It’s no secret by now that the Ottawa Senators are victim of the injury bug. In fact, to call it a “bug” would be to call the diseases in zombie movies a “bug”. This isn’t something the team will get over in a week or two: it’s a full-blown outbreak. Thankfully Kyle Turris, Ben Bishop and the whole team haven’t run for cover.
Get a load of this injury list: Mike Lundin is day-to-day with a concussion, so is David Dziurzynski. Milan Michalek is day-to-day with a knee injury that has plagued him all season. Craig Anderson, he of the Vezina Trophy worthy numbers, is day-to-day with an ankle problem. Jared Cowen (hip) and Erik Karlsson (achilles), two of the team’s young guns on defense, are done for the season. Jason Spezza, who had back surgery, is out “indefinitely” but that’s pretty much going to be the season.
That’s ludicrous. You would think with that kind of luck, the Sens would be in the cellar of the Eastern Conference, right? YOU’D BE WRONG. Of course you’d be. Can you not sense the tone of this piece? GAH.
Through 29 games, after a productive weekend that saw them beat the lowly Sabres and the completely bipolar Jets, the Sens sit 5th in the East; a full four points ahead of 6th-place Toronto. How is this even possible? Besides Toronto being Toronto and being slightly above mediocre at best (GO LEAFS GO).
Skating like there’s no tomorrow helps. This team hustles and hustles and hustles because they just don’t have the talent to compete unless they skate themselves to death. Being fast and physical goes a long way and this team does both in spades. There’s also something to be said for having steadfast leadership and Daniel Alfredsson has been there since the beginning of time (circa 1995).
Not only that but they are getting strong enough goaltending to get them through. It’s not Anderson level (who has been this year?) but Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop have been getting the job done and keeping the Sens in games. I suppose you can only expect your second and third-string goalies to carry the load for so long but until they fall apart like an old Chevy Nova, right that beast as far as you can. Just don’t be surprised when it collapses on the freeway and you’re crushed by a semi. That analogy got away from me but you get it.
It also helps that they still are the best team in the league in goals against and the second best on the penalty kill. Keeping the puck out of your net is very important and yet some teams do not understand this and fail miserably.
And how about Kyle Turris? When the Sens made the trade for him during his contract dispute with Phoenix, it looked questionable. Or insane when you consider the Sens gave up promising young defender David Runblad and a 2nd round pick for a guy with career-highs of 11 goals and 25 points. But to be fair: he was still young and he was a former 3rd overall pick.
Since he’s come to Ottawa, Turris improved on his totals slightly last year and has been strong this year with 19 points in 29 games. He leads the team in scoring and he’s clearly making an impact with his skill. When he gets his talented teammates back from the MASH unit, he stands to only improve. He’s carrying the load now, imagine what he’ll be like when the cast around him can take off some of the pressure.
How long can this last? Only time will tell but getting a few pieces back (presumably Lundin, Anderson, Dziurzynski, and goal-scoring leader Michalek) will bolster a team that refuses to go away. They are well-coached, getting stellar goaltending, and will strive to outwork anyone they play.
At the rate the Ottawa Senators are going, you’ll have to hacksaw up their next three goalies, four leading scorers, and leave them down to their #12 defenseman before we start seeing any change in results. Don’t you realize you can’t kill them unless you aim for the head? Otherwise — they keep trudging on.