So, You’re Saying There’s a Chance
Guest Writer: Matthew Moxley (aka Gord_Wilson_2.0)
The Ottawa Senators’ odds of making the playoffs are now at 0.8%. With a loss against the New Jersey Devils Saturday night, the Senators have made it nearly impossible for themselves to make the playoffs. To make matters worse, before the Devil's game, it was announced that Jacob Chychrun and Ridly Greig would essentially miss the rest of the regular season. While the meaningful games were nice in March, the season’s struggles will be too much to overcome.
On a positive note, over the last week or so, the Senators did not look out of place playing the likes of the Devils, Lightning, Bruins, Leafs, Avalanche, and Penguins. The results may not all have gone the Senator’s way, but the group showed resilience after a disappointing Western Canada road trip.
It was interesting in the Devils game to see DJ Smith finally get animated after the Brady Tkachuk incidents in the first period. He clearly wasn’t happy that Tkachuk was the only player to get a penalty during a scrum in front of the Senator’s bench and then had a lengthy chat with the referees about the Tkachuk/Wood fight and looked to have had a hand in making the refs realize that Miles Wood deserved an extra penalty.
Far too often this season DJ Smith seemed too complacent on the bench. Now I am not suggesting that Smith needs to turn into Bob Knight but it’s nice to see some emotion from the coach on behalf of the players. It would also be nice to see that when the team is not playing up to par but one thing at a time, I guess.
Despite the shown emotion, the Senator’s defensive system looked mediocre against the Devils, and it ultimately cost them the game. Heading into the 23/24 season, there will be zero room for error out of the gate. When you have Chabot, Chychrun, Zub, and Sanderson as your solidified top 4, your defence should now be contributing to winning games. You should not be winning despite your defence, which has happened far too often under DJ Smith. For whatever reason, this group just doesn’t look confident in the defensive zone. There are constant miscues, odd-man rushes, and just downright lazy-looking plays.
While the sentiment is that DJ Smith is well-liked by the players, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this team needs a new voice to take the next step. With new ownership coming into the fold, you must assume money will be less of an object than in the past so obtaining an experienced coach might be in the realm of possibility. There will likely be many names available this summer, but 3 names leap out at me.
Alain Vigneault – His last NHL job was in Philadelphia in 2022. He has made the NHL playoffs more often during his coaching career than not. He speaks French which will win fans across the Ontario border. He has experience with up-and-coming teams and high-end offensive firepower with the Sedins in Vancouver.
Paul Maurice – Yes. He is currently coaching the Florida Panthers, but their season has not gone as expected after a dominating year in 21/22 collecting 122 points. The Panthers are battling for a playoff spot this year. It would not be surprising if a new coaching direction is taken if they miss the playoffs and if that happens, the Senators should jump on the opportunity. He is a coach that demands teams stick to a system with accountability.
Bruce Boudreau – Probably the most obvious name available. Boudreau was unceremoniously ousted by Vancouver, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he never wanted to coach again after that ordeal. However, if he does, he will have a special opportunity in Ottawa. He has 8 divisional titles under his belt and has had great regular-season success until recently. For a team looking to get some regular season success themselves, you could do a lot worse than Boudreau.
Finally, I want to thank everyone for reading my guest blogs of late! khawk will be doing the next batch of blogs in April. While I don’t know if a new Sens blogger will be coming, it was fun to write some stuff and have it posted. I had a lot of fun. Special thanks to khawk for doing all the backend work to get these posted. He’s single-handedly kept these going and it provided a space for fans to engage in the comments.
Thanks for reading and take care!