Struggling Senators Simply Burned Out?

Kathleen CameronCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2008

What can be said about the Ottawa Senators that hasn’t already been said?  

Sports commentators, local reporters, and bloggers everywhere have taken a stab at figuring out the cause of this team’s woes.  Coach Paddock has tried his best to offer some kind of explanation, individual players have attempted a diagnosis, and sports fans have had their say.   

Still, it seems like no one has a clue in hockey hell as to what is really wrong with this team.

When asked to write a piece detailing how the Senators might get back on track, I eagerly took the assignment.  At first I was sure I had the answer, but that confidence quickly faded.  

It seems this writer, usually adept at plucking words and plunking them onto the page to formulate some kind of intelligent commentary—especially where a favorite team is concerned, is for once…at a loss for words.   

Saturday night I watched the Ottawa Senators run all over the Habs, and I thought I had my story.  I believed my team was back on track.  

In O-town that night, the Senators took charge.  They played hard, they played fast, and they played tough.  Plus, the Razor showed up in a big way, turning in one of his best performances of the season.  He pounced, he flopped, and he sprawled.  He did everything he could to keep the puck out of the net.

The Ottawa Senators—Eastern Conference leaders—sent a message to the Montreal Canadiens, and every other team in their conference vying for first place.   And the message was, “Don’t mess with us.”

But my elation was short-lived.  Two games later, the Sens are back in their slump, even after the acquisitions of Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman.  

To be fair, with two new players there is bound to be an adjustment period.  Stillman and Commodore need a chance to gel with the team, and the team certainly has to get used to the additions.  

But taking a look at the Senators’ last two games, you’ll see that the mistakes they are making now are those persisting from before the new arrivals hit the ice.  Undisciplined play, turnovers, a lack of intensity and emotion from their players, porous defense, and mistakes, mistakes, mistakes.   

So just what is holding this team back from reaching their full potential?  Why are the players failing to demonstrate a thirst for success, a lust for winning?  

Perhaps the Senators are simply burned out, mentally drained from the pressure to win, to stay on top.  Or is it that they are finally crashing from the high of getting to the Stanley Cup finals last year?  Is the tabloid sensationalism focused on their goalie distracting this team from their game?

Finally, could it be that perhaps their mentor, their coach, just doesn’t have what it takes to bring this team to the next level?

Take it from here, sports fans.