Things looked ugly for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, even beyond the 5-0 margin of defeat at the hands of the increasingly legit Winnipeg Jets.
Earlier this season, an opening 5-1-5 record looked odd; now it looks closer to glorious. The Senators have now lost eight of their last nine games, and tonight’s drubbing probably could have been uglier, as the Jets didn’t need to do much after making it 5-0 in the second period.
The shot count was about as lopsided as the score (49-21), as Winnipeg made Ottawa pay dearly for mistakes, going 3-for-5 on the power play. You know things are bad when:
1. Patrik Laine doesn’t feel the need to celebrate a goal all that much.
2. You get the classic “fan throws jersey onto the ice in disgust” treatment, as PHT’s Scott Billeck notes:
3. People start calling for your coach’s head, which seems especially weird since Guy Boucher’s mostly received ample credit for making lemonade out of lemons with this hit-or-miss Senators roster.
And, to think, Boucher joined Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson on the list of reasons that the Senators were a goal away from the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. At least it’s a change of pace from coaches getting run out of town soon after their name was chiseled onto the Jack Adams Award, I guess.
One can imagine a wide variety of people taking on the blame during these tough times. Fair or not, Duchene will absorb some of the heat, as the Senators have won more games in Sweden (two) with him so far than they have in North America (one). Others will eye Boucher or GM Pierre Dorion, and so on.
Either way, it’s some ugly stuff …
… And it’s going to take some serious effort to stop the bleeding. Take a peek at what lies ahead for the struggling Senators:
Wed, Dec 6 @ Anaheim
Thu, Dec 7 @ Los Angeles
Sat, Dec 9 @ San Jose
Tue, Dec 12 @ Buffalo
Wed, Dec 13 vs NY Rangers
Sat, Dec 16 vs Montreal
Tue, Dec 19 vs Minnesota
Thu, Dec 21 @ Tampa Bay
Sat, Dec 23 @ Florida
Wed, Dec 27 @ Boston
Even in the case of those home games, fan unrest could really escalate. One can wager that a weak performance against the (currently red-hot) Canadiens would raise the discontent to uncomfortable volumes.
Then again, the Senators’ best moments have often come when they’ve enjoyed unlikely successes. They’ve maintained playoff runs with Erik Karlsson on the shelf. Again, few expected them to do damage in the last postseason, let alone put the Pittsburgh Penguins’ repeat run at such a great risk of ending.
Of course, it’s often easy to remember the moments of triumph while the blander, on-script falls to the odds slip from your memories.
Duchene, Boucher, Karlsson, and the rest of the Senators have some work to do to keep their 2017-18 campaign from slipping to irrelevance.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.