With fourteen games left in the season, the Ottawa Senators have stood by and watched as their playoff chances disappeared. After an ugly loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, it really does feel like the team from the Nation’s Capital has hit rock bottom.
It’s hard to pick just one reason for what has been an incredibly disappointing season. It started when Daniel Alfredsson walked out the door in early July and it feels like nothing has gone right for this hockey team since then. Having Alfie in the line up wouldn’t fix the issues the team is facing right now but it’s safe to say that the team massively underestimate the impact of Alfie’s departure both on and off the ice.
The defence. The forwards. The goaltending. The Coaching. Heck even the fan base have all taken a step back this season. We all want someone to blame when things turn ugly like they have since the Olympic break but the reality is there is no single issue plaguing this team right now. On the ice, anyway. This is still a young hockey team with a solid young core in place. Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci and Robin Lehner are all under the age of 24 and are hopefully learning valuable lessons about what it takes to win in this league.
There are going to be a lot of tough decisions to make this off season.
With a young core in place, and prospects like Curtis Lazar, Mark Borowiecki, Matt Puempel, Fredrick Claesson, Shane Prince and Mark Stone all pushing for spots, there’s no doubt that the future is bright. With that said, the organization is going to have to make some franchise-altering decisions between now and the 2014/2015 season. Not to look too far ahead but with Jason Spezza, Bobby Ryan, Marc Methot and Clarke MacArthur all hitting the end of their contracts after next season, management has to decide who fits in with the long term plan and who doesn’t.
There were Jason Spezza rumours at the deadline. There will be more of those this off season. Bobby Ryan is going to need a new contract and the team has about a year and a half to convince him that Ottawa is a place he should commit to long term.
What we do know for certain, is that after a disaster of a season on so many levels, status quo won’t be good enough. Fans in this city are angry about the way the season has unfolded and need to see that the effort and resources (Talking to you, Eugene) are there to make sure a season like this one doesn’t happen again.
Maybe a little early for a post-mortem but that’s just been the tone of the conversation around this team lately. 14 games left. It’s about playing for pride now and doing everything they can to make sure the Anaheim Ducks don’t end up with a lottery pick this summer.
Tampa Bay visits the Canadian Tire Centre tonight. Game Day post in a little bit.