NEW YORK -- The Ottawa Senators have shown marked improvements in their overall game since coach Dave Cameron took over for Paul MacLean on Dec. 8. The results, though, have been the same.
The Senators were 11-11-5 under MacLean before he was fired; they're 7-7-3 under Cameron heading into their game Tuesday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The fact that in 17 games under Cameron the Senators have had the puck considerably more than they did in 27 games under MacLean and as a result have been able to establish more of a transition game has not shown up on the scoreboard.
The Senators are still giving up approximately the same number of goals under Cameron (2.7 per game) that they gave up under MacLean (2.66) even though under Cameron they have a better 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage, according to War-on-ice.com, and are giving up more than five fewer shots on goal per game.
Ottawa's 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage under Cameron is 52.5; it was 47.7 under MacLean. The Senators are allowing 29.1 shots on goal per game under Cameron; they gave up 34.4 per game under MacLean. For more on that click here.
Bobby Ryan, who has one goal in his past seven games, spoke with NHL.com Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden to go over some of the reasons he thinks the Senators are improving under Cameron but also the frustration that comes with not getting the results.
Here's that Q&A:
The mark on this team so far this season has been that it's been remarkably inconsistent. How frustrating has that been because the fact is you guys have been playing some better hockey under Dave Cameron than you were under Paul MacLean?
"We have. We have. It's really weird lately. I think Dave has come in we've turned a corner and we've put better games and better 60-minute efforts together, and in quite a few of the games we just didn't get the outcome. We were there and we thought the next day when we looked at the video that we were the better team, that we outchanced them. That Carolina game is an example. We play that game 10 times we're going to win nine. [Anton] Khudobin made some saves that were just ridiculous. But that's been the mark on our team, obviously. It's been unfortunate, but at the same time I think we're identifying things that as young team we need to build on and at some point those 2-1 and 3-2 games are going to start to turn, we're going to get more comfortable in them. I think we're starting to right now. The truth is we have to start playing some playoff hockey. It's a little late for moral victories at this point."
What are some of the things you have identified?
"Well, I think we've cut down on chances against. When we were losing early we were giving up 45 and sometimes close to 50 shots, and it's too much to ask Andy [Craig Anderson] and Robin [Lehner] to turn away 44 of those every night and give us an opportunity to win 2-1 because the offense on this team it comes in bunches but it doesn't come consistently. That's a problem we've identified as well. Outside of that I think we've spent more time in the neutral zone defending than we have in the defensive zone, and I think that's something that we had to as a team work on. We weren't able to win those battles at the blue line and now we're starting to see some layering some opportunities for guys to create offense through that area a little more. We are not as stagnant. We sat around a lot. The theory is to get back and protect that house, but we were doing it to the point where not one guy was going to play the puck. We were standing five across and we were hoping the puck would hit us. So we've been more aggressive in some areas and that's been good."
Is all that based on a point of emphasis Dave brought in when he took over for Paul?
"Yes. It is. He stressed early the importance for us to be an aggressive team forechecking, an aggressive team in the neutral zone. It's not taking dumb chances, but just giving ourselves opportunities to create turnovers. We've seen a lot more transition game out of our team since then. If the offense comes we're going to be on the other side of some of the scores we're looking at."
So you're seeing all this, but you were .500 under Paul and you're .500 under Dave. Do you worry that frustration will set in because you're not getting the results?
"Yes, and that's one of those things that I think Dave has been really good with. We're one step forward two steps back, and Dave has been really good about not letting us come to the rink down on ourselves and making sure we're not beating ourselves up; identifying what went wrong but going out and correcting it and working on it the next day so that when we get into the position that we're more comfortable in those settings. The fact of the matter is we have to make our push; we can't wait for later in the year."