It certainly hasn't been pretty.
The Ottawa Senators find themselves firmly in 5th place in the Eastern Conference with just 17 games left to play. They've done it by becoming the least scored upon team in the league, whereas last year they were 24th in that category.
They've turned into a low scoring team, 25th in the league with just 2.42 goals per game. This is compared to last year's team who scored 2.96 goals per game, good for 4th in the NHL.
Now the reasons for this are quite simple and quite obvious. The best and most dynamic players for the Senators, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson, have played a combined 15 games this year, and likely won't play any more than that. Even Milan Michalek, who scored 35 goals playing with Spezza last year, has played just 10 games. This has all been well documented.
The ability of Paul MacLean as a head coach has been praised due to the success without our top players, but I think what is the most impressive is how he has adapted to the loss by essentially changing the identity of this team.
Last year's crew was a 2 horse team. Spezza and Karlsson combined for 162 points with 84 and 78 respectively. Their linemates and powerplay friends Daniel Alfredsson and Milo had 59 and 60 respectively to round out the top 4.
Next was Nick Foligno with 47 points. He was 5th on the team and had about half of Spezza's points. The drop off after Foligno is quite remarkable, and the "bottom six" really weren't well represented on the scoresheet too often.
This year is a bit of a different story, the Senators top point getter (as of writing, Sergei Gonchar) sits 77th in league scoring. Lee Stempniak has more points. But the top point getters on the club are much more closely bunched. 5 players have between 6-8 goals to lead the team. It is happening by committee, which is a big change from last year, and that makes Paul MacLean look very very good.
- Sens lost a heartbreaker to the Bruins last night. Would have loved to see them hold on 64 more seconds for at least a point, but what can you do. Here are a couple recaps. [SSS] [Warren] [SCOC]
- If you are as hardcore as we are about the Senators, you'll love this weekly feature with Josh updating us on the Elmira Jackels. [SSS]
- Post Mortem and some quotes from Coach, Guillaume Latendresse and Kaspars Daugavins [SE]