The Sens are off tonight but are back in action tomorrow when they visit the Calgary Flames for a 9:00 PM start. In the meantime, we have the latest contribution from Tom, where he takes a look at the Sens season to date.
Jekyll & Hyde
So here we are. A healthy 18 games into the season. At this point, the majority of the fan base would usually be able to tell you what kind of team the 2011-2012 Ottawa Senators are going to be. Except for one major issue - The Sens are ridiculously confusing.
A little less than a quarter of the way through the season, if a stranger were to come up to you and ask “What kind of team does Ottawa have this year?” what would you say back? You’d probably just start stuttering uncontrollably and the person would walk away.
As of the morning of November 15th Ottawa sits only 6 points out of first place in the Eastern Conference. But look a little closer and you will see that the Sens are also only 6 points out of dead last in the East as well. Thanks a lot, Sens. You guys are really making things difficult.
Ottawa has truly become the epitome of a Jekyll and Hyde team. They have been absolutely dominant at times, the best example of which was a 6 game winning streak that saw the Sens climb to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, but they have also been borderline horrific in embarrassing loses as the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers (7-2) and the Colorado Avalanche (7-1) and have gone on losing streaks of 3 and 5 games.
So which is it, Sens? Are you good, or bad? In my opinion there are two ways to answer the question of “Who are the 2011-2012 Ottawa Senators?”
You could say that the Sens are a lousy team in the first year of a major rebuild that got hot for a few games and aren’t truly in contention for the playoffs. You could say that teams are playing down to the Sens and aren’t truly taking them as seriously as they should, allowing Ottawa to stay in games they have no business of being in (I’m looking at you New York Rangers). They are a team who make costly turn overs behind their own blue line, can’t play defence consistently for more than 5 minutes, and get mediocre goaltending.
Or you could say that the Sens are a team working together to prove people wrong. They’re a team that’s pissed of that every hockey magazine and media outlet has pegged them to finish last in the NHL by a wide margin. You could say that they are a young group of guys lead by a core group of veterans who have all bought into a system hand delivered by one of the best new coaches in the NHL. You could say they are working towards the big picture and taking the bumps in the road in stride. They are a team who has one of the best power plays in the NHL, score goals at a torrential rate, and are a team that never gives up even when they are down by 4 goals in the 3rd period.
But really, I’d say the Sens are a team who are a young up and coming team, with a group of good goal scorers, and an excellent power play who are predisposed to making costly turnover at inopportune times which lead to them having to fight and claw their way to every victory or loss.
This might worry some of the fan base who are fearing a middle of the pack finish. Finishing 9th in the east would be pretty detrimental to the rebuilding program that Bryan Murray and his staff have committed to, but finishing 8th in the East would be something no one would have predicted and would undoubtedly be a welcome turn of events in a season in which no one gave Ottawa a chance.
It seems like the Sens are their own worst enemies. They do exactly what it takes to win, while also doing exactly what it takes to lose. Unfortunately for their passionate fans – they do these things at the exact same time.
Let me know in the comments section how you would describe the 2011-2012 Senators to a stranger on the street, or let me know on twitter @TomSENS