No one claimed this season would be an easy one for the Ottawa Senators. Expectations were tempered from the outset, knowing the club had to skate through a gauntlet of six Canadian teams, better known as the North Division.
However, Senators’ fans and management alike were probably not prepared for a complete free fall either.
The team opened with a thrilling come-from-behind 5-3 victory over the Maple Leafs, which now seems as if it was eons ago. The Senators have since gone winless in nine games (0-8-1), and are zero for six in the midst of a seven-game road swing, which concludes Thursday at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Making matters even more daunting for the slumping Senators, the Canadiens have lost only one game in regulation out of their last 10 to date in the 2021 campaign.
During the off-season, General Manager Pierre Dorion added size in defenseman Josh Brown, Braydon Coburn, Erik Gudbranson; brought in established forwards, Evgenii Dadonov, Alex Galchenyuk, Cedric Paquette, Derek Stepan, Austin Watson; acquired a two-time Stanley Cup winning netminder in Matt Murray; also inked-man Artem Zub from the KHL.
It’s safe to say at this point, several of the GM’s moves haven’t panned out as planned. And in the case of Murray, it’s worrisome, due to the team signing the 26-year old to a four-year, $25 million deal.
The former Penguins’ goalie currently sports an abysmal 4.82 goals-against average and .849 save percentage. And is showing no signs of breaking out of his slump.
A frustrated D.J. Smith made it clear after Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Oilers, it was the veteran players who weren’t pulling their weight.
Forwards Logan Brown and Alex Formenton may also be on the radar to join the NHL roster sooner than later. However, Dorion likely has to make more moves up front to facilitate one or both of these additions.
One thing that can be learned from this poor start to the season, the Senators are certainly in good hands for the future. The young core has shown they don’t need to be shielded by veteran players.
Selected third overall, Tim Stützle comes as advertised, a creative, speedy player who has a sneaky dangerous shot.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 3, 2021
Josh Norris is on his way to a solid NHL career. Drake Batherson is in the league to stay. And Colin White seems to have found his game after a few games of sitting on the sidelines.
In just two appearances, Artem Zub has impressed on the back end. The 25-year old Russian not only has assists in both games, but he’s also played solid defense. Smith told Full Press NHL Sunday, he needed to “look at rolling him out more.”
In addition, d-man Christian Wolanin is potentially slated to return this weekend but may require a couple of practices prior to re-entering the lineup.
There’s no question the Senators are squarely behind the eight-ball when it comes to wins and losses. However, fans of the team will be more forgiving if the club allows their young guns to play.