That cold, hard surface beneath the feet of the Ottawa Senators these days is something oddly familiar—rock bottom.
However, though mired in a six-game losing streak, there are signs that the team has finally hit the nadir, and is preparing for a strong rebound.
Despite the half-dozen losses the Sens have suffered over the past two weeks, the last two contained cause for optimism.
First, they both came against top teams in the East, the Habs and the Rangers—not exactly teams you feel bad about losing to.
Second, both were one-goal shootout losses where the Sens managed to take home a point. As much as I hate the loser point, those two games were examples of a situation where the losing team truly did deserve something (but I still would have preferred a tie).
Finally, in both games it could be legitimately said that the Sens were the better team. Superb goaltending by Hendrik Lundqvist and Carey Price were the deciding factors. as the Sens out-chanced both the Rangers and the Habs.
The Sens could easily be on a two-game winning streak, had it not been for one of the worst calls I have seen yet this season by Don Van Massenhoven, and Antoine Vermette having hands of stone.
Ever since the shootout was added to the NHL, the Sens have been ridiculously brutal at the mini-game. Despite having some of the most-talented scorers in the league, they really are not one-on-one type players. They are one-timer, beautiful-passing-play, two-on-one type players—but not breakaway specialists.
This has clearly been an issue in the post-lockout world, as Sens have left dozens of points on the board due to their inability to score in the shootout.
However, despite the losses, the signs are there that a turn around is in the near future, and it should be noted that in 2006 the Sens started the season 7-11-1 (15 points) after 19 games and in 2008 are 6-9-4 (16 points) over the same number of games.
2006, of course, was the year the Sens went to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Although there are still many issues with this team, the extremely competitive and bunched-up Eastern Conference—the Sens are still only four points out of eighth and eight points out of fifth—ensures that the season is a long way from over.