Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ottawa Senator Implosion

The Ottawa Senators went to the Stanley Cup finals last year. They were picked by most people to do very well this season as well (I picked them to win the East Conference). When they started off the season with a 15-2 record, it seemed all was well in Ottawa, but things fell apart.

They have not been a good team recently. Since 2008 began, the Sens have an 18-26 record (with four losses counted as regulation ties). This record is 25th best in the NHL and worst of any team that made the playoffs.

They qualified for playoffs in seventh seed in the east and are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins (who I predict will defeat Ottawa). In the first game of their playoff series, Pittsburgh shut them out 4-0. Things look very bad in Ottawa.

How did it get this way? They have too much talent to be this bad. Even with Daniel Alfredsson injured, they have a good number of talented players, led by Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Wade Redden. It looks like the team's problems are mostly psychological. They have stopped believing in themselves and have given up.

It seems they lost faith in their goaltending. Ray Emery may have played well in the 2007 Stanley Cup run, but he was terrible this year. He put up an .890 saves percentage and a 3.13 goals against average. Worse his erratic behavior became a distraction to the team. Martin Gerber took over as the Sens number one goalie, but aside from a strong first few weeks, was unable to steal any games for them. When things started to go sour, they tried the desperate solution and fired coach John Paddock. That didn't turn anything around.

I think the team needs a break. They need a new start. Next season can provide that for them. In the off season, they will need to find a new starting goalie they can believe in and a new coach and general manager since Bryan Murray has not done the job. Ottawa has too much talent to play as poorly as they have. They should turn things around, even with the same roster next year. This should be one of the better teams in the NHL. I think they will be next year, but this year has been ruined. It seems to be too late to get back on track and have any success in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Comments:
1) We made similar observations earlier today. The Senators on paper should not be in free-fall. They appear defeated already. It would be amazing if they won a game, let alone the series.
2) Bryan Murray needs a great deal of blame. He fired Paddock and the team has actualy done even worse since then. Owner Melnyck needs to fire his coach AND GM. Who can hopefully for Sen fans get things strait.
 
The Sens seem to havethe same blinders on re the goalies as the Flyers had in the late 90s, early 2000s. Everyone seemed to realise the goaltending was an Achille's heel EXCEPT the team's management; and now Ottawa is in the same boat. Gerber was let go by Carolina because he couldn't win the big games, why did Ottawa think he'd do any better for them?
 
1) Can see Huet going back north after his Caps playoff run is completed.
 
"Can see Huet going back north after his Caps playoff run is completed."

Huet is likely to be a very sought after free agent, that is certain.
 
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