Lately the Senators are doing have been doing their best Adrian Peterson impersonation by repeatedly fumbling the ball when it matters most. With a 1-4-1 record in their past six games, Ottawa's squandering their opportunity to secure a home ice advantage for the playoffs. While it's not a fait accompli, it is disconcerting when you look at the team's polarizing home-and-away splits:
- Home: 23-9-4
- Away: 14-18-1
Like I mentioned in my last article, it hasn't been the Senators ability to keep the puck out of the net that has let this team down. Since the Olympic break, the team has actually been in the top third of the League for the least number of goals allowed. Unfortunately, they have also done a pretty good job keeping the puck out of their opposition's net. So what's been the problem?
“He’s like everybody else on our team, just having trouble scoring. You can’t just single one guy out and say he’s playing poorly. To me, it’s no different than you ‘win as a team and lose as a team.’ There’s another 10 or 12 guys we count on to provide at least a little offence. He has to use his creativity.” ~ Cory Clouston
Now who is The Little General referring to?
Alexei Kovalev of course. The poster child for the Ottawa Senators’ offensive struggles.TM (Ed. note: TM by the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren.)
Like Warren mentioned in his most recent article, in the six games since the break, Kovalev has zero goals, zero assists, a plus/minus of minus-six and 10 shots on net. Impeccable numbers by Bill Muckalt standards but not exactly the kind of production that one expects from a dynamic offensive talent who is expected to carry the load on Ottawa's second line. For Kovalev, I understand why he gets a bum rap since he's not that defensively apt. Unlike some of Ottawa's other skilled forwards, when he's not producing offensively, he's rarely contributing in other facets of the game. I get that.
However, it has become laughable at how much press AK-27 gets when he's not producing. (Ed. note: This isn't a gripe against Warren, I enjoy his work.) Regardless of this 6-game stretch of uninspired play, based on proportionate ice-time, Kovalev has been the Senators' most productive forward. There are others who are worthy of having their productivity questioned:
- Daniel Alfredsson: 1 goal in his past 11 games.
- Milan Michalek: 2 goals and 1 assist in his past 8 games. He's also on course to post his worst point total totals since his rookie season. I'm a bit
- Mike Fisher: 2 goals and 3 assists in his past 13 games.
- Ryan Shannon: The diminutive forward hasn't scored since January 19th and only has 5 goals on the year. Ottawa shouldn't have had to rely on him to produce, but I think everyone expected more out of Shannon than he has shown thus far.
- Peter Regin: Hasn't scored in his past 6 games. In fact, his rookie season has reminded me a lot of Antoine Vermette's: He has shown some flashes of offensive brilliance but needs to finish more of scoring opportunities.
Like Cory Clouston said, it's a systemic problem that goes beyond just Kovalev. More media attention and focus needs to be shed on the collective because this whole enigma angle is played out and tiresome.
Cheechoo Train Riding The Buses
The San Jose Mercury News ran a feature detailing Jonathan Cheechoo's struggles in the minors. According to the paper, Cheechoo is among those caught off guard by the latest career twist.
"I didn't see this coming," he said. And now I think I know why Cheechoo has struggled to return to his Rocket Richard Trophy winning form. He obviously can no longer see. Carkner vs. Orr The progression of these fights mirrors my interest level in the progression of the Rocky movies. Wake me up when one of Carkner's fights is ready to stop the next Cold War.
"I didn't see this coming," he said.
And now I think I know why Cheechoo has struggled to return to his Rocket Richard Trophy winning form. He obviously can no longer see.
Carkner vs. Orr
The progression of these fights mirrors my interest level in the progression of the Rocky movies. Wake me up when one of Carkner's fights is ready to stop the next Cold War.