Sens drop first two games, no big deal

I am sure there are some Ottawa Senators fans out there who are saying "don't worry, it's only two games."

Those same Sens fans probably haven't been paying attention to anything that has happened for the Senators in 2011. This is a REBUILDING year.

Anyone who expects the team to have more than 35 wins is dreaming. I am not saying they can not achieve higher than 35 win, but I am saying it should not be expected. 

Teams can sometimes surprise their fans, and fans of the coolest game in general, but for the Sens to have a playoff year would be a miracle.

Interestingly enough, the first two games have shown the Senators to be quite a different team than expected thus far (AKA not far enough in to accurately gauge).

Scoring has not been an issue. In fact, the team has posted 8 goals in two games. Sure, Alfredsson has two and Michalek has two, but some youngsters have pitched in as well.

The Senators problem has been turnovers, and poor defensive end play in general. In the Detroit game, defenseive end turnovers were killer. Detroit did not even have to work for some of the goals they scored, and the Wings don't need help scoring.

In Toronto, turnovers killed any flow in the game, and bad penalties did as well. Nikita Filatov has been particulartly bad for taking needless penalties, and he is also trying to be too fancy with the puck. For a guy auditioning to stay in the NHL, he needs to simplify his game and stick with things that will give him a chance to succeed.

Ottawa's best defensive d-man has been the towering Jared Cowen. A rookie with the squad, he has shown considerable poise, and is being relied on to shut down the opposition's big forwards. There will be growing pains along the way, but this guy is going to be a premier defensive shutdown defenseman.

Another bright spot for the young Senators has been Stephane Da Costa. The small, creative centre has played some great hockey for the Sens. He was rewarded with a goal tonight against the Leafs, but he has constantly been a threat with his great vision and work ethic. The goal he potted was a master-class in passing between him and Erik Karlsson.

The Sens have lost but games by allowing a flurry of goals against, and then trying to rally back for the win. It is impressive to see a young team show so much battle in rallying back, but it makes you wonder what they could accomplish if they didn't fall behind so far to begin with.

It is worth noting the poor defensive play of Sergei Gonchar. While full of offensive talents, his poor defensive positioning, untimely pinching, and brutal work ethic are beginning to great tiresome already. He was directly responsible for a number of goals in the first two games, and he needs to start scoring if he is to have any value for the Senators this season.

Overall, it is not worth being upset over two losses. This will be a tough year, and we need to look forward to drafting Neil Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk, or whoever is available in the top five this draft. The team is rebuilding, there are positive things to take from the losses, and these young players need playing time to develop, bumps and all.