• By: Dave Gross

Despite disastrous season, better days ahead for Senators?

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

Eugene Melnyk.

. . . Now that I have your attention, let's move on.

We're going to leave the Ottawa Senators' owner, CEO, shadow-GM and resident national capital villain off to the sidelines this week in an attempt to brighten up your late-winter day.

We can all agree this has been –  in all likelihood – the most disappointing and stumble-and-bumble-laden season in recent memory for the Senators.

Actually, 'disappointing' doesn't do it justice.

'Disaster' is more apropos.

With that in mind, it's well past time to shrug it off, dust away the dreary and shine the beam on the few bright spots in an all-together forgettable campaign.

Here are some highlights, and some other things that are destined to improve.

Polyanna – the stage is yours.

CODY CECI: Have to admit that Ceci has/had been fairly underwhelming since being selected 15th overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft.

Expectations were high for the Ottawa product. The offensive numbers were supposed to be stronger, the decisions and break-out game a little more sound.

Well, I think we've discovered this season what the Senators have in the 24-year-old blueliner, and it's not what many expected: He's morphed into a very capable defensive-minded skater.

Amid the foibles of Erik Karlsson and the general failures of the rest of the D-crew, Ceci has been a bit of a rock.

He plays against the opposition's top lines and plays like a warrior.

He also gets saddled with lesser-than talents as defence partners. First it was labouring Jared Cowen, and then most recently, plodding Dion Phaneuf. That's a lot of ground to cover in making up for your partner's lack of skating ability.

GM Pierre Dorion summed it up well to Postmedia recently: “I’m a big Cody Ceci fan. I think when you play against the other teams top lines, on a night in, night out basis, you play those hard minutes. They’re not hard minutes as far as physical, they’re hard because the others guys have got the puck a lot, because you’re playing against the most skilled guys.”

Ceci also logs big minutes, averaging just under 23 minutes per game.

One thing we didn't see coming was his physicality. Ceci plays a heavy game for not an overly large player. His angle-work along the boards is also very good.

Given his age and development as a defensive-defenceman, Ceci has a bright future in Ottawa.

RYAN DZINGEL:  We all knew he could skate, now Dzingel is putting it together in other areas.

He's generally first man into the corners in the offensive zone and he's a bit of a Rottweiler when he arrives. Dzingel – more often than not – comes out with the puck.

With 17 goals in his pocket, the 25-year-old winger is well on his way to 20 and has already ripped past the 14 he scored last season.

He's one of the few that continuously plays with a spark and considerable drive.

Not bad for a seventh-round pick (in 2011).

MATT DUCHENE: His terrible start as a Senator is now in the rear-view mirror.

Duchene's been a consistent threat the past couple of months. Despite a recent dry patch numbers-wise, he's getting his chances and creating even more.

MARK STONE'S HEALTH: Not a memorable year for Ottawa's smartest player, and one that's been marred by injury.

You have to admire the digits, though. In his 55 games (up through Sunday), Stone has 60 points.

That 1.09 points-per-game average slots Stone 14th in the league, just below Johnny Gaudreau and slightly ahead of Anze Kopitar.

Pretty good company.

If Erik Karlsson does eventually move on, the captaincy is a no-brainer.

ERIK KARLSSON'S . . . UM . . . EVERYTHING: The numbers, the rumours, the overall play have all been nightmarish.

EK's plus/minus of -30 is his worst figure since 2011. His eventual point total will more than likely be his worst since 2014-15 (66) or even back to 2010-11 (45).

Karlsson's giveaway totals make him the ideal house to visit on Halloween.

Rumblings that Karlsson wanted, or wants, a new locale for his playground won't go away.

The talk of a fractured relationship with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (hint: EM . . .) also won't subside.

So, it couldn't possible get or be any worse. Right?


This all will end at some point, and whichever way it goes, Ottawa will be in a better place.


NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS: While it's a handy and way to fill up internet pages and the odd newspaper, we're not a big fan of these "Winners and Losers" listings following the NHL trade deadline (or draft). Speculation is fun and loosey-goosey, but in reality, you can't have an accurate scope of who "came out on top" until well after the deadline – like, after the season is over (or even further down the road). In the case of the draft, it can take years to nail down an accurate summation . . . Anyone reading this space also understands we're not fans of the deluge of outdoor games dotting the calendar. The latest was that slopfest Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis between Washington and Toronto. An important game for both was played on a snow-covered playground. And what of those Leaf sweaters? Bright white on a bright white surface. Could hardly see the players. Given the result for Toronto, maybe that was a good thing. Ugly.


Monday, March 5: Ottawa at Dallas (8:30 pm)

Thursday, March 8: Buffalo at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Friday, March 9: Calgary at Ottawa (7:30 pm)