That the Ottawa Senators go into tomorrow night’s game against the New York Rangers riding a streak of 178 minutes and 30 seconds without a goal at home provides a fitting exclamation mark to just how much trouble this team has had scoring this season.
This is getting scary folks, and you didn’t have to watch two straight goose eggs on home ice last week to realize it. The Senators are on pace to score a historically low number of goals, which is saying something for this franchise. If the Senators keep up their current clip of low productivity, they will score fewer goals this season than they did during the bad old days of the early 1990s and during the pre-lockout NHL when hockey resembled the rodeo more than shinny.
After last night’s 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Senators had a paltry 62 goals in 29 games. Projected over the course of the season, that would give them 175 goals, which would represent the lowest goals-per-game total in modern franchise history. The Senators were on pace to give up 240 goals this season, which is two more than last season.
But it’s their inability to get the puck into the other net that will be the downfall of this team if it doesn’t make the playoffs. Going into last night’s games, Daniel Alfredsson led the Senators in scoring with eight goals and 18 points in 28 games. That was good for a tie for 75th place in NHL scoring. In the past 13 seasons, the lowest the top scorer for the Senators has finished in overall NHL scoring was 51st, and that was in 1999-2000 when certain top-10 scorer Alexei Yashin sat out the season and Radek Bonk led the team in scoring.
But it goes even deeper than that. For example, did you know that going into last night the Senators were one of only two teams in the NHL so far — the low-scoring Nashville Predators were the other — that has yet to come back from a two-or-more goal deficit to tie a game? That might have been acceptable during the pre-lockout days when a two-goal lead meant almost certain victory, but it is not in the new NHL.
So here’s to hoping the Senators can score early and give their fans something to cheer about tomorrow night. If not, that smattering of empty seats you see almost every game is bound to grow.