• By: Dave Gross

Bad habits just won’t go away – Senators

Expectations can create resentments?

Yep. Especially those darned unfulfilled ones.

So when you’re the Ottawa Senators – the new golden child of the National Hockey League’s collective media as well as the club’s jacked and re-juiced fan base – and you watch what came about during the team’s last two games, resentment’s on full boil.

These aren’t the good ol’ days of ‘we stink, so no big deal.’ Ottawa’s being called on to win this season and anything less than a playoff spot and 2023-24 is a bust.


And while duly considering that we’re only a couple of weeks into the new season, some troubling trends are carrying over from the past few years under the previous and current coaching regime. The biggest pickle? Defensive coverage and general lack thereof.

Case in point – the amount of tipped shots in front of both Anton Forsberg and eventual replacement Joonas Korpisalo Tuesday night speaks not only to Buffalo’s propensity for the sharp re-direct, but to Ottawa’s inability to box out/check in front of its goal also. (We’ll side on the side of more-of-the-latter on this one).

More missed assignments than Jeff Spicoli.

After Buffalo’s 6-4 rub-out Tuesday night, Ottawa followers let it rip on the chat sites:

“We desperately need a new coaching staff. Too much talent being wasted and undeveloped. Going to bite us in the ass in the very near future when the bad habits become so ingrained they are impossible to break”

“The one absolute constant with this team is that we look terrible in the defence zone. Several years now. We can say execution. Or system. But the fact is. Coaches that get their players to execute their system to generate wins are deemed good coaches”

“Sens had this exact same game like 5 times last November”

“Final score very much a flatter-to-deceive situation”

“Do we still have a basketball team at the Civic Centre? Is it a fun sport to follow?”

A+ everyone.

And we’ll add to the piling on by saying that while “it’s still early!!” it’s also troubling back-to-back beatdowns by the two teams Ottawa likely will be battling for a final playoff spot.

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: Anyone else catch the look in Pierre Dorion’s eyes during the final minutes when the TV cameras caught him perched (uncomfortably) in the team’s box? Rabbit-in-the-headlights? This as new owner Mike Andlauer and sidekick Steve Staios were sporting matching death-stares directly behind the left ear of the team’s current general manager . . . One poster raising a laugh: “Dorion looks like your dog after he chewed something up, got the guilty eyes and you just know he’s been up to no good” . . . Mathieu Joseph, the apple of everyone’s trade eye, was one of the few with a(nother) solid effort Tuesday. Joseph was a plus-2 and scored once with an assist . . . While this corner relishes toughness, Ottawa could soon ice a lineup that includes Brady Tkachuk, Ridley Greig, Parker Kelly, Mark Kastelic, Zack MacEwen and Tyler Kleven. When you’re facing off with less aggressive, infraction-leaning divisional opponents like Buffalo and Detroit and, to some degree Toronto, you’re asking for trouble. Penalty trouble. This isn’t 1985 . . . And while toughness rules in the post-season, you gotta get there first. This is a special-teams league. Undisciplined play kills . . . Credit Tkachuk though for seemingly being about the only guy who kept the work boots on against the Sabres as the score got more and more ugly . . . What does Tkachuk have over notorious ruffians like Tom Wilson, Radko Gudas, Arber Xhekaj and Ryan Reaves? The penalty-minute lead. Tkachuk’s 34 PIM’s lead the circuit . . . Calgary’s struggling and frustrated. Veteran defenceman Nikita Zadorov on just that: “Last season was different. It was (head coach) Darryl [Sutter]. Now there’s no Darryl, so there’s no excuses,” Zadorov said. “You know what I mean? You guys don’t like hard coaches? You don’t like soft coaches? You don’t like good coaches? Fair.” . . . Former Toronto scapegoat Justin Holl was a jaw-dropping plus-5 in Detroit’s win over Calgary Sunday night . . . Look, we’re almost done and haven’t mentioned Alex DeBrincat yet . . . DeBrincat’s arrival in Detroit wasn’t just great news for pal Dylan Larkin but for linemate Lucas Raymond also who excelled as a 57-point-rookie but strained as a sophomore last season . . . Ottawa will get its first look this season at Erik Karlsson Saturday night when the Senators visit Pittsburgh . . . Vegas, Colorado and Boston are a combined 19-0 out of the gate . . . The Bruins are getting it done with smart defence – just seven goals surrendered in their six wins.


Thursday, Oct. 26: Ottawa at NY Islanders (7 pm)

Saturday, Oct. 28: Ottawa at Pittsburgh (7 pm)