Big Questions Surround the Sens
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
While it's certainly not the right juncture for hysteria, terror and trepidation, the way the Ottawa Senators have been playing lately is concerning.
There are some big questions surrounding this team right now.
The biggest one from this corner of the page is, where is the leadership?
Or, maybe more appropriately, is there enough leadership?
Let's be clear, I don't get to sit in the dressing room during team meetings. Nor do I get the opportunity to sit on the bench between players following a particularly bad series.
I don't know what's being said, or not. I don't know if captain Erik Karlsson morphs into Knute Rockne and stirs his mates into a lather or sits around reading the comics.
But from what I can glom, and if I am a Senators fan, I'm left wondering.
Karlsson 'seems' to some degree to tailor his style after best buddy Daniel Alfredsson – quiet leadership.
Once in a while, though, I'd like to see more of a spark. More vitriol, anger and icy stares when things aren't going right.
We have seen it on occasion from Karlsson, but it's few and far between (the one that does pop into mind is his on-ice lambasting of teammate Derick Brassard during last season's playoffs).
Too often the camera shows a smiling, affable on-ice Karlsson chuckling along with the opposition, sharing some inside joke.
That's kind of maddening. This isn't beer league.
Case in point, after Arizona's Anthony Duclair scored on a breakaway last Saturday it almost looked like Karlsson was going to pat him on the back and shake his hand and buy him a pop. Reportedly the Senators captain basically said "nice move" to Duclair.
I realize hockey ain't what it used to be. Back in the day if teams ran into each other away from the rink there was nothing said, just steely stares.
Nowadays it's not uncommon for players to share a meal the night before matching up on the ice.
Still, after a pretty miserable display in Saturday's loss to the Coyotes – by far the league's worst team – it would have been nice to see and hear the captain rip on the effort.
And while the next night's effort against the Rangers in New York was better, the fact Ottawa lost its third straight should have conjured more than this (from Sportsnet): "Not one of our best," Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson said. "We couldn’t really find a groove and didn’t find a way to sustain the pressure we knew that we could create. … We didn’t have an answer for what they threw at us."
NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS: Interesting comments from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman this week regarding the state of hockey in both Calgary and Ottawa. The topic? New arenas: "We’re not looking to threaten markets, but there is a certain inevitability if a club needs a new arena to stay competitive, to stay viable and have stability, that if it can’t for whatever reason get a new facility then at some point ownership has to look at what options it may have," Bettman said to Sportsnet. Time for panic in Ottawa? Hardly, but that new rink downtown needs to be confirmed, and soon . . . Parties in Houston and Seattle (yawn, again) are reportedly intrigued by the thought of the NHL plopping down franchises . . . Have to feel kind of pissy if you're a fan in Quebec City. You have the rink (Videotron Centre) and the support, yet they're treated like the ugly stepchild . . . The Senators might own one of the best 1-2 goaltending tandems in the league, but as far as handling the puck, Craig Anderson and Mike Condon are two of the Three Stooges . . . That one-game suspension to Calgary's Matthew Tkachuk for a love-tap on Detroit's Luke Witkowski last week during a brawl (Detroit in a brawl? Imagine . . .) was a joke. No way Jose. He also landed a spearing major and game misconduct. You learn something every day. Apparently tapping an opponent on the back of a skate is egregious . . . Worst inspirational headline of the week goes to TSN: "Leafs learning that boring hockey = winning hockey." Please Lord, no. Toronto is damn good fun to watch. Don't take that away from us . . . Speaking on the Leafs, Don Cherry Saturday circled Frederik Andersen as the league's top goalie right now. Not sure about that one, but he's not far off . . . Leafs' season as a microcosm – Saturday versus Montreal: Should have been blown out in the first, then swoop back in and dominate the second and third. Two-thirds of the time Toronto is superb, one-third, not so much . . . I don't know what I like less, the shootout to decide games or the endless run of outdoor games.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Wednesday, Nov. 22: Ottawa at Washington (7 pm)
Friday, November 24: Ottawa at Columbus (7 pm)
Saturday, November 25: NY Islanders at Ottawa (7 pm)