Ottawa Senators: Next Three Games Postponed, Phaneuf Retires, More

With 10 players in COVID-19 protocol, the NHL has suspended the next three Ottawa Senators’ games.

The players in protocol are Alex Formenton, Dylan Gambrell, Drake Batherson, Connor Brown, Nick Holden, Victor Mete, Austin Watson, Josh Brown, Nikita Zaitsev and Matt Murray.

The Senators fell 4-0 at home to the Calgary Flames on Sunday that dropped their record to 4-10-1 on the season.

Ottawa was next set to visit the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday before hosting the Nashville Predators two days later. Those games, along with the scheduled Saturday home tilt against the New York Rangers, have been postponed.

The NHL hasn’t announced new dates for those three games. Ottawa is slated to begin a four-game road trip next week, beginning with a Nov. 22 showdown against the Colorado Avalanche. They’ll then embark on the three-game California road trip before returning home for a Dec. 1 game against the Vancouver Canucks.

“The decision was made by the League’s, NHLPA’s and club’s medical group,” the league said, in a statement. “As an appropriate precaution, the team’s training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed for players until further notice. The league is in the process of reviewing and revising the Senators’ regular season schedule.”

Only the Arizona Coyotes (2-13-1) have fewer points than the struggling Senators (4-10-1), who already look poised to miss the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year.

Amid another disappointing season, the Senators share the third lowest 2022 Stanley Cup odds at +15000 on the Ontario sports betting community due to the fact that they’re still in a massive rebuilding phase and far out of the playoff race (nine points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card spod).

Dion Phaneuf Announces Retirement

Former All-Star defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who played 154 games over three seasons with the Senators, announced his retirement this week.

Phaneuf spent his first four and a half seasons with the Calgary Flames before he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Jan. 2010 blockbuster. 

Just over six years later, the Leafs dealt their former captain to the provincial rival Senators ahead of the trade deadline.

In 154 games with the Senators, Phaneuf recorded 13 goals and 54 points. The hard-hitting veteran and renowned leader also contributed five points in the Sens’ thrilling 2017 postseason run that saw them go all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, where they fell to the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime.

In the midst of a disappointing 2017-18 season, the Senators traded Phaneuf and Nate Thompson to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Nick Shore and Marion Gaborik. Phaneuf played 67 games in the 2018-19 season —his last in the NHL — recording one goal and five assists.

Smith Praises Newcomer Sanford

Before the start of the regular season, the Senators acquired forward Zach Sanford from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Logan Brown, who was drafted with the No. 11 selection in 2016.

The 6-foot-6 hulking center never found his game in Ottawa, recording only a goal and eight assists in 30 games spread across four seasons. Brown never played more than 23 games in a single campaign for the Sens, either.

Sanford, a 2019 Stanley Cup winner with the Blues, has two goals and an assist in 15 games this season. He hasn’t contributed much offensively thus far, but head coach D.J. Smith praised the energy Sanford has brought to the team in the early going.

“When he’s playing with emotion he’s a really good player,” Smith said, per Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. “I thought he did that in Minnesota and I thought (against) Pittsburgh he had good emotion and he played with it. He’s got really good hands, he got to the net and he blocked some shots. He was involved in the game and when he does that he’s a big part of the team.”

Sanford has racked up 11 penalty minutes in 15 games, trailing only captain Brady Tkachuk (15 penalty minutes) among all Sens players. The 27-year-old has also dished out 32 hits (fourth most on the team) and 12 blocked shots.

The 6-foot-4 winger is only two seasons removed from a career year in which he tallied 16 goals and 30 points, helping the Blues to another playoff appearance. Needless to say, Sanford’s style of play has meshed well with a young and skilled Ottawa team that has played below expectations in the early going.