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Senators goaltending, penalty-killing misfortunes led to missing playoffs

Inconsistency led to regression one season after making Eastern Conference Final

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Ottawa Senators were eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a 6-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

The Senators were one goal from reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season but will miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

Here is a look at what happened in 2017-18 for the Senators and why things could be better in 2018-19:

 

The skinny

Potential UFAs: Magnus Paajarvi, LW; Chris Wideman, D

Potential RFAs: Mark Stone, RW; Cody Ceci, D; Fredrik Claesson, D

Potential 2018 Draft picks: 6

 

What went wrong

Goaltending dip: Craig Anderson couldn't follow his magical 2016-17 season. His goals-against average is more than one goal per game higher this season (3.32) than last season (2.28), and his save percentage is .899, down from .926, despite seeing fewer shots on average this season (30.5) than last season (31.2).

Video: EDM@OTT: McDavid glides to the net to pot his second

Penalty kill got worse: The 75.5 percent success rate killing penalties is 28th in NHL, which is lower than their 79.7 percent last season. They are on pace to allow 57 power-play goals, more than the 50 they allowed last season, despite being shorthanded fewer times per game (2.8) than in 2016-17 (3.0).

No boost from Duchene: They were looking to invigorate their offense when they acquired forward Matt Duchene as part of a three-team trade with the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators on Nov. 5. But Duchene went seven games without a point after the trade, and he had six points (three goals, three assists) in his first 24 games with the Senators, who went 6-14-4 and averaged 2.0 goals per game.

 

Reasons for optimism

Bright future: Ottawa will have two picks in the first round, its own and the Pittsburgh Penguins', which they acquired in the Derick Brassard trade Feb. 23. The Senators also have a strong group of prospects on the rise, led by defenseman Thomas Chabot, 21, and center Colin White, 21. Forwards Alex Formenton, 18, and Logan Brown, 20, made their NHL debut this season. Forward Drake Batherson, 19, led Canada with seven goals in seven games at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. Goaltender Filip Gustavsson, 19, acquired in the Brassard trade, had a 2.07 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 22 games with Lulea in the Swedish Hockey League and was named the best goaltender at the WJC.

Video: NYR@OTT: Chabot wraparound trickles over goal line

Stone on the rise: Despite missing 15 games, including the past six because of a leg injury, forward Mark Stone has 62 points (20 goals, 42 assists) in 58 games. And he's done it playing more than 100 minutes at 5-on-5 with seven forwards, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. At 25, Stone is entering his prime as a top-line scoring threat. With better health and more consistent linemates, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him reach 80 points next season.

New contract for Karlsson: General manager Pierre Dorion assured Senators season ticket holders Friday that everything possible will be done to keep defenseman Erik Karlsson in Ottawa. "Erik is a fantastic player," Dorion said, according to the Ottawa Citizen. "The relationship between he, (owner) Eugene (Melnyk) and myself is strong, and I want all of you to know that. … "When we can offer Erik a contract on July 1, we will do so." Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, can become an unrestricted free agent after next season but is eligible to sign an extension July 1.

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