Let's face it: this is not the start any of us wanted. The team is struggling to find consistency, is outside the playoff picture and constantly plays games with an urgency level that...well...isn't urgent at all. There have been few silver linings to the season (Karlsson, Lehner, the MacTurrAn line, and I guess Borowieki?). That's not a whole lot to be happy about as a Senators fan these days.
The team's uninspired play has led to constant trade rumors, a goalie controversy, Nat so much! (*Read in Borat voice*) and suggestions from the mainstream media that this team is missing a certain former captain. Spezza's leadership has been called into question (not by all, but by some) and the speculation on his future with the club has already begun.
As I was sitting there, wallowing in my sorrow, hearing about the spare parts we offered for Del Zotto (If anyone is surprised the Rangers didn't want a combination of Gryba/Greening/Condra, then you should go blow yourself up) it finally hit me why this season story sounded so familiar.
It was the year 2006.
The Ottawa Senators had just gone through an off season that saw some notable changes:
The team countered with resigning he of the puck moving defenseman variety, Wade Redden. Goaltender Martin Gerber was brought in to be the starter until Ray Emery was ready for the #1 role, and Joe "I'll be back" Corvo was brought into the fold. Also new to the team was defenseman Tom "Plus/Minus" Preissing who was acquired in the Smolinski/Havlat/Hennessy deal.
With the team making some personnel changes, there were questions as to what the on ice product would look like.
Twenty-four games into the season, things weren't looking good:
G1: OTT 4 - TOR 1 (1-0-0)
G2: TOR 6 - OTT 0 (1-1-0)
G3: BUF 4 - OTT 3 (1-2-0)
G4: CGY 1 - OTT 0 (1-3-0)
G5: OTT 3 - MTL 2 (2-3-0)
G6: COL 2 - OTT 1 (2-4-0)
G7: NJ 1 - OTT 8 (3-4-0)
G8: OTT 6 - TOR 2 (4-4-0)
G9: TOR 2 - OTT 7 (5-4-0)
G10: OTT 1 - BOS 2 (5-5-0)
G11: OTT 2 - MTL 4 (5-6-0)
G12: CAR 3 - OTT 2 (5-7-0)
G13: OTT 3 - WAS 4 (OT) (5-7-1)
G14: OTT 4 - ATL 5 (5-8-1)
G15: OTT 6 - PIT 3 (6-8-1)
G16: OTT 3 - BOS 4 (6-9-1)
G17: MTL 6 - OTT 3 (6-10-1)
G18: OTT 4 - BUF 2 (7-10-1)
G19: OTT 2 - NJ 3 (7-11-1)
G20: BUF 1 - OTT 4 (8-11-1)
G21: MIN 3 - OTT 5 (9-11-1)
G22: OTT 3 - PHI 2 (10-11-1)
G23: OTT 6 - FLA 4 (11-11-1)
G24: OTT 1 - TB 3 (11-12-1) (November 26th, 2006)
Through 24 games played, the team was limping with a record of 11-12-1. Not a great start by any means. The team was inconsistent, was losing games it should have been winning and captain Alfredsson's name began to run through the rumor mill.
Sound familiar? I thought so too.
Here's how your 2013-2014 Senators fair in comparison:
G1: OTT 1 - BUF 0 (1-0-0)
G2: OTT 4 - TOR 5 (SO) (1-0-1)
G3: OTT 3 - LA 4 (OT) (1-0-2)
G4: OTT 2 - SJ 3 (1-1-2)
G5: OTT 1 - ANA 4 (1-2-2)
G6: OTT 4 - PHX 3 (OT) (2-2-2)
G7: NJ 2 - OTT 5 (3-2-2)
G8: EDM 3 - OTT 1 (3-3-2)
G9: OTT 6 - DET 1 (4-3-2)
G10: ANA 2 - OTT 1 (4-4-2)
G11: SJS 5 - OTT 2 (4-5-2)
G12: OTT 5 - CHI 6 (4-6-2)
G13: NYI 5 - OTT 4 (SO) (4-6-3)
G14: DAL 4 - OTT 3 (SO) (4-6-4)
G15: OTT 4 - CBJ 1 (5-6-4)
G16: MTL 1 - OTT 4 (6-6-4)
G17: FLA 2 - OTT 3 (7-6-4)
G18: PHI 5 - OTT 0 (7-7-4)
G19: BOS 2 - OTT 4 (8-7-4)
G20: CBJ 4 - OTT 1 (8-8-4)
G21: OTT 2 - PHI 5 (8-9-4)
G22: MIN 4 - OTT 3 (8-10-4)
G23: OTT 4 - DET 2 (9-10-4)
G24: OTT 1 - CAR 4 (9-11-4) (November 24th, 2013)
Through the first 24 games of this season, the team has not faired much better. More OT/SO losses but the records are similar. Two-three game winning streaks here, two-three game losing streaks there, blowout victories here, blowout losses there. Inconsistency is a recurring theme.
As of December 21st, 2006, about a month later than the games previously mentioned, the Ottawa Senators had a record of 17-18-1. They were on the wrong side of the playoff picture and had played five games short of half the season.
Something changed that special December 21st morning.
The team would have a record of 31-7-8 from that point on and qualified as the fourth seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
There has been a lot of negativity around here and a lot of it is warranted. We all care about this team more than we should but they are our passion. When they win, we're happy, when they lose, we're not.
The point of this post is just to remind everyone that it is not all doom and gloom. While it would take an unbelievable turn around (like the one we saw in 2006-2007) there is still time in the season to right the ship.
I would take a roster of Bobby Ryan, Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris, Erik Karlsson, Clarke MacArthur, Mika Zibanejad, Milan Michalek and Craig Anderson/Robin Lehner over a team with Heatley, Spezza, Alfredsson, Fisher, Comrie, Schaeffer, Vermette and Gerber/Emery.
This is a good team, and while they may not have played like it consistently yet, I still have a little glimmer of hope that I hope you guys have too.
Think about the two clubs...are there any other similarities you guys have noticed?