Its been up and down so far this season for the Ottawa Senators, mostly the down.
This season started with a trip over the Atlantic to Stockholm, that ended with 3 points for the Senators. Not a bad showing over 2 games. But those games didn't have the feel of regular season hockey, it was most like glorified exhibition play.
High hopes went into the home opener against Detroit, a team that had just lost to the Maple Leafs. A tight 3-2 loss, oh well, its the defending Stanley Cup champs right? No. Ottawa lead this game and Martin Gerber gave up two suspect goals in the third to give it up.
A lot of people will look at this Ottawa team so far and say they don't have many strengths at all, and they're right, its nowhere near what you would've said about this team two years ago, or at the start of last year. A big strength of this team so far is the Penalty Kill.
The kill is 86.4% so far this year. It has been a good kill, lots of pressure on all attacking players and getting the puck out quickly. Ottawa's PK is ranked 8th in the league, and it will continue to rise.
25% on the PowerPlay leaves Ottawa tied for third in that area. Filip Kuba has been big on the PowerPlay, tied for second in the league at this point with 11 assists.
Special teams has been big for Ottawa so far and has kept them in games.
Well where do we start? No better than the backend I guess. Martin Gerber has allowed a goal on the first shot in 2 of his 5 games. You want 0 of 5 out of your starting goalie in this category, so twice Ottawa has been behind the 8 ball right off the bat. Goaltending has been an issue in Ottawa for years and years. Alex Auld has given it some stability so far this year, but will that continue? nope. Maybe Brian Elliot will be called upon.
Defensive coverage. Where is it? I haven't seen much of it at all this season. It has improved as of late, but it was disappointing to say the least. What puzzles me is the fact that the PK has it but 5-on-5 its nowhere to be found...
Secondary scoring, who will they get it from? Fisher, Vermette, Kelly, Ruutu, Neil, Foligno and McAmmond will be expected to step up and provide scoring. Behind the big line of Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza, there isn't much scoring depth, great checkers, but can they score?
Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza will be split up over games, but will always end up together in the end.
This will not be a dominate Senators team, but it will be a good one. I give the early season slump to the Swedish start to the season and things will start to pick up.