• The Senators are having plenty of issues on the ice, and owner Eugene Melnyk's recent comments have only further complicated things.
By Sam Page
December 18, 2017

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Ottawa Senators, but none rougher than the most recent. The team, struggling though the first few months of 2017-18 to the tune of its worst start in 20 years after coming up just short of the Stanley Cup Final last season, has had to deal with owner Eugene Melnyk opening the door to the possibility of moving the franchise.

Before his team took on the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s outdoor NHL 100 Classic game on Saturday, Melnyk brought up the idea of maybe moving the franchise.

"If it doesn't look good here, it could look very, very nice somewhere else, but I'm not suggesting that right now," the team’s sole owner, governor and chairman said. The Senators were roundly criticized for eliminating 1,500 seats from the Canadian Tire Center to begin the season after struggling with attendance during 2017’s playoff run, and haven’t found a solution to the problem.

Earlier in the month, Ottawa’s biggest star, two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson, stated his want for a market value deal when his contract is after the 2018-19 season, had decided to keep his focus on the ice.

"That’s none of our business, that’s what he worries about," Karlsson said on Monday. "We worry about playing hockey and that’s all we can control and that’s what we get paid to do so we show up every day and do the best that we can at what we do."

Here's how we see teams stacking up in the NHL, from 31-1 (stats and records through Monday's games):

31. Arizona Coyotes
Last week: 30 (-1)
Record: 7-23-5

They’re the team real squads beat when they need to get back in gear. See: Saturday against Pittsburgh, or last Sunday against Chicago.

30. Buffalo Sabres
Last week: 31 (+1)
Record: 8-18-7

They’re at least taking teams to overtime. 

29. Ottawa Senators
Last week: 29 (-)
Record: 11-13-7

Fans have their owner’s meltdown to take their mind off Matt Duchene’s production.

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28. Detroit Red Wings
Last week: 25 (-3)
Record: 12-13-7

Well, they lost 10–1 to the team ranked 26th here. The Wings are yet another team with neither goalie asserting himself. 

27. Florida Panthers
Last week: 27 (-)
Record: 12-16-5

By far the worst team with two top-25 scorers, Florida continues to have troubles keeping the puck out of their own net. 

26. Montreal Canadiens
Last week: 19 (-7)
Record: 14-15-4

Carey Price saving 35 of 37 shots against the Sens and losing just underscores the situation: The goalie is back, but the problems run deeper.  

25. Vancouver Canucks 
Last week: 17 (-8)
Record: 15-15-4

See: Flames entry

24. Edmonton Oilers
Last week: 28 (+4)
Record: 15-17-2

Monster games from Connor McDavid followed by momentum-crushing losses have become the pattern. Sure, they need consistency… if that’s the name of a winger who can score.

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23. Colorado Avalanche
Last week: 24 (+1)
Record: 16-15-2

The young offensive stars are rebounding nicely from last year’s nightmare, but the goaltending is distressing.

22. Anaheim Ducks
Last week: 20 (-2)
Record: 14-12-8

…And now Corey Perry is hurt too. We’ll see how long they can tread water (get it?).

21. Calgary Flames
Last week: 16 (-5)
Record: 17-14-3

Good news: The Flames managed to beat a division rival twice in the last two weeks. Bad news: It was the hapless Canucks both times.

20. Carolina Hurricanes
Last week: 26 (+6)
Record: 14-11-7

Justin Williams is looking like the bargain of the offseason, but the rest of the scoring depth seems thin.

19. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last week: 12 (-9)
Record: 17-15-3

Move over Sid, this is Phil Kessel’s team now. (I’m kidding. I think?)

18. New York Islanders
Last week: 10 (-8)
Record: 18-12-3

It hasn’t been a terrible recent stretch for the Isles, but they’ve let other teams pass them and now have the Penguins in their review mirror.

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17. New York Rangers
Last week: 15 (-2)
Record: 18-12-3

New York has very quietly had one of the league’s best offenses, and they’re doing it as a team. Young Pavel Buchnevich continues to be a pleasant surprise. 

16. Dallas Stars
Last week: 14 (-2)
Record: 18-14-2

Their scores look like those of a baseball team, but what did you expect? Watch out if they get any goaltending, but don’t hold your breath.

15. Philadelphia Flyers
Last week: 22 (+7)
Record: 14-12-7

A six-game winning streak that ended Monday night salvaged their season-for now. Brian Elliott could be on the verge of a great comeback year.

14. Boston Bruins
Last week: 18 (+4)
Record: 16-10-5

Tuukka Rask has come on strong, while David Pastrnak has an 12-game point streak going. 

13. Minnesota Wild
Last week: 21 (+8)
Record: 17-13-3

Four straight wins put the Wild back in the mix, but their offense has sputtered since. It’s not a good sign when Matt Dumba scores all of your goals for two straight games. 

12. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last week: 6 (-7)
Record: 20-13-1

I know they’re missing Auston Matthews, but they really need to figure out ways to score without him around. 

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11. San Jose Sharks
Last week: 13 (+2)
Record: 17-11-4

Who would have guessed: Brent Burns’s zero-goal pace didn’t last the season. Now that he’s got the first six, don’t be surprised in the next few come in a hurry.

10. New Jersey Devils
Last week: 8 (-2)
Record: 19-9-5

File these wins under “the Devils may be for real:” 5-1 against the Kings and 5-2 against the Stars. Hey, Edmonton, Taylor Hall looks great!

9. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last week: 7 (-2)
Record: 20-13-1

They’ve been beating up on teams below them in these rankings all month: New Jersey, Arizona, Edmonton, The Islanders. But not playing down to your opponents is a good sign.  

8. Chicago Blackhawks
Last week: 23 (+15)
Record: 17-11-5

Happy Birthday to Alex DeBrincat, who turned 20 Monday. The American rookie winger refuses to let the Blackhawks’ dynasty fade. Patrick Kane’s seven points over a five-game win streak aren’t hurting things, either.

7. Los Angeles Kings
Last week: 2 (-5)
Record: 21-10-4

L.A. had a bad trip to New York City, losing against all three local teams. Still, Anze Kopitar scored again, brining his season total to 17—already five more goals than he had in 76 games last year.

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6. Winnipeg Jets
Last week: 6 (-)
Record: 19-10-5

After four games in which he took just five total shots, Patrik Laine scored on one of seven SOG against St. Louis. In his 15 games this season with at least three shots, he has 12 goals. 

5. St. Louis Blues
Last week: 3 (-2)
Record: 22-11-2

There’s no shame in losing to the Lightning, but that game was one of five in which they’ve scored one or zero goals since the calendar turned to December. Luckily, they’ve still got one of the best defensive teams in the league.

4. Washington Capitals
Last week: 11 (+7)
Record: 21-12-1

After being scratched and publicly reprimanded by coach Barry Trotz in November, speedy youngster Jakub Vrana has responded with three points in his last three games. And oh yeah, some guy named Ovechkin has 12 points this month.

3. Vegas Golden Knights
Last week: 9 (+6)
Record: 21-9-2

Malcolm Subban prevailed in the first ever Subban Classic, beating brother P.K. and the Predators by not allowing a goal in a six-round shootout. Then starter Marc-Andre Fleury returned just in time to get the best of his former team in the Penguins. Vegas suddenly has a very strong goaltending duo.

2. Nashville Predators
Last week: 4 (+2)
Record: 21-7-4

Ryan Johansen returns to a Predators team that went 3-0-1 in his absence. Like Tampa Bay, they’ve yet to lose in regulation this month and just completed an impressive sweep of their Western Canada road trip with back-to-back shutouts from Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne. 

1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last week: 1 (-)
Record: 24-6-2

The league leaders have crushed a soft December schedule, going 7–0 so far. Tampa Bay fans may be getting a double-digit winning streak for Christmas.

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)