Please join the Silver Seven staff and welcome Michaela as a writer!
1) Tough Times
Let's be honest, this was a tough week for Sens fans. Sure, there have probably been worse times in this team's history. But considering the change in outlook on this season from one week ago, it's safe to say this was one of the hardest weeks to be a Sens fan in a long time.
One week ago today, we had modestly optimistic playoff hopes. Things quickly went south on Saturday when the Senators gave up a 4-1 lead to the Montreal Canadiens only to lose in overtime. A loss is one thing, but this was a full system breakdown. And it was not easy to watch.
The week continued with a not-so-surprising loss to the Colorado Avalanche, followed by an embarrassing whooping from the New York Rangers. If you need to take a break from reading now, please go ahead.
While the team is not mathematically out of playoff contention yet, it's hard to have anything positive to say about our chances of seeing Senators hockey in May.
Like any Canadian fan base, we spent the last week debating what exactly is wrong with this team. Last year, the Sens made it to the second round of the playoffs, with a modest roster plagued by injury. This year, with a full-strength team, they haven't been able to retain the same "peskyness" that fans loved so much. Why did this happen? What did last year's team have that this year's doesn't?
Well, Daniel Alfredsson, for starters. But I think we've beaten that dead horse enough. This week I've heard every theory under the sun as to why the Sens are struggling so much:
- Too much confidence
- Not enough confidence
- Weak defence
- Young/inexperienced team
- Poor leadership
- Weak defence
- Inconsistent goaltending
- Oh, and weak defence
It's hard to boil everything down to one single problem. Personally, I think a combination of a young team and a drastic change in leadership has led to some very inconsistent play all over the ice. However, we have more than enough time to speculate over the next six months.
3) Robin Lehner
With Craig Anderson's injury, Robin Lehner was given the starting position recently. While most Sens fans look forward to times like this, where we get to see what Lehner is capable of, his recent starts are easy to forget.
Since Saturday's game, Lehner has posted a .860 SV% and a 3.33 GAA. It's fair to say this was a very rough week for him. This brings me to the more pressing issue with Lehner: His attitude.
No one was happy after that tying goal in Montreal, or the OT winner for that matter. You can say it was a blown call, but that won't change the outcome of the game. Lehner's outburst after the final goal of the game wasn't surprising. But was it too much? We've seen this from him before, and raved about his passion and inability to accept anything less than perfection. However, it's getting a little old.
Lehner's attitude has often been a sensitive subject among fans and the organization. He's hot headed and has a tendency to fly off the handle, as we saw on Saturday. Is it time for him to grow up? This doesn't mean he won't be a great goalie. It worked for Tuuka Rask. This could bring out the best in him. But I think he needs to get his emotions in check before he gets the starting position.
4) Tension within the organization
Speculation has been flying around recently about something fishy going on within the organization. For some reason, Paul MacLean switched the roles of assistant coaches Mark Reeds and Dave Cameron on Saturday night. This got people talking. Some say it was desperation, some say it was a decision made higher up in the food chain.
Shortly after, Brent Wallace appeared on TSN 1200's In The Box and gave his true thoughts on the morale of the team right now. He has heard the term "zoo" used internally, and said that "something isn't right" in the organization. He also indicated that Paul MacLean has been very tense as of late.
I don't really know what to make of all this. We know that the team isn't in the best financial position, putting stress on ownership. Melnyk's stress may be trickling down the pipe. But again, this is all speculation.
Brent went on to say that the worst thing that could have happened to the team was making it into the second round of the playoffs last year. It raised expectations, which this team has not been able to live up to. There were flashes of positivity in his interview though. He said he thinks that this rebuild is still on track, and that this year is normal compared to last year, which was an enigma.
That's a relief, I guess.
Ok, enough negativity. While it seems next to impossible to say anything positive about the past week, some Sens fans have found a way. SensChirp started the hashag #SensGood after the 8-4 loss to New York. It gave Sens fans an opportunity to shine some light on this team, and see the brighter side of things.
If you need to feel good about your team again, I suggest doing a little Twitter search for #SensGood. While we are on the subject of good things, I want to know your #SensGood thought. What is something that makes you feel good about the Ottawa Senators right now?