Are the Pesky Sens Back?

We’re only three games into the 2014-15 NHL season, but the Ottawa Senators are already starting to show signs that the Pesky Sens could be back for another round.

Anderson Senators
(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Everyone remembers the 2012-13 shortened season. Most fans would immediately recall the painful memory of the lockout, but if you asked Senators fans, they’d tell you about the improbable run their team went on.

With injuries to Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson and Jason Spezza that plagued the team for most of the 48-game campaign; miraculously, the Senators pushed on through. With the help of numerous call-ups from Binghamton, they squeezed into the postseason with the eighth and final spot. Once into the playoffs, they knocked off the Montreal Canadiens in five games, but lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. Paul MacLean went on to win coach of the year for his ability to hold together a team decimated with injuries and bring them to the post season.

Could the Senators be in for a repeat of pesky proportions?

Reason to Believe Pesky is Back

With the exception of multiple crippling injuries, aside from Marc Methot’s current back problem, the Senators are definitely showing the same characteristics we saw from the team two years ago.

In the 2012-13 season, Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop combined for a .935 SV% along with a 2.04 GAA; absolutely amazing numbers. The trio of goaltenders helped the team finish in the top two for goals against in the entire league, only behind the soon-to-be Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Now, three games into the current season, Anderson and Lehner have a combined .954 SV% and a 1.66 GAA; numbers that will be almost impossible to keep up, but no one would complain if they stayed even remotely close.

One of the reasons goaltending seemed to be crucial for the Pesky Sens, was because they were allowing a substantial amount of shots and weren’t creating enough offence. Ottawa conceded 31.3 shots per game (23rd in the league) that year and only tallied 2.33 goals per game (27th in the league). One week into this season and the Senators have 1.67 goals per game and are allowing 35.7 shots on average.

With exceptional goaltending but a lack of scoring, the Senators played in 27 1-goal games in the shortened season. So far this year, all three of Ottawa’s games have been decided by one goal.

Back when the true Pesky Sens played in the 48-game season, the Senators were constantly tied or behind going into the third period, and somehow, someway, they continued to climb back and take the two points.

I don’t know about you, Bryan, but I’d rather not be trailing every night, falling back on late-game comebacks to be the base of success for the team.

Pesky Isn’t the Answer

Not everyone enjoys the label of pesky though.

     “I don’t like the word pesky, I know it’s the term we use for the team, but I guess you could say we’re the ‘Gritty Sens’ because we played a very sandpaper game. (Pesky is) just getting played to death isn’t it? Every time I turn it (radio) on I hear it. That’s OK. It’s cool for fans and media. It makes you feel like you have to win by one every night, you have to win 3-2, and come from behind … I still think we’re a team that can outplay teams for 60 minutes.” – Bobby Ryan. Ottawa Sun. Published: Oct. 12, 2014.

Although the “Gritty Sens” may not be the most catchy name, you have to be able to get behind what Ryan is saying.

Playing “pesky” hockey might have inexplicably worked for 48 games, but don’t expect it to pay off after an 82-game season. It’s a recipe for inevitable failure. Hoping to win games by one goal with subpar offence and goaltending facing 35+ shots a night is a delusional method for success.

That being said, we’re still only three games into the season. Don’t label this team “pesky” just yet.

(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)