We’re now through the first week of the Ottawa Senators’ 2016/2017 season, and so far, the team has shown more cause for worry than flashes of brilliance.
“But Adam, they’re 3-1-0 through four games, how can you say that?!
While that may be true, they BARELY eked out all of those wins. The divisional match-ups gainst the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens could have gone either way, and were hardly convincing victories in terms of dominance.
And in their other win, in front of a home crowd of just over 11,000 against Arizona (maybe we were trying to make the Coyotes feel like they were at home), if Mike Smith hadn’t have gotten hurt, the Coyotes would have had a very realistic chance at being able to complete a comeback. That 3-1-0 record could easily be 1-3-0, or even 0-4-0.
Here are my 3 takeaways from the Sens’ first week of NHL action:
Consistently Inconsistent; Ottawa Senators Week One Takeaways
Offense needs to continue coming from the guys who are supposed to produce offense
While it’s awesome that the likes of Ryan Dzingel (best name on the team, hands down), Tom Pyatt, and Chris Kelly are contributing to the offensive output, more goals need to consistently start coming from the guys who are paid to produce offense.
Erik Karlsson is leading the team in points again (obviously), but was held to zero shots against Detroit; as were Mark Stone and Derick Brassard. And although Mike Hoffman is leading the team in shots, and is playing well overall, he was held pointless up until the game versus Arizona, and still has only been able to register one point through four games against goalies not named Louis Domingue (sorry Louis).
Kyle Turris, Stone, and Bobby Ryan (who was a -1 in the 7-4 win over Arizona, but we can talk about that later) all were able to put up points in last night’s win, and the offensive outburst was a step in the right direction, but the scoring needs to continue to come from the top lines, with supplemental points coming from the other guys, rather than the other way around.
Defence needs to be faster (and just better)
Yes, Auston Matthews is a very talented hockey player, and will have a very prosperous career in the NHL, but letting him pot four goals in his very first game is a tad embarrassing. Especially considering the same Auston Matthews went out and played a Bruins team that held only him two shots on goal and 0 points in the Leafs’ following game. Quite the drop-off there.
As well, other than Karlsson, it seemed like the Sens aren’t able to keep up with the speed that other teams are bringing to the table. Against the Coyotes, Arizona was able to draw seven penalties, six of which were of the impediment variety (tripping, hooking, and interference). They had similar problem against the Wings on Monday night too (Darren Helm might be the fastest man alive). Fortunately for the Sens, Arizona wasn’t able to cash in on the opportunities like Detroit was, but it certainly could have gone in that direction if not for some stellar penalty killing, especially from Zack Smith and Pyatt.
If the Sens are to be successful moving forward under Guy Boucher‘s new playing style, they will have to find a way to combat teams who are faster and more skilled than they are. Which might prove to be difficult, as three of the Sens’ top-4 D-men aren’t exactly known for their speed (Cody Ceci, Marc Methot, & Dion Phaneuf).
Same old goaltending
In true Ottawa goaltending fashion, the current tandem of Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond is doing nothing to calm fans’ early season worries. Anderson has a wildly unspectacular GAA of 3.55 and a save % of .887 through the three games that he has played. Hammond played the full game in the Sens’ 5-1 loss to Detroit, and was shaky at best. He let in a weak goal in the first period that should have been a routine save with his glove hand, but instead was handcuffed by it and ended up bouncing off his glove and into the net. Anderson would let in an eerily similar weak goal a day later versus the Coyotes.
Ottawa has long been known as the graveyard where goalies go to die, and if the Sens are going to have any success this season, Anderson will have to be able to steal a few games for them (especially while the team is still trying to learn Boucher’s new system), and Hammond will need to be a much more dependable back-up. Granted, it is still early on in the season, but with Ottawa’s goaltending history, you can’t blame anyone for being a little nervous.
So, yes while the Sens might be sitting at 3-1-0 right now, and while there are certainly bright spots through the first four games, don’t be surprised if those wins start to slip away if the Sens continue to play in the same manner.