The Ottawa Senators felt they deserved better in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Florida.
“We attempted 83 shots on net, 40 shots, we had 26 scoring chances,” head coach Guy Boucher told reporters. “You can’t get more, you can’t get better quality; it’s just from there, we’ve got to continue improving our work around the net.”
But it won’t get any easier to score tonight in Montreal, where Carey Price is the projected starter for the 14-3-2 Canadiens. The Sens will enter with the NHL’s 29th-ranked offense (2.06 goals per game). That’s better than only Buffalo’s (1.89), which is apparently a “joke.”
Consider: the Sens have played 10 games this month, and they’ve yet to score more than two goals. For a team that finished last season with the ninth-best offense (2.80), what’s happening now is a significant drop-off.
On the bright side, they’ve improved their goals-against from 26th (2.94) to 15th (2.56), and their penalty killing (3rd, 88.5%) has been excellent. Stopping goals — not scoring them — is how they’ve managed to stay afloat in the standings.
But after bringing in Boucher to replace Dave Cameron, Ottawa remains among the worst possession teams in the league. The Sens’ 10-7-1 record is thanks in large part to goalie Craig Anderson (8-4-1, .928), and to a lesser extent backup Mike Condon (2-1-0, .943). The team has only won seven games in regulation or overtime, with a league-high three victories coming in the shootout.
Certainly, the Sens had to be expecting more offense from Derick Brassard, the 29-year-old center they gave up young Mika Zibanejad to get from the Rangers. At the time of the trade, Ottawa GM Pierre Dion believed his team was getting “a better hockey player at this point in time.” But through 18 games, Brassard has just seven points (2G, 5A). Zibanejad, meanwhile, piled up 15 points (5G, 10A) before getting sidelined with a broken leg.
Make no mistake, Dorion is under pressure from ownership to make the playoffs. And if you don’t believe it, recall what Eugene Melnyk said at the end of last season, just prior to Cameron’s firing.
“The status quo would just get us there again next year,” Melnyk said, “and this team cannot survive not making the playoffs.”
Just last week Melnyk expressed his displeasure at the Senators’ attendance numbers.
“Running the Ottawa Senators is not an easy business,” he wrote in response to an editorial in the Ottawa Citizen. “Consider the fact that the team is currently eighth overall in the NHL and the second-best performing Canadian team, and yet we are far from sellouts at our home games.”
For Saturday’s loss to the Panthers, the announced attendance at Canadian Tire Centre was just 14,132.
The Sens return home for another tough game Thursday, this one against the visitors from Boston.
Ottawa’s leading scorers