Thoughts on the Ottawa Senators

Ok, I am back from vacation and a lot has happened over the last 10 or so days that I was away. Since I was in Florida where hockey news is sparse and hockey coverage on TV was non-existant I was dependent on the internet to keep up to date on what was happening. Let me say that I am not surprised that Buffalo defeated the Senators. In fact, I predicted it, though I am a bit surprised they did it in just 5 games. So, what was wrong with the Senators. Well, before the season I thought there were three question marks with the Senators.

1. Goaltending. After playing just 14 games in 3 years can Hasek return to form and stay healthy?

2. Spezza. Can Jason Spezza peform like a true #1 center which is something Ottawa has lacked for several years.

3. Experienced depth, especially on defense. The top 10-12 players on the team looked excellent but they were going to have to depend on a lot of inexperienced players.

Though not a prime reason for losing, goaltending did seem to be a bit of a factor. Hasek wasn’t healthy and though Emery played great at times, at other times (like game 1) he wasn’t there to make the big save. Miller clearly out played Emery.

Though Spezza performed excellent at many times during the season and post season, at other times his inexperience and someone weak defensive play showed. He clearly has the talent and ability to be a dominant #1 center but his inexperience still showed at times. His game needs a bit more refinement and I think he, like many of his team mates, has to use his size a bit more.

I got a lot of flack for listing Ottawa’s lack of experienced defense depth as a weakness and it didn’t show up as a problem in the regular season but it seemed to in the playoffs. Pothier played fairly well but by all accounts Mezsaros had a pretty mediocre playoff and Volchenkov struggled at times too. And when Phillips and/or Chara stuggled with injuries the team was hindered because they couldn’t lighten their work load any because they didn’t have an experienced defenseman who could step up and take on more minutes of ice time.

But maybe the biggest problem with this Senators team is they just seem to not know how to win. They seem to rely on talent far too much and not enough on hard work. Too many players on this Senators team just do not have that never quit even if I have to plow through a brick wall attitude. A little bit more effort from one of several players on that overtime goal on Saturday night and the goal doesn’t go in. Talent is great but hard work is what wins and I just feel they Senators as a team, and especially their top tier players, don’t put in that extra effort in. This team needs some quality, hard working veterens with playoff experience. A Chris Drury type. Or a Teppo Numminen. People talk about signing Joe Sakic, and certainly he would help, but the Senators don’t need his talent, just his experience. All they need is a player or two who has experienced playoff sucess and who will work his butt off and pressure the more talented players on the Senators to do the same and show the team what it takes to win. The team needs to be taught to win as apparently it isn’t learning how to do it on their own.

Finally, before the season I also posed the question of if the Senators faultered in the playoffs again, should the Senators consider trading Daniel Alfredsson. Think about it. The Senators have suffered playoff disapointments for several years now. Since the last disapointment Lalime was shipped out of town, Spezza replaced Bonk as the #1 center, Heatley replaced Hossa as the co-number 1 winger and Bryan Murray replaced Jacques Martin as coach. Apparently none of those were the problem so could the problem be with the captain Alfredsson? Should the captain and the supposed leader of the team finally get some blame for the constant playoff disapointments? What do you all think? Vote in the poll in the right sidebar.

This article has 13 Comments

  1. agree The SENS need some heart…maybe giving up on some talent and bringing in some guts and character would do the trick.

  2. Hey,

    First off, Im a die-hard sens fan.

    All the points you made David is dead on.

    Alfreddson needs to be traded for a good veteran defenseman. He will be great trade bait. He just isnt a leader, he doesnt know how to motivate the team after disapointing losses and rally the troops. Ive said it before and I’ll say it again. When the Sens lost game 1 in overtime i knew the Sens playoffs hopes were over. The playoffs were basically over for me after that cuz I knew what would happen and it did.

    The point about not winning and needing a Chris Drury type is definately dead on.

    The OT goal was freaking pathetic, any playoff grinder would have slashed the guys wrists off. Your on the powerplay, save your season and take a penalty. Its still only 4-on-4.

    The Senators have Neil and McGratton (thats great grit) but you need just more than that to win the playoffs. The Senators have enough talent, they need more down-in-trenches players. Get some down and dirty players to play against the other team’s best line. You NEED a shutdown line in the playoffs to succeed.

    I think Mike Fisher was easily the best player in the playoffs night-in and night-out. They can’t let this guy go and could be a real leader if they want him to be.

    Chara is definately gone and they need to make salary room to sign a real playoff goalie. Joe Sakic would be incredible for the winning experience like previously said, but i dont think the cap room is there.

    The free-wheeling, offensively explosive Senators can win with that style if they had a clutch goalie.

    Also what has been said before is the Detroit Red Wings were like the Sens in the early to mid 90s untill they broke through and won multiple cups. I really hope that is true. Every spring is the same broken record.

  3. typical Dave, always trying to give himself a pat on the back. So what if you predicted that Buffalo would beat Ottawa? There are a ton of others who did as well and are u going to pat yourself on the back about New Jersey?

  4. “The Senators have Neil and McGratton (thats great grit)”

    This biggest mistake Senators fans make is mistake toughness for grit. McGratton is certainly tough and can fight with the best of them but he is a useless playoff player because he just isn’t a good enough hockey player. Neil, as I have always said, is a bit of a reluctant fighter. He’ll pick his spots but isn’t someone opposing teams fear. He is a nice player and will stand in front of the opposing teams nets but he isn’t really the gritty player that will fight the battles at all costs. Neil isn’t the tough, gritty, hard working, will go through a wall kind of leader the Senators need. Who is more hated around the league? Who is the harder worker and more fearless player? 6′, 213 pound Chris Neil or 5’10”, 180 pound Darcy Tucker.

    “There are a ton of others who did as well and are u going to pat yourself on the back about New Jersey?”

    No, because I got that wrong. Do you pat yourself on your back when you get things wrong?

    But how many people said that the Senators lack of experienced depth on defense would be an issue? Not many. I should know because I got flamed to no end (especially by Senators fans) for saying what I did.

  5. good point on the wings – – they had like 6 great regular seasons followed by playoff disappointments before they came through in 1997. recall, they didn’t win till they added Shanahan. Ottawa could use a younger Shanahan.

  6. The Sens need that one leader, a guy who has won a Cup before and can lead a team. They need a leader like the Rangers needed one in 1994. on the free agency side, they will lose Redden and maybe Chara. Hasek – can’t see a 40 year old being a stud in goal, but then again, you don’t need that in the new NHL

  7. “Do you pat yourself on your back when you get things wrong?”

    I’d post them when I get them wrong or right.

  8. “Hasek – can’t see a 40 year old being a stud in goal, but then again, you don’t need that in the new NHL”

    Umm, yeah, you do still need a stud goalie. Of the 3 teams already moving on to the semi-finals, 1, 2 and 6 in save percentage (Bryzgalov, Ward and Miller respectively) and the Oilers Roloson is 4th. San Jose’s Toskala is 8th and falling as the Sharks are falling behind in the series. Without excellent goaltending it is extremely difficult to win.

  9. “This biggest mistake Senators fans make is mistake toughness for grit. ”

    I think many fans do that about their teams. That is a great observation – – there is a huge difference between toughness and grit. And grit is what you need to win a Cup.

  10. Bob Gainey said it best in January; ‘that team won’t be judged by how well they won a mid-season game against a team struggling to make the playoffs, they’ll be judged on how well they do in the playoffs’.

    Maybe the Sens cocky stars should learn a little humility along the way and respect the game, or their fans should get used to disappointment.

  11. two words fix the Sens lack of heart..Dave Cameron, he is a former teammate and a mentor to me..he coaches the Sens farm team and would definately take the Sens to the next level..he has won @ every level…he is a teacher, motivator, and a players coach…and a little crazy..

  12. Goaltending = Key to playoff success

    You can have a good / great regular season with average to above average goaltending …. but in order to win a Cup, you need your goalie to be a stud.

    In my opinion, if Miller was in net for Sens (and Emery in net for Buffalo), the Sens win the series. It’s not that Emery was that bad, he was good, but he wasn’t GREAT (like Miller) … always 1 save short of pushing the Sens over the edge … see Game 1 (tying goal and overtime goal) …. same as the overtime winners …

    It doesn’t help when your team can’t score … but that can be attributable to Miller standing on his head

  13. I hate the Sens with all that I am… i say move the team out of Ottawa. God I hate them…so glad they lost.

    GO LEAFS GO in 2006-2007

Comments are closed.