The Ottawa Senators of last season had no shortage of reasons to give up and try again in 2013-14.
The Sens, you’ll recall, were absolutely devastated by injuries to key players, including Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, and Craig Anderson. But they didn’t give up; in fact, they thrived, finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 25-17-6 record.
Flash forward to the present and the Sens are relatively healthy. What they’re not, however, is a winning hockey team, with a record of 8-8-4 after 20 games. On Sunday, they lost, 4-1, at home to Columbus.
So, what gives?
“We can’t start games, to begin with,” Senators GM Bryan Murray told ESPN.com Monday. “We don’t move the puck nearly as well as I thought we did last year. We’re not playing with the same energy. We played hard every night last year. We’ve kind of lost that identity right now.”
Defensively is where the Sens have had their biggest issues. Their goals-against average sits at 2.95, 23rd overall. Last season, it was 2.08, second overall. A combination of too many shots allowed and spotty goaltending from starter Craig Anderson helps explain the difference this season.
The Sens are in Philadelphia to play the Flyers tonight. They host Minnesota tomorrow.
Former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore may have been coached by Mike Babcock, but that doesn’t mean he’s a fan of Mike Babcock.
Commodore played in just 17 games for the Detroit Red Wings during the 2011-12 season and that was enough for him to muster up some pretty harsh feelings toward his old coach.
As Babcock’s new team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, were being spanked in Detroit on Friday, Commodore took to Twitter to show fans just how much he was enjoying his former coach’s struggles.
Things got especially interesting after Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin scored just 20 seconds into the second period to give Detroit a 3-0 lead.
“3-0 nothin Babs you posing arrogant piece of (bleep),” said Commodore via his Twitter page. “Welcome back to the rink where everyone that met you hates you.”
Commodore wasn’t done there:
And there was much, much more.
To get a look at all of Commodore’s Babcock-bashing tweets, click here.
Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.
Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.
The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.
“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.
Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.
The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.
“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”