
The Sens are in the middle of a four game home stand, and will use those games to further evaluate their squad. If they aren’t able to make improvements in the next week, you can count on some changes being made.
Simply put, the Senators can’t afford to fall back any further in the Eastern Conference.