OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators aren’t catching anyone by surprise anymore.
Ottawa was expected to rank near the bottom of the Eastern Conference this season, but the Senators showed some resiliency during a six-game win streak that caught many off guard.
That roll salvaged a 1-5 start, but now Ottawa has dropped three in a row and lost the element of surprise.
“I think we’re definitely getting more attention,” said Senators forward Nick Foligno on Monday. “I think we were doing a lot of good things, but I think we’ve just gotten away from our game. We were finding ways to win and guys were coming up with big games, big goals. I think we need to get back to our full game.”
The biggest difference between the winning streak and the losing skid is the Senators’ sudden inability to score a power-play goal.
Ottawa’s power play—once ranked the best in the NHL—has gone 0-for-9 in the past three games, the longest stretch this season without scoring on the man advantage.
“Sometimes the numbers can be misleading,” said Jason Spezza, who has been held pointless in the last four games. “I don’t think we’ve gotten away from what we were doing I think we just haven’t put the puck in the net.
“It definitely has to be good for us. The power play, when it’s going good, we’re scoring and it’s definitely an advantage when your special teams are good.”
Like Spezza, Erik Karlsson has also been held pointless in the last three games. There’s no denying the two are instrumental to the Senators success on the power play.
“Sometimes you’re going to have some games where you don’t score any points even though you have great chances and maybe you should have,” said Karlsson. “That’s the way it goes. Sometimes they just keep coming and sometimes no matter what you do you can’t get one.”
Senators coach Paul MacLean hasn’t been completely disappointed by his power-play unit, despite its lack of production. Ottawa remains the third best in the league with an extra skater, producing at a rate of 25.5 per cent.
“It still has generated a lot of momentum and scoring chances,” said MacLean. “The Buffalo game (a 3-2 overtime loss on Saturday) was the first time that I thought we didn’t really generate consistently the way that we had been so that’s the only time. But we need to get back.
“Having a power play that’s effective certainly helps you win games as we’ve seen.”
The absence of captain Daniel Alfredsson has also been an issue for the Senators. Ottawa has won once since Alfredsson was placed on injured reserve with a concussion.
“Every team is going to miss a guy like that,” said MacLean.” He really balances out your offence. It gives another line another dimension, an ability to score.”
Alfredsson has shown signs of progress and skated on his own Monday. MacLean expects Alfredsson to undergo baseline testing Tuesday.
“He’s progressing. He’s made some progress the last couple of days which is very positive,” said MacLean. “He’s gone from riding the bike to actually skating. There’s no timeline on it, but there’s progress.”
The one area that has shown some progress has been the Senators penalty kill. Once the worst in the NHL, Ottawa has now killed off ten of its last 11.
Notes: LW Nikita Filatov was re-assigned to the Binghamton Senators Monday. D Erik Karlsson will be spending time in the dentist’s chair Monday to repair a broken front tooth after taking a puck in the mouth.