The goal was to get through this season and remain competitive as best they could, especially performing in a division containing six clubs that all played some sort of postseason games in the summer.
After surpassing the halfway juncture of the season, the core results are certainly not where the club would like them to be.
There’s been a handful of exciting victories – among them, being victorious in their opener versus the Maple Leafs, There was Brady Tkachuk scoring with 8.1 seconds remaining for the win over the Jets. And no one will soon forget the Senators’ miraculous comeback victory in Toronto after trailing 5-1.
But there’s also been plenty of duds. The team has allowed eight goals once and given up seven on four occasions in only 29 matches. The Senators’ record is a paltry 9-19-1, which includes an abysmal 4-14-1 against Western Canadian clubs.
Special teams haven’t been special. The Senators power play currently sits 27th league-wide, this despite peppering the fourth-most shots on goal per game (31.6) and most PP opportunities (98). Their penalty kill ranks 25th.
They’ve allowed a league-high 3.97 goals per game. Netminder Matt Murray has yet to find consistency with his new team, possessing a 3.66 Goals Against Average, .885 Save Percentage.
Despite these foibles, the Senators’ main goal this season was for the identified core of Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, Colin White to gain one more year of experience and grow their games on and off the ice.
Another was to phase youngsters Drake Batherson, Erik Brannstrom, Josh Norris, Tim Stützle into the lineup.
To this extent, the organization’s plan has been moderately successful.
Batherson, Norris, and Stützle are performing above expectations.
Batherson recently held a six-game scoring streak and seven-game point streak. His nine goals in 28 games are more than his previous two stints with the Senators’ combined (six goals in 43 games).
Norris and Stützle are tied for second in NHL rookie scoring (15 points each). Norris possesses a hockey acumen of a wily veteran. Stützle lifts fans out of their seats, at least off their couches with his dazzling array of moves.
There may have been a few bumps in the road for White and Brannstrom.
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White was a healthy scratch on four occasions prior to solidifying his spot. Hopefully, his lower-body injury suffered Wednesday doesn’t set him back. He’s deemed out day-to-day. While Brannstrom who missed the bulk of training camp due to Covid-19 contact tracing and a minor injury, finally made his way to the main roster after spending time skating with the team’s American League group. Though Brannstrom is not a regular fixture game-to-game, he’s displaying of glimpses of being able to push play from the back end.
In addition, the off-season signing of Russian d-man Artem Zub has been a godsend for General Manager Pierre Dorion. Since entering the Senators’ lineup January 31, the 25-year old has been the team’s best defenseman not named Thomas Chabot. And forward Nick Paul is finally forging a niche in his sixth pro season.
So, all is not lost on the Senators’ performance as a whole.
The second half of the season will likely bear witness to more starts for budding rookie goalie Joey Daccord. Speedy winger Alex Formenton will likely make his way to the parent team from Belleville. Logan Brown may see some games. While fans patiently wait for the University of North Dakota duo of centre Shane Pinto and right-shot defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker to conclude their collegiate season. And who knows if Senators 2020 fifth overall selection Jake Sanderson will join them?
This season has been far from perfect for the Senators. However, in a season without fans in the building, it’s more about finding pieces and preparing for future “unparalleled success”