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Season Recap

More change may be coming for inconsistent Senators

Return of coaching staff a question mark after disappointing season

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- The only time the Ottawa Senators were consistent this season was when they answered the question about went wrong and why the team missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

The answer: inconsistency.

The Senators, who believed they were good enough to be in the playoffs, didn't have a winning streak longer than four games, which they managed twice, once in November and again in February. Their longest losing streak was four games and they finished with a 38-35-9 record.

A big impediment to the Senators playing consistent, competitive hockey was their tendency of giving up the first goal of the game, which happened 51 times. They came back to win 14 of those games and earned another point in an overtime or shootout loss seven times.

The Senators were outshot 60 times. They ranked 27th in the NHL in Shot Attempts Percentage from Close at 46.91 percent.

Another big issue was special teams. They had the League's 30th-ranked power play at home (15 goals scored) and were 29th in penalty killing.

Those are all difficult numbers to overcome when trying to mount any kind of winning streak.

It didn't help that the Senators lost some key veterans for most of the season. Defenseman Chris Phillips was lost for the season after back surgery last summer and forward Clarke MacArthur, a top six forward, sustained a concussion in the fourth game of the season and did not return.

"Going into the season, I think we had a good team," Senators captain Erik Karlsson said. "Getting some injuries on some of our key players, I think, hurt us more than we think and we didn't really have anything to back it up. Unfortunately when times got tough, we didn't really get everything out of everybody that we needed and that's the way it is sometimes." 

Video: OTT@BOS: Smith tips puck by Gustavsson

WHAT THEY SAID: "We are not playing right now and that hurts. It's definitely well below our expectations as professionals, a group, as an organization. Inconsistency is probably the best word for us. We weren't able to string anything together for extended periods of time. We were are group that found our game several times this year to play well. It just seemed we weren't able to sustain it over a long period of time." - goalie Craig Anderson

THE BURNING QUESTION: The future of coach Dave Cameron and his staff is up in the air. Pierre Dorion, named Senators general manager on Sunday, was asked about Cameron's future and said he is evaluating all aspects of the organization, including the work of the coaching staff. The performance of the special teams will be a big part of that evaluation.

INJURIES: Defenseman Dion Phaneuf had an injury to an oblique muscle and a fractured foot. Forward Curtis Lazar had a groin injury. Forward Mark Stone missed the end of the season with a sore neck, but said he has recovered and will play for Canada at the world championships. MacArthur (concussion) said he has recovered, is ready for a full summer of training and will be ready to go at training camp.

WHO COULD GO: The Senators have three unrestricted free agents who finished the season with the team, but none of them look to be in their future plans: forward Scott Gomez, who was signed after the Trade Deadline as insurance when the decision was made to shut down center Kyle Turris (ankle sprain), and defensemen Michael Kostka and Phillips, who is expected to retire because of a back injury.

WHO COULD ARRIVE: Dorion said he is looking to bolster the team at the forward position and adding a top-six forward would be the priority this summer. The Senators could also use a veteran depth defenseman.

2016 DRAFT PICKS: The Senators have six draft picks, one in each of the first six rounds.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM: The Senators have a talented core of young players starting with Karlsson (82 points), a contender to win his third Norris Trophy, that helped them score 230 goals this season, ninth in the League. That is an impressive number, especially when you consider they had the fewest power-play goals in the League at home. If they had even an average power play at home, they had a chance to be in the top three in goals scored. The offense is there. If the Senators can figure out how to cut down the shots and goals against (they allowed 241 goals, 26th in the League) and improve their special teams, a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs is realistic. The addition of Phaneuf and the improved play of partner Cody Ceci after Phaneuf's arrival in early February bode well for some improved defensive play for the Senators.

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