Last night was a tough game to watch, even more so for fans at the arena. The players looked just as frustrated during the game and definitely in their post-game availabilities.
DJ Smith probably made things worse by stating that every line needs a “hard worker” insinuating that the top lines will be broken by mixing up the types of players. He also said had this gem to say after the game:
"There is only one way to win in this league... it's to grind. It doesn't matter how much skill you have." - D. J. Smith— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) January 22, 2023
At this point, he’s not only alienating the fanbase but also his best players. I can’t imagine a player like DeBrincat would be too pleased playing on a line with “hard-working” Gambrell.
This isn’t another “Fire DJ Smith” post because, at this point, it probably won’t happen with new ownership looming. That being said, after such high expectations this summer, how do you get the fans on board again? How do you get the players to settle down and find their groove? We can’t even get consistency for our goalies who both have struggled immensely due to Smith’s yo-yo strategy of their starts.
The trade deadline is coming up and Dorion is fighting for his career for next season which is worrisome. Does he just overpay with picks and prospects to try to salvage the season? Does he realize it might be better to just get rid of dead weight for next season? The problem is the issues with the roster have almost no trade value at this point but maybe bringing up some of the guys from Belleville is the true value behind getting rid of someone like Parker Kelly or Austin Watson.
Then there’s Alex DeBrincat who still needs an extension and we need him to believe Ottawa is the place to stay.
Some fans are even getting frustrated with the Captain saying he’s not always mature and he needs to be held accountable. Fair enough, but Tkachuk has elevated his game this season in a very noticeable manner and he has been a forceful impact more times than none. Do you want him to be held accountable? Well, that’s the coach’s job. Tkachuk is a young Captain, we knew that coming in and there will be a transition period before he fully matures into the role.
Thomas Chabot is another example where things took an unexpected turn for the worse. I don’t know if he’s dealing with a lingering injury or if he’s just not buying into this team’s system but his level of play has dropped significantly this season and that is very concerning considering our existing defensive woes.
Needless to say, injuries have been a huge factor this season but every team goes through that and manages to survive except the Sens. There isn’t much we can do there but rushing back a player like Josh Norris was definitely not the answer.
This season was supposed to be the one where the team starts to figure it out but somehow we just look like the same mess we’ve been in for the last few seasons. It’s nice to see players like Stützle and Sanderson excel but it really is overshadowed by the team’s overall direction at this point.
This season is long gone and it’s time to think ahead but as fans, what do you want to see happen next? Do you still think the Sens need to add to the team to make a final push for the playoffs or is it another tank season for the Sens?