It is hard to believe that just one and a half short years ago the Ottawa Senators were playing the Anaheim Ducks for the Stanley Cup. It just goes to show you how fast and how far a team can fall in today’s NHL. Far from the perennial Stanley Cup contender Ottawa fans have been used to seeing over the past several seasons, the Ottawa Senators are now at team that will be happy if they secure a playoff spot this season.
The blame for this sudden drop in efficacy can be laid squarely at the feet of team management. Not only did they allow their two best defensemen (Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden) to escape through free agency over the past few years, but they’ve been unable to address the main problem that kept them from being Stanley Cup champs in the past: the lack of a bona fide number one goaltender.
With the departure of the controversial Ray Emery, it has fallen to Martin Gerber and Alex Auld to battle it out for the number one spot in Ottawa, and up until a few games ago it didn’t look like either goalie wanted the position very badly. To be fair though, the rest of the team was playing awful in front of them, so I am hesitant to condemn the goaltending tandem completely at this point.
However, there are signs of life starting to emerge in Ottawa. The potent line combo of Heatley, Spezza, and Alfredsson have been reunited, and are proving the chemistry isn’t gone. The Senators, led by the star trio, are starting to find their stride and have reeled off 3 wins in a row at home, including an impressive 5-1 drubbing of the Atlanta Thrashers last night.
Granted, 3 wins in a row at home (with a 4-2 road loss to the New York Islanders sandwiched in between) isn’t exactly cause for fans to be doing cartwheels, but it is a start. Sure, they may be mired in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, and currently sit a game under .500, but there is enough talent, grit and experience on this roster to will this team into the playoffs.
Don’t give up hope yet, Sens fans. Your team looks to be shaking out of their funk, and if they can land a stud on defense and find a solution to their goaltending problem they could again be a Stanley Cup contender come this spring.