Saturday, November 22, 2008



So all good things must come to an end; today Ottawa finally notches a regulation win, a win against one of the best teams in the East. That this win comes partially thanks to an uninspired Ranger team perhaps diminishes some of the relief that the win gives us, but at the end of the day two points is two points.

(It might have been nicer if these two points had accompanied a Toronto regulation loss, but we can't have everything.)

The last three games have shown more promise than those before. More offense, more discipline, and getting some breaks are putting the team in a position where if the opposition isn't on their game, the Senators can win.

Have they turned the corner? It is far, far too soon to say either way -- although they are still too close to the bottom of the standings for there to be much more time to wait.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chilly at the bottom

So here we are at the bottom of the East. The good news, if it is good, would be that we are only 3 points out of the last playoff spot. The bad news is that this means there are six teams which are also within one or two points out of the last playoff spot. Past years have shown that this log-jam at the bottom is only likely to get worse, not better, as the season draws to a close, and the team really needs to be well up the standings in order to have the luxury of preparing for the playoffs rather than having to fight to make them.

A couple of years ago I wrote that the Senators' performance was due primarily to a sea of mediocrity in the East. It has become obvious that this team's loss in skill (and perhaps motivation), plus the improvement in skill in the rest of the East, has swamped the Senators. Gone are the days when we could win without trying.

For all the stick that John Muckler and Jacques Martin took about having an under-producing team, one could make the convincing argument that Murray rode the tails of both Muckler's and Martin's accomplishments to the cup final; since being granted the opportunity to place his own stamp on the team, the results have become somewhat poorer.

While too early to panic, I think it is time to consider that the team can no longer be "tweaked" into becoming a contender and longer term plans (along with appropriate, lower expectations) be put in place. This is a shame considering the top-line talent that the team has in long-term contracts in Heatly, Spezza and Alfredsson; if the team does go into a rebuilding phase, there is a question as to how productive these players will be once the rebuilding is complete. The problem is that right now the rest of the team can't support the three top players.

Again, I don't think it is time to throw everybody out and start from scratch; merely time to start considering it should things not improve.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

OTT 1 NYR 2 (SO)

So, on the one hand, it is a loss. On the other hand, it is a shoot-out loss, which means that the Senators kept one of the East's best teams to one goal in regulation and blanked OT. Coming off of two back-to-back, arguably blow-out losses to one of the East's worst teams, this is a step forward.

Or at least it will be if they can keep it up.

Ottawa needs to ensure that they keep this kind of work ethic up when playing lesser teams -- including (especially!) the upcoming game against Toronto Montreal, and then again when the Rangers come back to Ottawa on the weekend.