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Sterling Predictions Re-Visited: Part 4

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Our final look back at our incorrect predictions

Ottawa Senators v Calgary Flames
Are these the two biggest reasons for this year’s failure?
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

We finish our look back at our predictions, looking at what we thought the team’s record would be. The Senators finished 28-43-11, the 67 points being good enough for 30th in the league. Needless to say, none of us predicted the team to be that bad. Also below, check out the final tally for our predictions on the season.

Q: 6/8 of us had the Sens making the playoffs, but even Trevor predicted the Sens would get 88 points and just barely miss. Nobody saw this 67-point season coming (though Colin did comment the Sens could finish top of the Atlantic or bottom-five in the league). In a couple sentences, what went wrong this year? Were there any warning signs last season that could’ve hinted at this disastrous season? Do you have any hope for this team making the playoffs next year?

Ross: The biggest thing that went wrong was goaltending, as I’m sure everyone will agree. This team was outshot and outchanced last year, especially when Erik Karlsson was off the ice, but Craig Anderson kept the team in games. This year, The System looked awful because Andy was really really bad. I think this team can make the playoffs next year, mostly because they seem to have settled into a rhythm of one year in, the next year out, when it comes to playoffs.

Trevor: To put it simply, almost everything went wrong this season. The special teams were horrendous, the defense has always been sub-par, and the offense just doesn’t have enough depth. Most importantly though, the goaltending was the worst I’ve ever seen it, and no skaters are going to be able to make up for that. There were definitely warning signs from last season, although I didn’t think they’d be able to truly bottom out with Erik Karlsson still on the roster. Their poor possession stats and amazing record in one-goal games made me weary, but I’d be lying if I said I thought they’d be this bad. As for the playoffs next year, they definitely have a chance, it just depends on if Karlsson stays and if Craig Anderson can bounce back. It’s that simple.

Beata: I’ll echo what Trevor said. It was a combination of factors. The goaltending was probably the biggest factor, but you can’t just point to that and say definitively that the Sens would have made the playoffs with different goalies. Player usage was awful too. Methot’s absence reminded us how thin the defense is. The forward depth wasn’t great either. MacArthur’s absence was felt. A few star players - especially Erik Karlsson - underperformed. I think there were definitely warning signs last year, especially in regards to depth on defense and forward and quality of our goaltending. Even Boucher’s lineup decisions were admittedly questionable at times even when the team was doing well. We definitely overlooked a lot of those warning signs because the team was on such a good run, and I definitely don’t blame the fans for doing that, but I do kind of blame management. It’s their job to look critically at this team and figure out where they can make improvements, so it’s very frustrating to see them naively believe that everything is going to work out perfectly just like it did last year. As for making the playoffs next year... sure, why not? This is the NHL. I’m not optimistic, but if certain players perform well, and the team gets lucky, anything can happen.

Spencer: I think it’s fair to say virtually everything went wrong this season. “The System” didn’t work, goaltending was awful, Karlsson started out the year at less than 100%, neither Karlsson nor Stone played a full, healthy season, player deployment was pretty awful and special teams were a special kind of bad for a team with offensive weapons like Karlsson, Duchene, Hoffman and Stone. There were definitely warning signs that this season wouldn’t go as well as last but I don’t think even the most hardcore, irrational Leafs/Habs fans could’ve honestly said Ottawa would be the second worst team in the league this year. That being said, even when the Senators were winning playoff games last spring, they weren’t outshooting or out chancing their opponents. More often they’d win despite being outshot. But we were getting the results so a lot of people, myself included, expected something great this season. For my playoff prediction: If there’s no Erik Karlsson, there’s no chance at playoffs, in my opinion. But with a healthy, motivated #65? Anything is possible.

Colin: A lot went wrong, and I think we’ve dwelled on that plenty. I still have some optimism for the team moving forward, just because the core pieces they currently have should theoretically be enough to at least get them into the playoffs. Duchene, Hoffman and Stone are top forwards. Erik Karlsson is Erik Karlsson. We know this team has the ability to turn it up a notch and make some damage. Goaltending is my biggest concern, as too many times around the league have we seen a great team fall out of the wild card race because their ‘tender couldn’t stop a puck *cough*Carolina*cough*. However, if management can get things together, Ottawa should almost definitely have a better record than 2017-18, and possibly combat behind the Atlantic’s big three (Tampa, Boston, Toronto) for a wild card spot.

NKB: This season was such a disaster so early on that it feels like we’ve been debating the causes of the collapse for months now. There were some warning signs, it’s hard to be a consistently good NHL team while getting outshot as badly as the Sens have for the last 18 months, but the complete collapse of Craig Anderson (and to a lesser degree, Mike Condon) still counts as something of a surprise. Karlsson was also not quite himself until it was too late, and before his strong finishing kick Matt Duchene struggled badly to find the back of the net upon first arriving in Ottawa. So where does that leave us? Karlsson (if he returns) and Duchene should be themselves again but the goaltending situation is a seemingly intractable problem: Anderson will be 37 to start next season and is signed to a multi-year contract. Mike Condon is a mediocre back-up. It may seem reductive to narrows everything down to goaltending, but without it this team is sunk. If the Sens are going to be good again any time in the near term, they’ll need one of Gustavsson or Hogberg to turn out. Goalie prospects are notoriously fickle, to boot. Keep your fingers crossed, friends.

Final Standings

1. Trevor - 6 points
2/3. Beata/Colin - 5 points
4-7. Callum/Ary/Ross/Readers - 4 points
8/9. Spencer/NKB - 3 points