After a promising preseason start, the Ottawa Senators are now 0-2-1 to start the season, 0-for-14 on the power play and have been out-shot 100-75 and outscored 10-4.
The numbers are worrisome.
Pushing the panic button after only three games played may seem like an overreaction, yet in an unforgiving league where postseason hopes are decided by one win, these three losses may come back to haunt the Sens come the playoffs.
General manager Bryan Murray is obviously feeling the frustration.
“A tough start is tough,” Murray said. “It's hard to catch up, and you do have to win a lot of games. ... if you get behind the eight-ball very far, the league is pretty even and to have long runs is difficult.”
“It's very disappointing,” coach Cory Clouston added. “We felt we had a pretty positive preseason, we had a good week of practice, but we've come out and been outworked, out-competed, out-executed in all areas. We're going to live and die as a team, and we have to attack and defend as units. Right now we're getting efforts, but it's individual efforts.”
Everyone agrees the team needs to start playing better and that it has to start now.
The one bright spot in the first two games was goalie Pascal Leclaire, who kept the game close in a 2-1 opening-season loss to the Buffalo Sabres and who was the best Sen on the ice for the embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Toronto Leafs on Saturday night.
Ironically though, it was Leclaire who let his team down on Monday night against the Washington Capitals. With the Senators finally acting responsibly on defence and generating some good offence, Leclaire allowed a soft goal by Alexander Ovechkin with just 31.1 seconds remaining in overtime.
“He made some saves, for sure,” said Clouston after the game, “but we need him to make that last one. It’s very disappointing.
“To me, if you’re thinking of Ovechkin’s shot, he didn’t get all of it. There wasn’t a whole lot on it and I’m not sure how it even ended up beating (Leclaire) five-hole.”
The one good thing to come out of the loss to Washington, however, was that we saw a glimpse of what the Ottawa Senators can do when competing against one of the best teams in the league. If the team can play like they did last night and if Leclaire can hold steady like he did in the first two games, then this team has a chance to compete with the best of them.
“We made some mistakes,” Leclaire said. “I think it's some stuff that's going to be easy to fix and not panic. I think that's the most important thing. We know what we're doing wrong, and it's up to us to fix the little things, but I don't think we're that far off at all.”
Christopher Smith runs senspedia.com, an Ottawa Senators fan site.