Through the first 8 games of the NHL season, and with a date with Daniel Alfredsson and the Detroit Red Wings next on the agenda, things aren’t exactly rosy in the Nation’s Capital.
There have been flashes where they looked like the team everyone was expecting to see this season but in general, they have been falling short of expectations created by consecutive playoff seasons. And while it’s extremely early and there’s no reason to panic just yet, there are some issues in their game right now that Paul MacLean and his Coaching staff need to address.
The Senators have a couple days of practice to figure out some of the issues plaguing this team. Sloppy defensive coverage and a sputtering power play should be at the top of the agenda.
The schedule to close out the month of October is going to be downright cruel for the Senators as they’ll play games against Detroit, Anaheim, San Jose and Chicago. You would be hard pressed to draw up a tougher stretch of games and for a team that is still searching for an identity; it’s going to be a real challenge.
First up- Daniel Alfredsson and the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.
- -Oilers fans were upset following Saturday’s game for what they felt was a suspension worthy “knee” by Eric Gryba on Taylor Hall. Completely ridiculous, if you ask me. Yes their knees collided and it’s unfortunate Hall was injured on the play but it certainly wasn’t a malicious hit by Gryba. The league was expected to look at the play over the weekend but that’s where it will end. No suspension or fine required. Sorry Oilers fans.
- -Speaking of the Oilers, rumours persist about their search for a goalie. Dubnyk has been solid in his last couple outings but it sounds like they’ll continue to search to see what’s out there. You can be certain the Senators are one of the teams they’ll call but unless MacTavish is willing to significantly overpay, Bryan Murray isn’t really interested in making a move right now.
- -Erik Karlsson is playing more than 27 minutes a night which puts him third in the league behind Ryan Suter and Dennis Widemanl. Coming into this season there was concern about his skating ability but from what I have seen over the first stretch of games; his skating is fine and getting close to where it was before the injury. The only I see issue right now is in his decision making. He just doesn’t seem to be making plays as quickly as he did before the injury although I think that’s normal early in the season.
- -On Sunday morning, I asked Twitter followers who they were most impressed with and most disappointed by during the first eight games of the season. Kyle Turris was the runaway winner for most impressive with Bobby Ryan also receiving a bunch of votes. Not surprisingly, they were a wide range of answers for most disappointing with a couple defenceman getting multiple votes and the rest of the disappointment targeted towards bottom six forwards. Speaking of which….
- -The bottom six forwards are frustrating to watch right now. Not only because they are struggling but because it really should be an area of strength for this hockey team. With Kassian and Grant in there on Saturday night, line three and four were pretty ineffective. I don’t know what the answer is and I know Paul MacLean is a smart hockey guy, but something needs to change. Zibanejad called up and Pageau in the lineup seems like a good place to start.
- -Speaking of the bottom six, Mika Zibanejad racked up three points on Sunday and now has 7 points in his last six games, which puts him one point ahead of Mike Hoffman for the team lead. I’m willing to accept that Zibanejad had a sub-par training camp but I really feel like he can help this team win right now. And with the schedule as hard as it is, this seems like a good time to call him up. The BSens are 4-2-0 through their first six games.
- -Wednesday night figures to be an emotional game as Daniel Alfredsson plays his first game against his former team but the real intrigue will come on December 1 when he makes his return to Ottawa. While watching the ovation Colts fans gave Manning on Sunday night, I tweeted that that’s how I would like to see Sens fans handle Alfie’s return. Montage and a standing ovation would be appropriate for Alfredsson. And as mad as you may be about the way he left, it really doesn’t change all the great things he did when he was here. As a fan you have every right to boo but as a fan I have the right to tell you that would be a stupid thing to do.