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SportsSENATORS: A Week in Review

SENATORS: A Week in Review

SENATORS: A Week in Review

SENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators hockey written by OLMSports Dave Gross.


Feature photo Courtesy NHLI via Getty Image

Do the Ottawa Senators actually have the ability to win another game before this horror show of an NHL season gets mercifully buried six feet under on April 7th?

Of course they will (right?), but there's no doubt Ottawa's become hockey's version of the Washington Generals.

(The Generals - for the uninitiated - were a notorious bunch of basketball misfits that provided wins for the Harlem Globetrotters in exhibition play. . . Game after game, year after year.)

Game after game, Ottawa seemingly supplies the same amount of certainty.

Also, it's no longer become a case of 'bad bounces' or untimely misfortune as could be argued when this current, unending slide started to take flight back in November.

The Senators are simply a step or two slower than the opposition (no more was that in evidence than the last two losses versus Boston and St. Louis) and just look, well, second-rate.

Cue the cliché and apologists offering: "Well, it's not like they're not trying their best."

Really?

Sure, confidence and a lack thereof is playing a role. Losing can suck the life out of you, and boy has there ever been a lot of that lately.

But I question the effort level.

When's the last time you watched a Senator forward crash the net? Drop the mitts to get his team charged? Dig extra hard for a takeaway along the boards?

It's just not happening, with any regularity.

In Ottawa's final game (Thursday night) before this past weekend's all-star break, TSN colour man Jamie McLennan pointed out the obvious: "The Senators are taking on water as this game goes on."

That's a constant.

The loss to the charging Boston Bruins made it five in a row, and the manner in which they're losing is more and more troubling.

Even when the game against the B's was tied near the halfway point of the third period, did you honestly get the sense that Ottawa was going to pull this one out of the fire?

Me neither.

Boston continued to come on (finishing with 44 shots on goal) while Ottawa sat back and tried not to lose.

Bad plan.

The poor quality of hockey is also surely putting general manager Pierre Dorion in a pickle (although many of you will say he put himself in this mess to begin with) as he tries to shift the dynamic of his hockey team.

A trade shake-up might be necessary, but realistically, what kind of return are you going to get on Zack Smith (33 games, three goals, -22) who's lost his edge and turns 30 in a couple of months, or on Derick Brassard whose 12 goals don't match up with the 18:24 of ice time he receives each night (and plays big power-play minutes).

Mike Hoffman at times looks so disinterested you'd swear he was stifling a yawn.

J-G Pageau might net you something - but he's one of the few you can generally depend on for a strong effort. Plus he's but 25 years of age, so you'd think Pageau's best years are ahead, not behind.

And the way Craig Anderson's season has progressed/regressed - plus given his age (37 in May) - the market wouldn't appear to be 'appealing.'

There's just not that much in the Senators' refrigerator that is triple-A beef.

This is going to be a very long and trying 35-game 'final stretch' for Johnny Senator fan.

NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS:  If there is one bright spot this season in Ottawa, shine it on winger Ryan Dzingel. The 25-year-old brings dedication and diligence pretty well every night. The team's 'stars' should take notice . . . If you think Erik Karlsson's gutting out a brutal season with a plus-minus of -24, he is overshadowed by fellow Swede Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Arizona who's plodding along at a league-worst -36 . . . Speaking on the Bruins, they headed into the all-star break on an 18-game point streak . . . Unfortunate, might be the only way to describe Buffalo defenceman Zach Bogosian's career to this point. The 27-year-old from nearby Massena, NY, suffered yet another hefty injury this past week (hip) and is done for the season. This after missing 25 games to start the season. The third-overall pick in the 2008 draft here in Ottawa (after Steven Stamkos then Drew Doughty) has missed a ton of hockey the last six seasons due to injury. The most games Bogosian's played in a season in that time frame? Sixty-four in 2015-16 . . . Pittsburgh's turnaround has a lot to do with the usual suspects, but don't overlook Phil Kessel's contributions. He's third in the league in scoring and is on pace for a 93-point season . . . Who's your MVP so far? Sure Nikita Kucherov, Stamkos, Nathan MacKinnon and John Tavares are getting much of the ink but don't count out Sidney Crosby who's bagged 20 points in 11 games since Jan. 1st . . . Only Buffalo could find a way to get hot at the wrong time. The Sabres are on a three-game win streak and are just two back of Ottawa for 29th (and four ahead of Arizona for last place). This during an upcoming draft that features wunder-kid Rasmus Dahlin, considered a generational blueliner . . . If Buffalo lands the second- or third-overall selection, I might suggest Boston University forward Brady Tkachuk. The Sabres desperately need swagger and confidence and grit. Calgary forward Matthew's little brother brings all that in spades . . . Former Senator Robin Lehner posted back-to-back shutouts for the Sabres last week.

THE WEEK AHEAD:

Tuesday, Jan. 30: Ottawa at Carolina (7pm)

Thursday, Feb. 1: Anaheim at Ottawa (7 pm)

Saturday, Feb. 3: Ottawa at Philadelphia (1 pm)

Sunday, Feb. 4: Ottawa at Montreal (1 pm)

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