If there’s one way to describe the Ottawa Senators and their season past the midway mark, it’s been a roller coaster. From the ability of Erik Karlsson and the finesse that he has displayed this season on both ends of the ice, to the deflating offensive lineup shifts and the ongoing battle with injuries, every day has been different with this team. As they make the push to rejoin the playoff race while the All-Star Game approaches, one thing is certain – the Senators’ are desperate to find their consistency.
“This league is about balance, finding balance. We have to find our balance” – Dave Cameron (Ottawa Sun)
Balance. Consistency. Call it whatever you like, the Senators’ haven’t found it. And after allowing seven goals in two separate games since returning from the holiday break as well as battling a scoreless drought that lasted almost the length of three full games, there is reason for panic.
Balance In the Lineup
One of the many things that has deemed Ottawa’s “roller-coaster” status has been the lineups this season. Dave Cameron has shown no mercy when it comes shaking things up. Whether or not you’ve found his decisions to be the right ones, players need time to develop chemistry together. Until recently, Cameron hasn’t been giving his power play or his top six forwards the chance to do that.
On the defensive side of things, playing time has turned into a competition. Seeming that the Senators’ have finally had enough of Jared Cowen, the eyes now turn to Fredrik Claesson and Chris Wideman. Lately, it’s been Claesson getting the nod, being given the chance to play with Karlsson in his first season of NHL action. But, with his recent struggles, Wideman is likely to see more time after putting on an impressive performance so far this season.
Marc Methot has been the one taking the brunt of the changes on the back-end. Typically, Methot and Karlsson make a great defensive pair. But, with the new faces, Methot is getting shuffled around – splitting his time between the 2nd and 3rd pairing alongside either Cody Ceci or Mark Borowiecki.
Bottom Six Consistency
Throughout the season, Ottawa’s bottom six forwards have struggled to produce. In eight games following the holiday break, the Senators’ bottom six have combined for just six points, while 3rd line centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau hasn’t recorded a point since December 20th against Tampa Bay. In order for this team to compete for a playoff spot, many of their bottom six forwards need to step up their game.
“Hockey changes at Christmas, changes again after the all-star break and it’s going to change going down the stretch. There’s a realization of what’s at stake,” – Dave Cameron (Ottawa Sun)
With a playoff spot at stake, the stretch to the All-Star break and the rest of the season is in Ottawa’s hands as the battle for balance and consistency lingers.