For the seventh time since going on a three-game win streak in the second week of November, the Senators lost after winning their previous game.
As Ian Mendes would be happy to point out, the Senators have historically been a streaky team under Paul MacLean, but for whatever reason, their inability to string together wins is putting the team in a position in which the margin for error for error is small.
In years past, the Senators were able to overcome stretches of poor play because they could reel off a proportionately sized winning streak.
It has not happened this year and after two and a half seasons under Paul MacLean in which this team, despite the presence and growth of a number of its top young prospects, has yet to resemble being anything more than a playoff bubble team.
It’s an issue and it has led to a lot of finger pointing and excuse making.
Take Mike Johnson putting it out there late in the broadcast that the flu that kept Marc Methot out of the lineup for a number of games and is making its way through the dressing room; sapping the team’s energy in the process.
While it very well may be true, why are we just learning of the extent of the Senators’ flu situation in the third period of a game in which the Senators are getting hammered on the scoreboard?
Johnson wasn’t alone in bringing forth excuses.
After Paul MacLean emerged from a management-initiated closed door meeting with the players, which is sort of hilarious, because if these guys were really as flu ravaged as they were portrayed to be, you’d figure this would be the last thing the team would do to confine these guys in close quarters together. Unless of course the meeting culminated with Bryan Murray coming into the locker room wearing a neoprene hazmat suit so he could hose this group down and wash away this team’s stink…
Anyways, MacLean emerged from this meeting and held court with the media – dropping some bombs on his players in the process.
"We're an inconsistent group. We can't get the puck out of our zone. We play good against good teams. We play bad against teams below us. That's just a lack of focus, a lack of leadership and that's a lack of us wanting to play in the National Hockey League and be an elite team. We are a long, long way from being an elite team."
While bang on, the shitty part about this quote is that it’s going to be taken up as a rallying cry by the vocal anti-Spezza crowd who will see this as an explicit indictment of his leadership and look to shit on the player at every opportunity. Moreover, maybe the organization could have safeguarded Spezza a little more, especially since there’s no certainty that he’ll remain with the organization once his current contract expires, by putting a one-year moratorium on the team’s captaincy so its players didn’t have to carry the weight of the ‘C’ in the wake of Alfredsson’s departure.
The thing about leadership is that it starts from the top and trickles down through the organization. Thanks to its bitter divorce with Alfredsson, coupled with this organization’s tiresome crying poor routine and fervent appeals to the City Council to build a prospective casino adjacent to the Canadian Tire Centre, this organization has been in disarray.
So much so, that Bryan Murray assuredly has told the players by now that if they don’t shape up, a trade will be made:
I highly doubt we see move before roster freeze unless GM Bryan Murray bears down on the phones tomorrow. He is trying. No question. #Sens
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) December 19, 2013
For a team that the coaching staff doesn’t even consider elite, it’d be incredibly short-sighted on their part to make a move for the sake of making a move to placate the fans.