Senator offence nothing to get Wild over
Granted it is early but if the Ottawa Senators don’t find a way to discover a cure for their insipid power play, this is going to be one ugly beast of a season.
I guess you could contend that no one should be surprised given the lip service offered up as this being a rebuilding season. Ottawa wasn’t expected to contend for even a playoff spot let alone make a run of some sort in the springtime. So expecting a power play to shine is ridiculous.
But this is even more ridiculous: 0-for-17.
That’s the telling statistic that plagues the Senators as they head out west this week to face off with Vegas (ugh), then Arizona (less ugh). Seventeen power play opportunities, zero goals.
More troubling is that it’s not like they’ve been unlucky; ringing pucks off the cross-bar and goal posts. Nope, the eye test tells us that the man advantage needs work, creativity and drive. Plenty of work, creativity and drive.
Case in point was Monday afternoon’s game against the visiting Minnesota Wild.
Ottawa netted five power play chances yet didn’t really come close.
Ringleader Thomas Chabot can only try and do so much (seemingly lately he’s tried to do too much). He simply does not have much help.
Topping the list is a guy with patience who can move the puck efficiently off the half-wall. Think Jason Spezza from about a decade ago.
Well, the Spezzas don’t grow on trees (although judging by Toronto head coach Mike Babcock’s treatment of the veteran, if he had his druthers, Spezza could be had for a song back in Ottawa).
Maybe down the road someone like Josh Norris or Colin White or Logan Brown can grow into the role. Right now however, this is a listing ship.
The entire offensive package is less than potent – Ottawa has but 12 goals in its first five games.
Defensively though, there are definitely signs of life.
Ottawa kept Minnesota boxed out throughout the afternoon and put in another strong showing in a win over Tampa Bay on Saturday. Coach D.J. Smith and his assistants are relying on aggressive, first-to-the-puck defence.
After last season’s shots-against nightmare, Ottawa and its netminders sure enjoy what they’re seeing this year.
Let’s see if they can conjure some magic to fix the other side of the ledger.
Thoughts, news and notions: Down on the farm in Belleville, through three games much-maligned Drake Batherson leads the way with a goal and four assists. More impressive? Batherson’s only been in the lineup for two of those games . . . As of this writing, three teams remained undefeated – Edmonton, Buffalo and Colorado. I buy Colorado, but the other two? . . . A lot of the credit for the Oilers and Sabres quick starts goes to a pair of new coaches: Dave Tippett in Edmonton and Ralph Krueger in Buffalo . . . TSN 1200’s Steve Lloyd with this gem of a tweet after struggling through a good chunk of Saturday’s Senator-Wild snoozer: “Both teams are working hard, but 95 year old men have better flow than this game.” . . . The Leafs get the Wild Tuesday night. Is there anybody the Leafs – not exactly a grit and gumption factory – could miss more than Zach Hyman (knee). He gives them a lot of what they don’t have. Hyman is out long term . . . Toronto is also missing d-man Travis Dermott (shoulder) who quietly morphed into a top-4 blueliner for his club last season . . . Is there an ‘anything worse’ thing to be in this world than a lifelong Cincinnati Bengals fan? . . . NFL, NHL, MLB playoffs, this really is the best season to be a sports fan . . . Nice story being written in San Jose where the return of Patrick Marleau is going great guns, so far. The 40-year-old has three points in his first two games. Talk to anyone in hockey and they’ll tell you what a class act the Swift Current native truly is . . . Marleau received a standing ovation in his return.
The week ahead:
Thursday, Oct. 17: Ottawa at Vegas (10 pm)
Saturday, Oct. 19: Ottawa at Arizona (7 pm)