The Senators were back on the ice in Edmonton on Monday, a day after another embarrassing loss.
Ottawa was outscored 8-5 by the Oilers on Sunday night to extend the Sens’ winless skid to eight games. The Sens (1-7-1) have not won since their season-opening 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 15.
“I think everyone is fragile at this point,” said head coach D.J. Smith after Monday’s practice. The Senators are all alone in the basement in the North Division and dead last in the NHL’s overall standings.
The Senators have now lost all five games on this current seven-game road trip and been outscored 30-11. Ottawa will face the Oilers again on Tuesday before finishing its road trip Thursday against the Canadiens in Montreal.
“You go into a season with expectations to be competitive every night and things haven't turned our way,” said Smith. “But one thing in the world is: Not everything is easy and when it's not, that's when you learn the most about yourself and about your team. And as a coach, as well, you find out how resourceful you can be, how do you find a way to get out of this? And when you do, you're always better for it.
“It feels like you're never going to get out of it when you're in it, but when you do get out, you're always better for it.”
Subpar effort from No. 1, 2 goalies
Just how they get out of “it” is the question. There’s no question the goaltending duo of Matt Murray and Marcus Hogberg has been subpar, to put it mildly. Ottawa has the highest goals-against average in the league at a staggering 4.89.
Murray was pulled just seven minutes or so into Sunday’s game against the Oilers after allowing three goal on nine shots. In his last four starts, the veteran netminder has been pulled twice and has a 6.46 GAA and an .811 save percentage.
“It’s a tough situation for sure,” said Murray. “But I have been through stretches like this. I think most hockey players have. It’s not fun, obviously, but at the end of the day you just try to worry about getting better each and every day.”
With Hogberg not fairing much better (4.71 GAA and .849 SV%), there has been a growing call from Senators fans to give the team’s third string goalie, Joey Daccord, a start to see if he can get a win.
Smith understands the growing frustration and said he has thought about the possibility of using Daccord, but for now it appears the organization wants either Murray or Hogberg to work their way through this.
"All options are available to us,” said Smith. “You know, at this point, we just need a win to stop the bleeding so it doesn't matter whoever we're going to use (they’ve) got to give us a game.”
Needless penalties, faceoff woes
While the puck stoppers are taking a lot of the heat for the Sens’ poor record in 2020-21, they haven’t been getting a lot of help.
Taking too many penalties doesn’t help the cause as the Sens have been assessed 45 minor penalties so far this season. They have too many defensive breakdowns and struggle to control the puck. Ottawa is 29th in faceoff winning percentage (44.4 per cent) and last in defensive zone draws (37.6 per cent)
“We have to do a better job getting 50-50 faceoffs or winning the faceoff, said Smith. “We're 28 per cent in PK faceoffs so all these things are causing major issues because the other team starts with a puck. It’s simple, if you have the puck, they can't score, so we have to be better.”
Chabot still hurting
The Senators are expected to ice the same lineup Tuesday as they did Sunday night, meaning Thomas Chabot will most likely miss a second straight game. The Senators’ best defenceman has not skated very much since leaving Thursday’s game in Vancouver after colliding with the goal post.
“He skated there for a bit today,” said Smith. “I haven't talked to the trainers yet to see how he felt. He looked all right in the early going; we just wanted him out there for a few minutes.”
The rebuilding Senators were aware there would be struggles throughout the season and say they remain committed to finding a solution that will result in a victory soon.
“We’re aware of the situation, but we’re staying positive, said Brady Tkachuk. “We're going to get out of this eventually and our focus is always on the next one, so we put that one (Sunday’s loss) behind us and create some positivity, create some good Mojo going to the next one.”
Senators lines Monday – No changes from Sunday’s game against Edmonton:
Tkachuk - Norris - C. Brown
Paul - White - Dadonov
Stützle - Tierney - Batherson
Paquette - Stepan - Watson
Galchenyuk - Anisimov - Haley
Reilly - Zaitsev
Coburn - Gudbranson
J. Brown - Zub