Every time you get the feeling the Ottawa Senators are about to turn the corner, they continue to revert back to their stumbling ways. A recent exciting come-from-behind home triumph over the Boston Bruins put the team above .500, and many thought it would be a springboard to better things. However, since then, the team has dropped consecutive contests against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild.
The 4-3 loss against the Wild was one of the rare games this season where the Senators actually recorded the opening goal. Kyle Turris scored a short-handed marker after taking a spectacular between-the-legs pass from Clarke MacArthur. However the buzz and energy was lost less than a minute later when Jason Pominville tied the contest. A back-and-forth affair saw Mikko Koivu deliver the game-winning dagger for the Wild as he scored with less than three minutes left in regulation. The Sens find themselves a mediocre 8-10-4 on the season and in need of a surge sitting outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The team continues to be dogged by slow starts and not being strong enough in their defensive zone. Relying on a young defensive core has produced mixed results. Erik Karlsson is leading the team with seven goals and 15 assists, but remains a liability at times in his own end. Blueliners Patrick Wiercioch, Jared Cowen and Marc Methot have all struggled at times this season.
The team’s shoddy defensive work has made life tough for netminders Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner as they face high-quality scoring chances against on a nightly basis. Anderson has struggled since returning from a recent neck injury. He’s just 1-3 and has allowed four or more goals in those three defeats.
Head coach Paul MacLean is undoubtedly as frustrated as anyone these days with his club’s trend of taking a few steps back each time they seem to be headed in the right direction. With the season already past the quarter mark, it’s incumbent that he somehow push the right buttons to get his team performing at a high level on a more consistent basis. If that doesn’t happen, a highly-anticipated season in Ottawa could wind up being a disappointing one.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL writer for Rant Sports