With nearly half of the 2017-18 season in the books, the Ottawa Senators‘ nightmarish campaign has yet to take a turn for the better. The Canadian club proved as much on Saturday evening, coming out on the losing end of a 5-0 shellacking to the Boston Bruins, marking their 17th loss in the past 21 contests and their fifth shutout loss this month.
Needless to say, leading scorer Mark Stone isn’t pleased, and the winger spared no punches in assessing his team’s recent slide.
“We’re coming to the rink every day and working hard. I don’t think it’s work ethic, I think it’s a little bit of stupidity, more than anything,” Stone said after the latest loss on Saturday. “Stupidity and frustration. We’ve put ourselves in terrible spots. If you look at the goals they’re scoring tonight, we’re putting ourselves in terrible situations.
“It’s frustrating, obviously. I don’t think any player plays the game of hockey to lose. So I don’t think anybody in this locker room is thrilled at the way things are going. If they are, they shouldn’t be here.”
While the 25-year-old is enjoying a career year with 15 goals and 34 points to his name already, he said the play of the rest of the club’s core has left more to be desired.
“It starts at the top. Our best players haven’t been our best players, and it’s a trickle-down effect,” Stone said. “Guys see top players cheating, then they do too. …You can’t blame the goalie — if it’s one game maybe, but it’s 15 to 20 games. It’s not the goalies — it’s the coverage, it’s the discipline.”
Captain Erik Karlsson ranks second in team scoring with 25 points through 32 games thus far, a slight step back from his 2016-17 pace. The same goes for Mike Hoffman, the club’s highest-scoring forward last season, who’s points-per-game pace has dipped from 0.82 in 2016-17 to 0.67 this year.
After their Cinderella run to the Eastern Conference Final last post-season, wherein the Senators found themselves just one win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, Ottawa has been stumbling from Game 1 this time around.
Currently sitting at 29th in the league, the Senators rank among the league’s worst five clubs in terms of both goals scored and goals allowed, rank near the bottom in both the power play and penalty kill rankings, and have had to endure a number of ominous comments from their stars over the past few weeks.
From Karlsson making clear he won’t accept a hometown discount in Ottawa, to Derick Brassard discussing potential landing spots should a trade transpire, it’s been a trying campaign for the Senators faithful.
There’s no question the club has reached the point wherein a quick turnaround is in dire need. But according to Stone, it may already be too late.
“It needed to stop about a month and a half ago,” he said. “We’re going to need a fantastic run and we’re going to need help. We’ve put ourselves in a deep, deep hole and the guys in the locker room are the only guys that are going to be able to get us out of it.”