If an all-Canadian Division comes to pass — which most believe it will – the Ottawa Senators could be in tough to do much more than finish near the bottom of the NHL standings again. While the team has made improvements in the offseason, The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian argues the team hasn’t improved enough to move up in the standings and the team could be in for a rough season.
Admitting that their being at a starting point in a full-on rebuild means the Senators were going to be in tough against any opponent, Salvian points out the Senators’ history with Canadian teams is especially troubling. Given that they’ve been historically underperforming (in a small sample size, mind you) against other Canadian franchises — the team went 4-8-2 in 14 games against Canadian teams, for .357 point percentage — the scribe also notes that the other Canadian clubs improved as much, if not more than Ottawa did this offseason.
The Senators key additions of Evgenii Dadonov and Matt Murray will help, but when you consider Edmonton added Tyson Barrie, Kyle Turris and Jesse Puljujarvi, as just one example, the Senators don’t net out as having improved. Calgary added Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev, while Toronto added T.J. Brodie, Wayne Simmonds and Joe Thornton. Vancouver added Nate Schmidt and Montreal improved dramatically, adding pieces like Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson. Meanwhile, some of the American teams made changes, but many did not.
The Senators won’t get the play the Detroits and Buffalos of the NHL.
In 23 games within the Atlantic Division last season, the Senators went 9-10-4; a much better record. This season will throw all of that right out the window if division realignment becomes a reality. Then, when you consider travel to the Western Conference Canadian clubs will be taxing for Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, Salvian argues that this won’t help either, since the road swings were not kind to Ottawa last season.
Is Ottawa’s Previous Record Really the Issue?
The question worth asking is, ‘How much of this is really an issue?’. There’s so much uncertainty surrounding next season that it’s hard to use last year’s statistics to make any kind of accurate predictions about what to expect this season. The teams are different, the environment will be different and the travel will be different for everyone.
At the end of the day, the Senators are a team that has some good young pieces but a lot of inexperience and they’ll be tasked to shut down some of the best scorers in the NHL in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Elias Pettersson, Patrik Laine and others. They’ll have to do so far more often than they’ve ever had to in the past.
That inexperience and that repeated barrage of offense coming at them night after night could be the bigger issue.
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