The Great Ottawa Train Wreck

by | Jan 12, 2024

The Great Ottawa Train Wreck

by | Jan 12, 2024

It’s really hard to essentially write off a hockey team and their entire season when you know that season isn’t even half over but lately it feels like the Ottawa Senators have already booked their summer golf vacations for mid-April.  The entire 2023-24 NHL campaign has been a ritual of disappointment night after night and in the words of the great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, it’s like “deja vu all over again.”

What can I honestly say that’s entirely positive about the Ottawa Senators’ season in mid-January?  Well, they aren’t the worst team in the NHL at this point but just hold on a moment – the Sens’ season isn’t even half over.  This nightmare could in effect go on and on for the next three months until Game 82 gives you some relief until next September’s training camp.  Losing again to the Buffalo Sabres (there’s another team on the brink of disappointing fans yet again) on Thursday night with a final score of 5-3,  the Senators look like a  team that’s destined to self-immolate at the start of every game’s third period.  Just last Tuesday night on the road in Calgary, the Senators were on the verge of their first win in 2024 and leading the Flames 3-2 heading into the third period and, well, you guessed it – the Senators pushed the self-destruct button and gave up four unanswered goals and burned themselves to ashes in a 6-3 defeat.  With that defeat, the Senators drop to 14-23-0 which places them soundly in the Eastern Conference cellar.

The Ottawa Senators are looking like a Train Wreck.

Sometimes writing about the Ottawa Senators makes you repeat yourself over and over again in the verbiage that’s used to describe this franchise at this point in the NHL season.  Now, that may not be a bad thing to repeat yourself when talking about goals, save percentage, wins, overtime wins and goal scoring.  But alas, with the Senators, the terms I just mentioned don’t fit into my writing equation so far this season.  Words like disappointment, underwhelming and circus come more to mind for me at least.  One statistic you will definitely not find under any Ottawa Senators’ heading is outstanding goaltending.  Has anyone kept up with how many netminders the Senators have used in the last two seasons?  I honestly have given up trying to keep a running tab on the plethora of goalies that have been used in Canada’s national capital since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest goaltending tandem of Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg have been simply par for the course this season in Ottawa.  If you look at their statistics, they are not necessarily terrible as a netminding duo but I certainly wouldn’t even consider their overall NHL ranking to be anything close to average. Korpisalo has been the primary goaltender this season and with a 7-15 record, a 3.69 goals-against average and a sub-par .887 save percentage, it’s no wonder why the Senators have been leaking like a sieve between the pipes.  Sadly enough, Korpisalo’s backup in the form of Anton Forsberg has almost identical numbers with a 7-8 record and a 3.35 goals-against average and nearly identical .889 save percentage.  Please don’t ask where these two stand in the NHL stat rankings right now; being closer to the bottom than the top isn’t necessarily a compliment that an athlete wants to hear or be reminded of by writers like myself.

To make matters even worse, Anton Forsberg had to leave in the first period in Thursday night’s game with a right leg injury and if you know anything about Anton Forsberg, you know he’s prone to leg injuries.  Stay tuned for how long he will be out but guess what?  Next man up will probably be heard inside the Senators’ front office a lot the next couple of months.

Could hope be on the way in the form of Shane Pinto?

At this point, any good news is probably welcome in Ottawa right now -at least in terms of hockey.  Center Shane Pinto has been cleared after a 41 game suspension to start practicing with the Senators and he’s already been penciled in for the January 21st game against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Pinto had a good season last year with 20 goals and 35 total points in 82 games but was suspended by the NHL head office for gambling activities.  Pinto is scheduled to be signed to a one-year deal worth around $850,00 in U.S. dollars but that will still force the Senators to either release a player down to the AHL or force a quick player trade to stay under the current salary cap.

The return of Shane Pinto won’t necessarily be the salvation that the Senators so desperately need but at least there’s something positive to talk about for a change in Ottawa.  Other trade talks still surround both Vladimir Tarasenko and Dominik Kubalik as well so the Senators may be in a buying mood before the NHL trade deadline.  At any rate, this organization needs to take a real, hard look at itself.  The fans in Ottawa deserve better and it’s almost criminal to write off a whole season before the halfway point but the Ottawa Senators at this point are a train wreck heading into the abyss unless they can change their fortunes –immediately.

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