Email Hotstove: After one month, is this what we expected?

The Silver Seven staff discuss their opinions on the Sens .500 start to the season.

Given the tumultuous offseason, I’ll be honest: I had no idea what to expect from the Senators in terms of their on-ice product, Guy Boucher’s coaching, how the fans would react in terms of putting bums in seats, and a host of other factors.

Many of you probably felt the same way! So, the staff decided to put together an email hotstove with a couple of burning questions that has been the topic of our discussions over the last month, and we’ll run the answers over the next few days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on our thoughts (and whatever else is on your mind after watching the team this month) in the comments.

Here’s question one:

After one month, the team is at an even 10 points, with a 4-4-2 record, a -4 goal differential, 6th in the Atlantic, and 3 points out of a playoff spot. Is this what you expected? If not, what’s different?

Ross: This is not what I expected. Though I didn’t expect the Sens to be the worst in the division (I had Detroit [currently in 29th] and Montreal [currently in 7th] pegged for that spot), I still predicted them being right at the bottom of the league. 25th is a little better than I expected, and they’re only a point or two behind a bunch of teams with games in hand. So far this team has been better than my admittedly low expectations.

Brad: Overall their record is about what I was expecting, maybe a point up. They started hotter than I thought, but the last few games have cooled down a bit. I am surprised that a .500 is only good for 25th, though

Spencer: They’re about where I expected them to be. I always understood the drama-seeking narrative that the Sens gave up a shot at Hughes but I never really believed they’d be in a spot where the first overall pick was actually attainable. I figured they’d finish the season around 25th and that’s where they are now. Who knows, maybe some hot goaltending and a few big performances from the stars of the team will lead them closer to 20th.

Ary: Is finishing outside the five the realistic “best case scenario”? Hard to imagine they’ll finish between 11-14th in the standings (which is where they’d need to be to not give up a T10 pick assuming that they aren’t making the playoffs).

Spencer: I’d say yes, finishing 5th-10th (in draft order) is all I can imagine from this season.

Brandon: I didn’t think Ottawa was going to be the absolute bottom of the barrel, though the possibility had definitely crossed my mind, but I have to say I’ve been a bit surprised. The high-tempo offensive style is very uncharacteristic of a Guy Boucher team, and has been fun to watch, despite surrendering upwards of 40 shots a game.

Beata: Yeah, I probably would have put the Sens a little lower in the standings, but I’m not that surprised about how they’ve done.

Colin: Considering that the Sens didn’t start bottoming out until November last year, I didn’t really have any expectations for where they’d be a month in. For now I’ll be judging them more on their on-ice play, which, if we’re looking past the first couple games, has been pretty abysmal. That was more expected.

Nada: Not really surprised. If anything I was kinda hoping they’d be be around 2 points higher — I assumed they’d start out of the gate all fired up which they did but maybe I thought it’d last longer. Still think they can finish 21-22 overall.

Ary: Yeah, I’m in agreement with our general vibe of “this is kinda where we thought they’d be, give or take a couple of standings points”. Are there certain things about their play that you weren’t expecting? I agree with Brandon that I never thought I’d ever see a 3-man forecheck from Guy Boucher. I was also pretty skeptical about the powerplay, not really believing in management talking it up in the offseason. However, it does look like the players have a defined role and set plan, and I haven’t minded the player usage overall.

Ross: That’s a good point Ary, that we’ve seen stylistic changes from Boucher. I will add, I think Boucher is a place-holder coach anyway. I think management expected at least this year to be a write-off, and realized there was no point in paying a second coach to come in and coach a team that wasn’t supposed to be good. It’s nice to see though that if he’s coaching for his NHL career, he’s willing to make some big changes to his style.

Nate: I mostly agree with what others have said already, I’m not totally surprised with where the Sens sit today but I’d also caution that at this point there doesn’t seem to be much hope of the team’s final record vastly exceeding expectations. The Sens are third from last in score-adjusted CF% and fifth-last in xGF% at 5v5. There’s a lot of luck that goes into determining individual game outcomes and teams can get hot (or cold) for longer stretches than you’d expect, but you can only outrun what you really are for so long. If the Sens are going to really surprise me, they’ll need to start carrying the play a lot more.

What do you think? Are the Sens where you expected to be in the standings?

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