Now that we’re halfway through the season, we can probably get a better assessment for how this season will shape up. While there is still a lot of hockey left to play, it’s safe to say the Senators will probably not finish very far ahead of last place.
The next month and a half will be crucial in regards of personnel as the future of Captain Mark Stone will probably become clear. With the upcoming trade deadline, you can also expect some movement of other personnel including players like Smith and/or Dzingel if they decide to move on from him.
The second quarter of the season was not friendly for the Sens, and we saw some of the worst hockey we’ve seen played in a long time. Injuries to key players just made matters worse, and Boucher’s head-scratching coaching decisions failed to compensate for any adversity this team has faced.
- Marcus Hogberg: While he’s only played 3 games, he has shown some potential to get excited about. His numbers are completely unfair to the actual work he’s been doing. The goalie situation is a bit confusing at the moment especially with the recent trade that brought in Anders Nilsson. No matter how things shape up in net for the rest of the season, it’s safe to say that Hogberg is definitely on the right path of development.
- Mark Stone: I don’t understand how Stone doesn’t have a contract extension by now. He has become the cornerstone of anything and everything good about this team. He is leading the team in goals (19) and points (45) but his effect goes farther than that. Every time he’s on the ice, the team has a chance to get something done. He has the ability to make any player around him better and his takeaways are on an elite level. At the end of the day though, I think we can all agree the thing that makes him worth any money he demands is that collection of goal celebrations he has amassed.
- The social media: It’s been a hard season for Sens fans and as games get more frustrating to watch, it’s nice to have something to remind us why we still love this team. A series of social media initiatives such as the road trip videos, the Christmas movie auditions and the team puppy have all been a welcome distraction. It also gives us some appreciation for guys like Dylan DeMelo who is winning many fans around this city. All in all, this roster is filled with new faces who we still haven’t fully connected with and the Sens are doing a great job creating a relationship with this new generation of the Sens.
- Bottom 6: The offense on the team is not to blame for the recent lousy performance however the depth on the team is concerning. Outside the top two lines that consistently include Stone, Duchene, Tkachuk, and White, there are a lot of floaters on the team. Players like Paajarvi and Pyatt have not been contributing and have only been taking roster spots from prospects that deserve a chance on the team.
- Cody Ceci: in all fairness, the entire defense group (Chabot and DeMelo aside) have been terrible, but Cody Ceci is just at another level. I do realize it’s redundant, but Ceci is getting worse as the season goes by. He now costs us games with his lack of awareness and constant bad decisions. Here’s the thing, Cody Ceci can be a decent player for this team, and I want him to do well. We have seen what a good game by Ceci looks like, against the Caps, and it would be nice to see more of that performance. The problem is, Ceci cannot handle the ice time he’s getting, and he surely doesn’t deserve the money he’s making. While at this point, the defense is thin with very few options; it’s still incredibly frustrating to see some good games going to waste because of a few avoidable mistakes by Ceci. I will reiterate that the entire defense group deserves criticism, but I think most can agree that Ceci stands out.
- Injuries: when things go wrong for the Sens, it just pours. The past 21 games, the Sens have dealt with injuries to Duchene, Anderson, Chabot, Jaros, and Falk. The Anderson injury, in particular, has put a dent on the team especially with Chabot being out at the same time. Injuries are nobody’s fault, but I can’t help to think this team should be able to better deal with adversity at this point.
- Coaching: I realize I had issues with the coaching in the first quarter, but it seems it has only gotten worse. From the over-utilization of Tom Pyatt (formerly) to the line combinations that have at times made no sense; it’s beyond frustrating. Ryan Dzingel was on the fourth line at one point, brief but it shouldn’t have happened. Nick Paul has proven that he can be more serviceable than 2-3 players on the team yet he’s barely getting a fair chance to prove himself. All in all, Boucher seems like a lost man and the team is responding with performances that are reflecting no cohesion or focus.
- Honestly, the majority of December has been enraging to watch. Injuries aside, this team has no direction, no focus and no real commitment to winning. Players like Stone and Duchene go out every night with performances that are catching the attention of the rest of the league. Why would they sign extensions here? What is it that the Sens can offer them to stay? The Senators have not only become an unattractive location for free agents but probably for current players as well. That being said, we have half a season ahead of us, and maybe January will bring along better fortunes.
- It’s never fair to celebrate a player being waived and/or traded but the Tom Pyatt trade was well overdue. I wish him the best of luck, but I can without a doubt say, he will not be missed here.
- Mike McKenna has become a famous name in Ottawa, and it’s unfortunate that he’s been part of 3 different teams the past two days. More importantly, this has been extremely tough on his family. He was claimed by the Flyers today, and I genuinely hope he gets some stability there until the end of the season.
- Thomas Chabot is an all-star! I am incredibly excited to see him showcased to the rest of the league, maybe someone will finally realize that he truly belongs in the top league defensemen conversation.
- Mark Stone is the Sens candidate for the last man standing for the NHL All-Star. While I doubt we can compete with the voting of Habs and Leafs fans, how cool would it be if we could send him along with Chabot? It takes 2 mins to cast 10 votes every 24 hours so what are you waiting for?
Here are my top-3 videos from the second quarter of the season:
Poll of the Quarter:
Mark Stone extension negotiations are expected to start soon, what’s the maximum $ amount you would give him?
This poll is closed