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March Reflections

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A shortened but eventful month

Ottawa Senators v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

The reflections pieces are usually slated as a recap of the full month that came before, but given recent developments it felt appropriate to put a bow on things now. I ended the February reflections with this statement:

For me, March is the best month of the year, and I am hoping for some more excitement from the team or maybe a miracle of some sort (in the draft? new ownership?). Maybe some optimism after all.

While I still believe March is the best month of the year, this is certainly not the excitement I was hoping for. That being said, we did have a few games with some notable performances and some disappointments.

Record: 71 games played, 25-34-12 for 62 points and 30th in the NHL

March Record: 2-3-0

Home Record: 1-0-0 Road Record: 1-3-0

Pleasant Surprises

Jayce Hawryluk: One of the brightest spots of this season has been the fact that we get to see more of of the developing players in the Sens system. While a more stable roster is usually the norm, getting a look at what other players can bring to the team adds some intrigue. While Hawryluk has played eleven games this season, it was really the last five games he played that really showcased his potential. He scored his first goal as a Senator against the Pittsburgh Penguins to start off the month, and got his second goal on the very last game of the season against the Los Angeles Kings. Overall, he amassed four points in the last five games and put himself on the radar for a long-term opportunity. Not bad for a waiver-wire find.

Colin White: I have been extremely harsh on White all season long but he seemed to find a bit of his game this month. In the past five games, he recorded six points including a goal against the Anaheim Ducks. He was definitely trending in the right direction and hopefully if the games are coming back, he can continue his progress.

Craig Anderson: Many people believe this to be Anderson’s final season and while he can no longer maintain a starting position, I still believe he has a bit left in him. With Marcus Hogberg leaving the team for personal reasons, Anderson was asked to shoulder the majority of the workload this month. He responded with some fantastic games and left fans with a great farewell. While the loss against the Kings ended up being beneficial for the Sens, Anderson really did some exceptional work and deserved a win. If this is really the last game Andy plays in a Sens uniform, he provided us with one last great push.

Bright Spots

Anthony Duclair: There was a time when fans were starting to get worried about the Duke’s production. He took the league by surprise in the beginning of the season, and alongside his now former teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau cooled down with the new year. Injuries haven’t helped his case but this month, his production got a small boost including a goal against Pageau’s new and shiny team and adding two more assists against the San Jose Sharks. With 23 goals on the season, he has now surpassed his previous career high in goals (20 goals) and if the season had proceeded, he would have most certainly gotten the five more points he needed to break his career high in points. He’s a keeper and with a more stable season, we can most certainly expect more consistent production.

Brady Tkachuk: He seems to have inherited the same “annoy Drew Doughty” gene from his brother as evident from the game against the LA Kings which makes his already enjoyable style of play all the more satisfying. He notched five points in this month alone which included 3 goals to bring his season totals to 21 goals and a team leading 44 points. I am almost certain that he would have reached the 50 point mark by the end of the regular season but alas. It’s comforting to think that Tkachuk’s success is only going to continue to rise.

Chris Tierney: Maybe he isn’t the most flashy player on the team, but he certainly does find ways to contribute on a consistent basis. While he usually goes about unnoticed, his first overtime goal, against the San Jose Sharks, was worthy of some praise. He is currently leading the team in shorthanded goals and face-off percentage, and he’s also third on the team in assists.

Disappointments

Ron Hainsey: Not much has changed when it comes to Hainsey’s performance throughout this season. I think we keep waiting to see more from Hainsey but the truth is, this could be all he is at this stage of his career. He has averaged around 22 minutes per game and with no points in the past five games and not much else to impress, I don’t see a long future for Hainsey on this team unless the team is desperate to fill a spot.

Andreas Englund: I don’t usually like to put the younger players in the disappointment section but in a season where every call up is an opportunity to impress, Englund hasn’t done very well. He did have a point against the Kings but otherwise he has not been productive both offensively and defensively. It’ll be interesting to see where he fits long-term when all the injuries are cleared up and all the rising defense men in Belleville get their turn.

End of the season: It’s been a whirlwind of a season that we thought would merely end with a good draft position. Instead, we got an early suspension under the worst of circumstances and while sports is just another form of entertainment, many have felt the void it has abruptly left us with. At this point, nobody cares how or when this season will be completed; we all just want everyone to be safe. Nonetheless, seeing the NHL and other major sports seasons get suspended was maybe the first sign of how real this whole situation is.

More Thoughts:

  • Sens’ management rarely deserves praise, however, it is worth noting that they did react to potential loss of employee wages correctly. While Melnyk may have required immense pressure from the media and public to announce his compensation plan, he did eventually come through for both Senators and Belleville employees and for that I am truly grateful.
  • During the Kings recap, there was a discussion about how Thomas Chabot seems to get away with a lot of mistakes while a player like Nikita Zaitsev is treated like a scapegoat. To a certain degree, probably yes but just like Cody Ceci, the criticism of Zaitsev is usually warranted and maybe to a certain degree it does overshadow the instances where he does actually have good games. As for Chabot, is he having a phenomenal season? Absolutely not. Is he having to shoulder a lot more than most of his teammates? Nobody can disagree on that fact. He has committed to this team for a very long time and in the current state of the team, he is one of the constant reminders that this team can become a powerhouse in the near future with him being the cornerstone of this entire turnaround. As writers and fans, we probably have become guilty of trying to overprotect our most valuable assets, whether it’s clinging onto hope or it’s the fear of losing yet another beloved superstar.
  • The last game of the season was a late and entertaining game, the Sens made sure to make it worth it for the fans who stayed up late. The end result, while disappointing, had the real benefit of improving the team’s lottery odds. May this be the final season where we feel like a Sens loss is a good thing!
  • As for some of the other notable players, how did everyone feel about their March performance?

Poll

Who had an impressive March?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Thomas Chabot
    (8 votes)
  • 62%
    Bobby Ryan
    (77 votes)
  • 20%
    Connor Brown
    (25 votes)
  • 10%
    Other
    (13 votes)
123 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which player needed improvement in March?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Nikita Zaitsev
    (43 votes)
  • 21%
    Nick Paul
    (23 votes)
  • 24%
    Scott Sabourin
    (27 votes)
  • 14%
    Other
    (16 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now