For the second year in a row, the Ottawa Senators have proven to us that believing in this team to make the play-offs is a risky proposition. At the start of this campaign, the staff was unanimous in delivering the verdict that yes, finally, the Sens were going to qualify for the post-season. The exact question before us in October was:
The Sens have gotten off to a horrible start in every season under DJ Smith. Is this the year that they finally make it out of the first few months in the play-off hunt? Does DJ keep his job past Christmas? What will their record be at the end of the year? And, most importantly, do the Sens finally make it to the postseason?
What Did We Predict Would Happen?
Though Nada correctly believed that DJ Smith would lose his job before the month of January, even she thought that the team would recover from her projected slow start in time to make the play-offs. As of this writing, it would take a minor miracle for that to be the case. Even the least optimistic staff members had the Sens cracking the mid-90's for points, a feat that would require Ottawa to go something like 25-5-5 the rest of the way. It sure looks like we are all going to be dead wrong in a big way.
Okay, So Now What?
Well that's the biggest question facing the organization, now isn't it? Everything leading into 2023-24 was designed with the premise that this group would, at the very least, be fighting for the play-offs. There was no plan B!
With the team struggling so badly for much of the year, a lot of chatter has turned to the trade deadline. Barring the previously mentioned miracle, the Sens would be best served by trying to move a few non-core pieces (see Tarasenko, Vladimir and Kubalik, Dominik) for some picks and/or prospects. There has been some talk of putting one of the much-ballyhooed top four in a trade. I'm not a fan of the idea personally, but it very well could happen and, in the right context, could potentially help the long term outlook. At the very least, the main goal of the remainder of this season should be figuring out what has to be done so that next year doesn't finish like this one.
Okay, But What if the Sens Go on a Huge Run?
Look, they've been better under Jacques Martin, but 25-5-5 is a near impossible bar to clear. They're not doing it! The hole is too deep!
Far be it for me to be too optimistic about this team, but as I sat down to write this piece I just kept coming back to the Hamburglar run of 2015 – a supposed once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Is it too greedy of me to hope for something similar this year? One has to admit that the idea of the team's greatest icon, Daniel Alfredsson, returning to save us from disaster has a lot of narrative appeal.
So yeah, call me naïve, I can't even say I disagree. But after so many years of having nothing to hope for, in some small recess of my mind I'm still hoping for the impossible this year.
Besides, I'd like to be right about one of these predictions for once in my life.