As the regular season winds down, with the hopes of playoffs officially dead, the Ottawa Senators must decide how to approach the last handful of games. This decision must be made by both the head coach and the general manager. The biggest question mark is who to run with in net?
The existing options might sound simple but it’s a bit more complicated the more you look at it. The first option would be to trust the veteran Cam Talbot in what could be his last few games as an Ottawa Senator. Unfortunately for the Sens, the Talbot experience has not fared great, especially in recent games.
Talbot has allowed 8 goals in the last 39 shots he has faced. His worst game of the season hands down was the game against Philadelphia where he allowed 4 goals on 11 shots. His save percentage that night was .636%. Altogether this season, he has appeared in 35 games and went 16-14-2 while posting a .900 S% and 2.89 GAA. It’s already been reported that he will most likely walk this free agency period, as he’s asking for 5 million dollars per season and it is unlikely that the Senators will meet that asking price.
Mads Sogaard has seen ups and downs this season but is most recently on a hot streak. He began this season in the AHL and has not had the best numbers, but that could be attributed to the lackluster results the entire team has seen this season. In the NHL, he’s been much better. He’s had a lot more great games than not-so-great. However, he had a stretch where he allowed 4-5 goals every game for a couple of games, and that ate away at his numbers. In 7 of his 16 games this season, he has allowed 4 or 5 goals, and in the rest, he has allowed 3 goals twice. That means he has allowed 2 or fewer goals in 7 games this season, as many games as he’s allowed 4 or more.
Leevi Merilainen is coming off his first NHL start. A game in which he saved 34 of 37 shots, three nights after having a 41-save shutout in his first-ever AHL start. Although this is a very very small sample size, he has proven that he has potential and that he might be further along in his development than I originally anticipated. I still think he ultimately needs to start next season in the AHL. He impressed in his NHL debut as I mentioned, but his second NHL game was not as impressive. A simple reminder that he is 20 years old and has played a grand total of three games on North America ice.
Want your voice heard? Join the SenShot team!
If it were my choice, Cam Talbot has played his last game as an Ottawa Senator. I’ve been supportive of him this season and wish him the absolute best, but he’s been surpassed on the depth chart this season by two rookies who are keeping the Senators’ season alive, while he’s just continued to hammer nails in the coffin that is their playoff hopes. I think Mads Sogaard and Merilainen SHOULD get to alternate the final three games, but with Merilainen being sent back down to the AHL earlier today, the chances are that Talbot will get in a game, or two. After that, it’s a question mark. I’d like the Sens to go after a goalie like Adin Hill or Laurent Brossoit this offseason to serve as Forsberg’s backup this season, and then the next season one of Merilainen or Sogaard could fight for that backup spot, and eventually take over the starting role while the other spends the year in the AHL and comes as the backup at some point in the future.