In the final installation of this year’s Sterling Predictions series, the staff take a crack at figuring out the big picture stuff for this season.
Will either of the Ottawa Senators’ power play or penalty kill finish in the top half of the league?
Ross: No. This team will be baaaaad. Both will be bottom-five in the league.
Colin: Nope, not even close. The power play is without Stone, Duchene and Dzingel, while the PK is coached by Jack Capuano, who has one of the league’s worst defensive track records.
Brandon: No, I don’t think so. Both stand to improve based with new systems, the power-play especially, but this is an Ottawa team that’s likely going to be hot garbage. Good special teams are usually the mark of a quality hockey club, so I don’t see it happening for the Senators.
Spencer: No, I think they’ll be bottom half in both.
Ary: Well, aren’t we an optimistic bunch? I’m displeased that the team didn’t try to be more creative with their coaching hires, because this could’ve been a cool time to try out new tactics in a year that is essentially a waste standings-wise. Special teams led by Davis Payne and Jack Capuano don’t do much for me in the way of inspiring success, and with new personnel on both fronts, I foresee the team finishing in the bottom-five in both.
Dewie: I will be the optimist here and say they do well on the PP thanks to some inspired play from the youngsters, but they’ll finish bottom 5 on the PK
nkb: I’m actually fairly optimistic about the power play. They won’t threaten the top 10, but finishing 12th or 13th wouldn’t surprise me at all. As long as Thomas Chabot is your PP quarterback, you’ve got a chance to be decent. As for the penalty kill, well, let’s not go there.
Will the Sens allow fewer goals than the league-most 301 they gave up last season?
Ross: No again. They will allow 324 this year.
Colin: Good lord, they allowed 301??? I think they’ll be slightly better, only because last year was so historically bad. Getting rid of Harpur and Ceci certainly helps, too.
Brandon: Perhaps slightly. Their defensive acumen at forward will help them keep the puck out of their end, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they still lead the league in goals against. Like I said, this team is not going to be very good.
Spencer: It’ll be close but I suspect they’ll have a marginally better season in this department. I’m going with 280 goals against.
Ary: I’d like to think that Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey are better than Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur, but I can also imagine a future where I regret typing those words when we reflect at the end of the year. They’ll finish somewhere in the 260 - 280 mark.
Dewie: Cody Ceci is gone, that combined with the experience of Hainsey and hopefully a better overall system will help. Let’s say 250.
nkb: The defense is going to be porous and Craig Anderson’s not getting any younger. 301 is a truly tremendous number of goals so they might not get all the way there, but something in the 280-290 range wouldn’t shock me.
Will the Sens finish last overall as so many have predicted?
Brandon: I sure hope so. I suspect their only competition will be Anaheim, Los Angeles and Edmonton, all of whom I expect to be terrible. As long as there’s a Top-2 pick at the end of this tunnel of crap, I’m happy.
Spencer: It’s going to be a dog fight (or the opposite of a dog fight... a fluffy bunny fight?) for the best odds at first overall in 2020. Yes, Ottawa will absolutely be in it but I don’t think the number of bad rosters around the league is talked about enough. If I’m a Kings fan, I am not looking forward to this season one bit. That roster looks REAL BAD on paper. The Oilers are also one medium-term McDavid injury away from being relegated to the AHL. I think the Sens have just as good a chance as either of those teams to finish last overall but if you’re making me pick... I do still think they win that race (to the bottom).
Ary: I predict they’ll do the Ottawa Thing and manage a better record in the year we’re all pining for them to finish last. I’m going to go with 28th overall.
Dewie: They will probably finish bottom 2 and lose the lottery draft.
nkb: You can be a very bad team and still not have a great chance to finish last. Sens will beat out the horrendous Detroit Red Wings and finish 30th.
What’s your prediction for the Sens’ final record?
Spencer: The Sens will be the first team in NHL history (don’t fact check this) to have identical records in back-to-back seasons. 29-47-6.
Ary: 33-40-9, for 75 points.
nkb: Put them down for 30-45-7, 67 points.
Now that you’ve heard from the staff, let’s hear from you. Where do you think the Sens will finish? Can they shore up their defense? Will their special teams help their cause?