Predictions is a fool’s game?
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 (Andre Ringuette)
Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield.
It is the way of things, in the game of prediction-making in hockey.
Some days you’re just simply right-on, bang-on and others – simply off your rocker.
So, let’s kick the navel-gazing off on the right foot this week. The guy who last week at this very time in this very space wrote (something along the lines of): the way this season has gone, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Ottawa Senators dropped all three winnable home games this week.
Florida then Edmonton then Carolina.
Two of the three out of the playoff chase, the other chasing down a spot but still three points out of the final spot.
Seemed logical that a team that had just finished sweeping its way through the state of Florida then topped a desperate Dallas club, would be primed for a successful run, on its own home ice, through the also-rans.
But something in the writer’s gut told him, nah . . . not going to happen.
True to form and the prediction, the Senators maintained their position as the NHL’s hardest team to predict (particularly on the ‘success’ meter), and were swallowed whole by the Panthers, then Oilers and finally, the Canes.
Total goals for: six.
Total goals against: 18.
Give that writer a pat on the back. Great call.
But this is a humbling business.
Let’s jet back to the beginning of the season, on a particularly warm October afternoon, where this same writer propped himself in front of his laptop and wrote – with great vehemence and mental fortitude – that, damn the critics, this Ottawa Senators team was not to be toyed with. This was a team destined for further great things. The team that came within a Chris Kunitz wobbler of making it to the Stanley Cup finale just a few months ago, was a contender.
Mark it down: Ottawa would be battling the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place overall in the Eastern Conference.
Lock of the year, baby!
Yup, I wrote it.
Well, we all know where that ended up.
Probably could have trashed the entire column just around Christmas time, that’s how horrible this entire season has been for the Ottawa Senators – it was over well before it was over.
It gets worse too.
A major breakout season was predicted for Mike Hoffman (more on his ‘effort’ level below), who was pegged for roughly 40 goals, and a return-to-playoff-form by Bobby Ryan. As we found out, Ryan has bad hands in more ways than one.
Another shining forecast?
The Senators owned the best 1-2 punch between the pipes in, maybe, the entire league.
Not so much.
What have we learned then?
Prognostication is a fun game but nothing to be taken too seriously.
One thing to be taken seriously though? Ottawa needs to get its house in order and in quick fashion.
We’ll delve into the what-and-why next week.
Predictions not included.
NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS: Read – with great hilarity – comments online regarding Don Cherry’s rant on Ottawa not deserving a hockey team. Generating the most chuckles: folks telling The Don to keep his opinions to himself. Um, yup. That’s what he’s paid for people – keeping his opinions to himself . . . Mike Hoffman is generally known for his pull-and-shoot move, but this past week against Edmonton he added something else to his arsenal, the old’ pull-the-chute move. Hoffman had a front-row seat to watch Edmonton’s Connor McDavid skate easily past him and score. Effort? Clearly on holiday for the Senators’ forward during that ‘shift’ . . . Still remember the hue-and-cry when the Toronto Maple Leafs ‘mistakenly’ didn’t trade up in the 2015 draft to grab OHL sniper Dylan Strome. The Arizona Coyotes grabbed Strome with the third pick overall. The Leafs had to settle for Mitch Marner at No. 4. By this weekend’s numbers, the Leafs ‘mistake’ paid off: Marner’s hit for 124 points so far in his career. Strome? Four . . . 2015 was an intriguing class – the Senators snagged Thomas Chabot (18th) and Colin White (21st) – with some absolute gems coming later in the opening round. Likely rookie-of-the-year winner Mathew Barzal was taken 16th by the Islanders while Vancouver stole Brock Boeser with the 23rd selection. Boeser would be right there with Barzal but for a season-ending back injury at the beginning of March. Former 67’s character centre Travis Konecny, meantime, has been steady for the Flyers (24th) . . . The Toronto Blue Jays open their schedule this week against the Yankees. This is the first time in recent memory that there’s nary a peep of a buzz surrounding the Jays. Word is, the American League’s attendance leaders are sucking wind at the box office. Not surprised.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Monday, March 26: Ottawa at Carolina (7 pm)
Tuesday, March 27: NY Islanders at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Thursday, March 29: Florida at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Saturday, March 31: Ottawa at Detroit (2 pm)