Ottawa Senators: Defensive Flaws Key Reason Behind Current Winless Skid

By Rick LaFitte
Ottawa Senators
Marc DesRosiers USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators are in the midst of a five-game winless streak as they prepare for a road date against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Senators head coach Paul MacLean was encouraged with the point they were able to secure in a 4-3 shootout loss Sunday against the visiting Dallas Stars. Bobby Ryan netted the game-tying goal with 10 seconds remaining in regulation, and MacLean felt his team was able to dig deep which is a good sign moving forward.

The Sens did get a scare in that contest when goalie Craig Anderson suffered a neck injury after a collision with Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin. Anderson is listed as day-to-day and didn’t make the trip to Columbus. Robin Lehner is a solid option to have between the pipes, and he will get the start against the Blue Jackets. He made a whopping 53 saves in a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders in his last start. Nathan Lawson has been called up on an emergency basis from the AHL’s Binghamton Senators.

The shot totals and the goals against are reasons why the club is mired in their current funk. On average this season, the team is surrendering 38.5 shots per game. That’s highest in the entire league. Ottawa’s surrendered 18 goals in their last four contests.

While General Manager Bryan Murray is confident the group has the talent to turn around a 4-6-4 start to the season, the wins won’t start coming again until they’ve shored things up defensively.

Erik Karlsson is having a terrific season offensively leading the team with 15 points. However, the talented defenseman can be a liability in his own end as he’s a minus-2 on the season. The rest of the group on the blue-line needs to pick it up and play a little tougher to make life easier for their netminders. Patrick Wiercioch has struggled at times in his second full season in Ottawa.

Up front, captain Jason Spezza has 14 points on the season but is a minus-5. Kyle Turris and Ryan have been solid in both ends of the ice. They’ve combined for 28 points between them and sit at plus-6 and plus-5 respectively.

Ottawa is slowly falling behind the pack in what shapes up to be a strong Atlantic division. It’ll take some extra grit and attention to detail when it comes to their defensive effort with more consistency to shake them out of their current doldrums.

Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports

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