By the Numbers: Slumping Senators falling out of playoff picture
The Ottawa Senators went into the March 3 trade deadline on a high note, beating the Montreal Canadiens soundly before dismantling the Detroit Red Wings in back-to-back games and then edging the New York Rangers the night before the deadline.
The good times kept rolling after the deadline as well as they beat the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks.
However, the Senators’ season has since gone in a different direction. Since March 9, they are 1-5 in their last six games and head into Monday’s critical matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins on a five-game winless streak.
Looking like they were making a late charge in the wild-card race in the Eastern Conference, the Senators have fallen seven points back of the Penguins and eight back of the New York Islanders for the two wild-card spots. The Penguins have lost three consecutive games heading the contest with the Florida Panthers one point behind them.
In the five losses, Ottawa has scored 14 goals but have allowed a glaring 26 goals against in that span. The Senators have been relying on a pair of rookies to carry them through with veterans Cam Talbot and Anton Forsberg both on the injured reserve.
Mads Sogaard, 22, has started four of the five games, facing an average of 30 shots against while allowing a combined 18 goals. In the 5-1 loss to Calgary on March 12, 22-year-old Kevin Mandolese let in five goals on 39 shots against in just his third career NHL game.
Captain Brady Tkachuk (three goals and five points in his last three games) and Tim Stutzle (12 points in six games) have continued to be productive offensively for the Senators but several of their other top players have been struggling to find the scoresheet.
Alex DeBrincat has one goal in his last nine games and just one assist during this five-game winless skid. While he has 21 goals this season, he is well off his last two campaigns in Chicago, where he netted 32 and 41 goals in back-to-back years.
Drake Batherson has one goal in his last five with two assists. Batherson and DeBrincat own the worst plus-minus marks on the Senators this season at -35 and -27 respectively. DeBrincat is a glaring -8 during the past five games and Batherson at -4.
Claude Giroux has also struggled lately with one goal in his last five games and one assist in the last four games.
Trade deadline acquisition Jakob Chychrun has zero points in his last five games while fellow defenceman Thomas Chabot has two assists in his last eight games.
In the 13 games left on their schedule, Ottawa will only see Eastern Conference opponents for the remainder of the season, including two games against the Panthers who are six points up on the Sens in the wild card race.
The Senators have missed the playoffs five years in a row and if they don’t have a miraculous turnaround for the last few weeks of the season, it will be a sixth straight season without postseason action in Ottawa.