Ottawa Senators coach Dave Cameron was again not happy after one of his team’s losses Tuesday night. After beating the Rangers 3-0 Sunday, Ottawa followed up with a 3-2 home loss against the Buffalo Sabres, a team just one point out of the conference basement. It was Ottawa’s third loss in its past four games and Cameron said he was frustrated by his team’s “second-tier” effort and their overall inconsistency.
“For me it’s almost like it’s too hard for some guys to play the right way every night,” he said. “And we’re 50-some games into this year… and we said at the start of the year we’ll know what we are in terms of players and right now, when you drop off like that and that’s not the first time we’ve done it, I’m starting to think it might be too hard for guys to be able to play in the National Hockey League at a high level.”
The Senators came into the season unsure of just what kind of a team they were. In 2014-15, Ottawa was a playoff long shot most of the way, but a wild 22-4-4 finish lifted them into the post-season, thanks largely to Andrew Hammond and his .941 save percentage in 24 games.
Was that a lucky run, or a sign of an emerging team? So far in 2015-16, the Senators have struggled to maintain momentum and have just one winning streak of more than two games. Despite Mike Hoffman‘s production, a rebound season for Bobby Ryan, and the usual greatness from Erik Karlsson, the Senators are now three points out of a playoff spot and 12th in the Eastern Conference.
"Guys can come up and do it short term. That's what last year was, it was short term," Cameron said.
Heading into the all-star break, Cameron certainly left his players with something to think about. His demeanor wasn't as charged as it has been in the recent past, but his words sure were.
And he wasn't just calling out depth players, or young guys. He had his stars in the cross hairs too.
"The offensive blueline was an obstacle," he said of Tuesday's game against the Sabres. "The skill guys got there, they slowed down to make a play. Well that just plays right into Buffalo’s hands. They just stood up, they had big D with a big reach and we didn’t get anything going in the offensive zone and we did it time after time. That’s the frustrating part is that you expect it every once in a while, but we’re slow learners."
The Senators head into the break 23-21-6 for 52 points and come out of it with an important game in Pittsburgh against the suddenly hot Penguins.
What will Cameron do with his time off?
"Try and figure out how to get these guys out of their stubborn mode."