When looking back over the absolute soul-decimating roller coaster of this season, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why things have gone the way they have for the Ottawa Senators.
For the previous two playoff-proven seasons, Ottawa was a battle-hardened team that won more one-goal games than anyone in the NHL. Even in the games that they lost, fans and players always had a sense that the Sens were still ‘in it’.
This year has been the polar opposite of the past two seasons, in that they have definitely blown out a few opponents (6-1 over Detroit in October and 5-0 over Pittbsurgh in December), but they have also been on the receiving ends of some blasters too (including 7-2 and 6-1 losses since returning from the Olympic break).
With the amount of talent, up-and-comer zest, powerhouse goaltending and proper off-season moves within this team, it’s safe to say that most sports analysts had the RABHA as placing fifth or maybe even fourth in the conference this year.
Currently, Ottawa is 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 27-25-11 record, six points out of a wildcard spot, and just dropped two fairly winnable games to Calgary and Edmonton (the second and third-worst teams in the NHL).
Who’d have thunk it?
THE END IS NIGH:
Ultimately, we all know that in the wide world of sports, anything can happen. Teams can go on streaks and runs and pull frenzying, magical wins out of their rabbit-hats.
After a while though, and in the long run, hockey is a sport that is definitely based in the hard, cold world of realism. If a team doesn’t want it enough, they probably won’t get it. If players aren’t happy with the locker room atmosphere, they won’t put in their best effort. If a team is divided into two or three different camps, the coaching will fall on deaf ears and systems will go by the wayside as players get frustrated and try to take matters into their own hands.
It’s clear that something is wrong with the psyche of the Ottawa Senators. The force has been disturbed and the dark side seems to be winning. With all of the strange benchings, neurotic line-juggling and evident on and off-ice frustration, there has to be something (far beyond the eyes of the most connected sports writers) going on within the core of this team.
Do they party too much? Do they not care? Did they expect this season to be a cake-walk after succeeding expectations in the past two seasons? Are they pointing fingers at each other or at their coach? Did MacLean become all high and mighty after winning the Jack Adams? Is Bobby Ryan a loose cannon? Are guys like Karlsson and Spezza both the best assets AND worst enemies of their own team at times? Have Anderson and Lehner been pissed off at the defensive play of their team? Is Chris Neil unhappy that he wasn’t made the big C and taking out that frustration in practice against younger guys like Cowen and Conacher?
There are a lot of questions circulating and I wish I had the answers, but I do not. Everything I just wrote is purely speculation. Thankfully, I’m only a fan who watches the games and who can glean a tiny bit of insight into the realm of the RABHA.
I can only imagine how awful it would be to actually be in the locker room these days.
Barring a net-filling-flurry-like, rejuvenation-esque finish to season, the Sens playoff hopes are nearing the end as they finish their Western Canadian road trip and take on the Winnipeg Jets today at 3:00 PM EST.