Ottawa Senators Need to Consider a Coaching Change

The Ottawa Senators have come oh so close to hitting rock bottom. Currently holding a 6-9-1 record, they are last in the Atlantic Division and second-last in the Eastern Conference. They are near the basement of the NHL with 13 points. Soon enough, they need to consider a coaching change to potentially rectify their season.

Just 16 games into the season, it feels like it is already over. They hold a record of 2-7-1 in their last 10 games and have had some fairly ugly losses in that time frame. If the Senators want a chance at making the playoffs this season, they need to heavily consider moving on from head coach D.J. Smith.

Senators’ Underlying Numbers Are Great, but They Need Results

This was supposed to be the season where everything came together. The painful years of rebuilding were expected to be over, as the additions of Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot were supposed to put this team into the group of playoff contenders.

The process is there, as the Senators are top 10 in multiple major shot quality and quantity stats. Money Puck has them 12th in the NHL in expected goals percentage at 51.35 percent, while their Corsi percentage is 51.55 percent, which is good for ninth-best in the NHL.

Related: 5 Takeaways From Senators GM Pierre Dorion’s Press Conference

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The Senators should be scoring goals and winning games, but the fact is they are not. At some point, the results will need to follow, as they will fall too far behind for a playoff spot. While there is plenty of time left in the season, being six points out of a wildcard spot this early is a major cause for concern.

Their goal differential is plus-1, which shows their play has been inconsistent. When they win, they win big, but they are losing much more often than they win. If a coaching change results in them being more consistent, they could get back on track as a playoff contender.

Senators Could Benefit From a Wake-Up Call

This young Senators team could benefit from a shake-up in the dressing room, as the messages the coaching staff are attempting to send are simply not resonating with them right now.

The Winnipeg Jets, Detroit Red Wings, and Vegas Golden Knights are all teams that missed the playoffs last season, made a coaching change in the offseason, and now find themselves in a playoff spot. The Senators could find themselves enjoying similar results if they choose to move off of Smith.

D.J. Smith, Head Coach of the Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Smith’s line combination changes have worked, but he seems to change them again right as they begin to build chemistry. The newly constructed top line of Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, and Claude Giroux is currently rocking a 67.5 percent expected goals percentage. For some reason, the results have not followed, as the Senators have gone 2-5 since making that change.

Injuries Headline Incredibly Disappointing Start to Season

There is one thing coaching cannot fix, and that is the insurmountable number of injuries that the Senators have endured to start the year. Josh Norris is out until at least the new year, Artem Zub remains out from an upper-body injury, and Thomas Chabot is now week-to-week due to a concussion.

Josh Norris Ottawa Senators
Josh Norris, Ottawa Senators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Luckily for the Senators, injuries have opened up spots for other players to shine. Shane Pinto has eight goals in 16 games to start the season and does not look out of place in the top-six. Jake Sanderson has been arguably the best defenceman on the team, with nine points in 16 games thus far. If the Senators are able to get healthy, there is a chance they potentially turn their season around and contend for a wild card spot.

This was supposed to be the season where the Senators got over the hump. Whether injuries are the biggest factor or the coaching staff is holding this team back, all options need to be on the table when it comes to making changes. General manager Pierre Dorion needs to do something soon, or they are in jeopardy of yet another losing season.

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