After the layout of the NHL being reshuffled into 4 divisions, the Sens finished 5th in the Atlantic Division (yup, still weird to write) that included Ottawa’s historical Northeast Division rivals, as well as the 2 Florida teams in the Panthers and Lightning, and the Detroit Red Wings moving over from the Western Conference. With a 37-31-14 record and 88 points, the Senators finished 11th in the Eastern Conference and 21st overall.
The Senators were probably the biggest overachievers of the 2012-13 campaign and earned a round 1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs. With a young core gaining valuable playoff experience, the consensus was that the Sens could build off their 7th-place Eastern Conference finish and have an outside shot at snagging home ice in the playoffs.
- If there are any lists out there ranking breakout players of this past season, Kyle Turris would be near or at the top of all of them. Turris has slowly improved each season of his NHL career and seemed to put it all together this year, leading the team in goals, with 26, and putting up 58 points. Needless to say, he logged career highs in all offensive categories and arguably just as impressively, was a plus-22 on a team that had a minus-29 goal differential (25th in the league).
- The signing of Clarke MacArthur was extremely under-the-radar considering it came on the same day that Alfie signed with Detroit and the Senators acquired Bobby Ryan. But by the end of the season, Sens fans realized the significance of MacArthur’s presence. He appeared to have instant chemistry with Turris and the duo were consistently Ottawa’s best forwards- by far, I might add. MacAthur boasted a stat-line of 24-31-55 (all his highest totals since 2010-11) and added a bit of an edge to the Sens’ forward group. The fact that he was scooped up from the Maple Leaf’s is icing on the cake.
- The arrival of Cody Ceci ahead of schedule was surprising and the fact that Ceci stayed up with Ottawa for the duration of the season was a flat out shocking. The local product looks like he’ll be a fixture on the Sens’ blueline for years to come.
- A year removed from being second in the NHL in goals against after Chicago, the team pulled a complete 180, ranking 27th this year. Blame can certainly be spread around here. On defense, Marc Methot was unable to replicate his solid play from his first season in Ottawa, Karlsson was a minus-15, even while putting up 74 points, and Chris Phillips’ continued to deteriorate with age. Between the pipes, no one was expecting Anderson to put up all world numbers like last season, but he was extremely inconsistent posting a 3.00 GAA and .911 SV%. Talks about Robin Lehner being the stud of the future also cooled off, with the young Swede failing to take advantage of multiple opportunities to grab the #1 reigns and posting numbers of 3.06 GAA and .913 SV%.
- After 17 seasons in Ottawa, the Senators dearly missed their captain, Daniel Alfredsson. As the only major loss from last year’s surprising squad, all indications point to the Sens missing the leadership and steady play of their legend, totally regressing. With enormous shoes to fill, Spezza was doomed from the get-go. He was last on the team in +/- (minus- 26) and spent chunks of the season playing outside the top-6 up front.
- With Alfredsson out of the picture, the addition of Bobby Ryan was something Sens fans could look forward to. Unfortunately, year 1 of Ryan was extremely underwhelming. He was on pace to easily eclipse the 30-goal plateau throughout the fall but sustained a hernia injury in November which hampered his play for the rest of the season. Ryan finished the campaign with 23 goals and 48 points in 70 games which isn’t exactly what fans were hoping for.
PROGNOSIS FOR NEXT SEASON
Although it’s difficult to picture what the Sens’ roster will look like in the fall amidst trade speculation involving Jason Spezza, 1 thing is for certain- next year is very much a make-or-break year for this franchise. Next season could play out in so many different ways. With almost the entire roster underachieving this year, it is not difficult to picture this team bouncing back and looking like the young squad that won a playoff series a year ago. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to picture the Senators continuing their regression after a year filled with inconsistency and abysmal defense.
5 QUESTIONS WITH SENSHOT
Our editor, Jared Crozier, answers the burning questions regarding this past season and what the future has in store for the Senators.
1. What was the biggest surprise for the Sens?
The emergence of Cody Ceci over the second half of the season. He arrived at least a year ahead of schedule, and he showed he belonged in the NHL. He still has a lot to learn, but he didn’t look out of place and should be a mainstay with the club from now on.
2. What was the biggest disappointment for Ottawa?
The goaltending tandem of Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner. Supposed to be one of the strengths heading into the season, they were very inconsistent and lost more games than they stole for a team that really needed them, especially Anderson. Perhaps expecting Vezina type numbers from Anderson again was a bit much, but he really took a step backwards and Lehner didn’t seize the opportunity to step in and take the #1 spot.
3. What is the biggest need going forward?
The Senators need coach Paul MacLean to get back to the old MacLean that the players enjoyed playing for. His “tough love” approach didn’t work, and it was addressed in the team’s exit meetings. It wasn’t broke, and MacLean tried to fix it, and if he can regress it would actually be a good thing.
4. Who was Ottawa’s MVP this season?
I would say it would be a tie between Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. These two developed tremendous chemistry and became a solid duo to the point where the third guy on the line (in most cases Bobby Ryan) wasn’t even necessary for them to have success. Turris’ growth has been exceptional, while MacArthur gave more offensive support than anyone would have expected.
5. What #hashtag would you use to describe the team’s season or state of the team?