Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman scored the lone goal for his team in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night. The goal was the 25-year-old’s 13th of the season, which is actually the most among all Sens players this year.
The Senators currently sit 11th in the Eastern Conference and a big reason for that is because they have a rookie leading them in scoring with just 13 goals. Of course the team must be thrilled that Hoffman is having a strong rookie campaign- he is still considered a
rookie despite playing 25 games for the club last season- but the fact that he is points more to the fact that veteran players are underachieving more than Hoffman is overachieving.
The team currently ranks 22nd in the league with 100 goals for this season and 20th with a 2.56 goals per game. This is a large dip from last season when the team finished 11th in the NHL with a 2.79 goals per game.
Pointing the Finger
Early on captain Erik Karlsson and centre Kyle Turris lead the team with 27 points in 39 games this year, putting each of them on pace to only reach 56 points come season’s end. For Karlsson, who lead the team in scoring last season, that would see him record 18 fewer points than he did last season.
However, there are a lot of underachieving Senators this season. One of those is Czech forward Milan Michalek. The 30-year-old had a career year with the Sens in 2011-12 where he finished amongst the top of the league in goals with 35 in 77 games. But since that impressive output Michalek has drastically fallen off recording just 24 goals since; a span of 140 games. This year Michalek has put up a mere three goals and nine points through 35 games.
It is also safe to say that the team has not gotten the production they were hoping for from Bobby Ryan when they acquired him during the 2012-13 off-season. During his time with the Sens the 27-year-old sniper has just 34 goals and 74 points in 104 games. To put those numbers into perspective, Ryan hit the 30-goal plateau in each of his first four full seasons with the Anaheim Ducks,
including 71 points in 82 games in 2010-11.
The departure of captain Jason Spezza can also explain their drop in scoring. Spezza put up 23 goals and 66 points last season with the team and after being traded to the Dallas Stars this past off-season, the team failed to bring in someone capable of replacing his offence. The team also saw Ales Hemsky sign with the Stars and though he is having a season to forget in Dallas, and only recorded four goals with the Senators, the nifty forward still had 17 points in 20 games with the club.
On the Bright Side
Last season Turris lead the team with 26 goals, so one silver-lining could be the fact that Hoffman’s 13 to date put him on pace for 28 this season. The team’s fifth round pick in 2009 is currently two points behind Florida Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad for third in rookie scoring.
The player who really seems to be keeping the team somewhat a float this season is goaltender Craig Anderson. The 33-year-old looks to have returned to his 2012-13 form where he put up an unbelievable .941 save percentage and a 1.69 goals against average. This season Anderson is rocking a 9.29 SP and a 2.33 GAA and could very well be in contention for the Vezina Trophy at the end of the year.
New Coach Helping
Last month the Senators fired former Jack Adam’s winner and head coach Paul MacLean. Assistant coach Dave Cameron took over coaching duties and the team has gone 5-4-3 since the move. During the time the team has also put 32 pucks past their opposition good enough for 2.67 goals per game.
The team has been scoring a touch more than they had before the move, but the team is going to have to find a way to do more of it if they want to find a spot in the post-season come April.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.