Ottawa Senators – Winners Never Quit

Matt McKechnie January 23, 2014 1
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In an offensively lackluster game, the Ottawa Senators rebounded from an ugly 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers and shut out the Ovechkin-less Washington Capitals by a score of 2 to nil.

The Alien made 34 saves for his third shutout of the season, and marked the third Sens goalie shutout in the past three weeks (with Robin Lehner notching a doughnut night against the Minnesota Wild a few games ago).

On a bit of a point-tear since late December, the Sens have only had two regulation losses in their last 13 games.

What’s been even more comforting than the increasingly stable play of the D-men has been the sharp, gold nugget games that have been offered by the netminders.

With the playoffs getting closer and closer, the Sens played well enough against the Caps, fought off a few penalties, had a red-hot Anderson help get them out of some jams, and got some nice goals from Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris to seal the game’s fate.

THE LONG (AND OFTEN STREAKY) ROAD AHEAD:

Although I’d agree that the Sens are indeed a pesky team, they can almost be equally streaky when it comes to offense. Sure – Bobby Ryan has 19 goals, but he only has one in his last five games.

The same goes for the big C; Jason Spezza. The Spezz dispenser has had somewhat of a frustrating season after missing 43 games last year, and has only popped out 1 goal and 1 assist in his last five as well.

A few games ago, everyone was talking big cheese about the Nines Line and how they shouldn’t be broken up (Michalek, Zibanejad, Conacher), but that line has only contributed two total points in the last five games (1 assist apiece from Michalek and Conacher).

In terms of disappointments, Michalek has also had one of his worst seasons to date. With only seven goals and 13 assists (20 pts) in 50 games, the Czech Republic olympian has been absent at times and unable to dig in and get that extra speedy step that he’s had in past years.

The only real consistent offensive juggernauts for the entire season have been Kyle Turris, Clarke MacArthur and Erik Karlsson. In their last five games, Karlsson has 6 points (1 G, 5 A), Turris has 5 points (4 G, 1 A) and Mac has 4 points (2 G, 2 A).

If the Sens are going to make the playoffs, and they are putting themselves in a good position to do so, they need more production from the whole Nines Line, Zack Smith, Erik Condra and Colin Greening. Smith was ramping up his net-finding skills at one point, but he has been too silent for too long.

The best teams in this league have depth – and not only in the physical, forecheck and backcheck areas of the game, but also in finding the back of the net.

One can only hope that the ticker tape point parade gets started back up tonight as the 22-19-9 RABHA roll into Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning at 7:30 PM EST.