DEJA VU: Senators end up exactly where they were a year ago, with question mark for goalies


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As the Ottawa Senators continue to search for answers before a Black Friday morning against the Anaheim Ducks, including a goalie who can stop the ugly slide, Connor Brown has spoken of finding the most elusive element. important.


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“Winning is just a feeling sometimes and we have to have that feeling in the room,” Brown told reporters after Thursday’s practice at The Pond in Anaheim.

“Guys are frustrated with the result, the wins and the losses, but you have to keep the emotions in check and find that feeling, the feeling of winning.”

There certainly haven’t been many lately. After Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks, the Senators have won just one win in their last 10 games.

With an overall record of 4-12-1, the last dead in the NHL, the Senators are exactly where they were after 17 games during the 2020-21 season. The Senators have scored 44 goals and allowed 65 this season. In 2020-21, they had scored 40 points and allowed 69 points in the first 17 games.


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The Senators were actually on top at this point last season, just coming off a wild, crazy 6-5 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was the contest that saw the Senators recover from a 5-1 deficit. In what was Evgenii Dadonov’s best game in an Ottawa uniform, he scored twice – including the game winner in overtime – and made a decisive save in front of his own net in overtime.

The victory allowed the Senators to breathe a little bit more after their difficult start.

As Brown pointed out, it’s an attitude and mindset that they could definitely use again now.

Wednesday against the Sharks, they had victory within reach. They were leading 3-2 at the end of the second period before relinquishing a power play to close the period and the game-winner Timo Meier with 8:42 remaining. A pair of empty-net goals for the Sharks put the game out of reach, but after another shaky exit from Matt Murray, Smith made some pointed comments.


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“We have to find someone to take the net for us and start winning us a few games,” Smith said. “We need someone to come in and hold us right now. We’re a young team who probably need someone to steal one from us.

Murray is 0-5, with a 3.26 goals-against average and 0.890 save percentage. By comparison, Anaheim number one goaltender John Gibson is 9-5-2, averaging 2.53 and save percentage of .920.

At least two of the goals against the Sharks should have been saved. It’s not good enough and the fan base’s patience is running out, if it hasn’t completely gone.

It would make sense for Smith to turn to Filip Gustavsson, who has won three of the Senators’ four wins this season, but the coach did not announce his starting goalie after practice. It’s also interesting to note here that the Senators will play again on Saturday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings and that Anton Forsberg is also on the trip.


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There was more to the Sharks loss than Murray.

Captain Brady Tkachuk took the heat for an unruly late second period penalty that allowed the Sharks to level the score 3-3. Meier’s goal came after the Senators’ fourth line and defensive tandem Nick Holden and Artem Zub failed to clear the puck from his own zone. The Sharks then froze the game with a pair of empty-net goals.

On Thursday, Smith was trying to turn the page as much as possible, emphasizing the positives. It was certainly an improvement over the general neglect of Monday’s 7-5 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

“Everything was better overall,” Smith said. “We have been more detailed. We were more physical. I was happy with everything, apart from the result.


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The Senators’ training plan emphasized covering the defensive zone that has collapsed far too often.

“Take care of the loose game in front of our net as a whole,” said Smith. “It’s not just the (defenders), it’s the crosses and the wingers. We need to clean this up and we did a good job (Thursday).

While the goaltender’s decision remains in abeyance, the Senators will retain the same combinations of attacking and defense they used against the Sharks.

That means Tim Stuetzle will be back in center, with Brown and Nick Paul on his wings.

Brown thought the line worked well together, with Paul helping Stuetzle with some of the defensive tasks inside the Senators’ blue line.

“I really think we saw (Stuetzle) skate in the middle of the ice,” he said. “I thought he and me were playing pretty well together in the neutral zone and creating control entrances and that led to changes in the attacking zone. We will try to build on it. I think it’s important that he and I develop a certain chemistry with (Paul) and that it moves forward. It is a step in the right direction.

Ultimately, however, the biggest springboard for rediscovering the win column is for a goalie to make key saves at pivotal moments.

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