Sens minus production

ERIN NICKS

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

With only a dozen games left for the Senators to salvage something positive out of their regular season, now seems the perfect time to tie up some loose ends.

Here's something to chew on regarding the four-player swap in February between Ottawa and Carolina (Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves for Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman): Evidence shows Corvo wasn't solely responsible for Ottawa's defensive woes and Commodore has hardly been a solution.

In 13 games since the trade (not including last night's game at Phoenix), the seven Ottawa blueliners had 15 points and were a collective minus-26, with not one in the plus column.

Leading the charge is the newest addition. Commodore was a minus-7 since joining the team. (Other notables include Wade Redden at minus-5, as well as the tandem of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov, each at minus-4).

There's something to the gradual integration of a new player, but given Commodore's reputation and the time of year, there is little patience for learning curves. That being said, the remainder of the Sens' D have done nothing to lead their recently acquired teammate by example.

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It's always interesting to witness the reaction of Mike Fisher fans when their beloved player is criticized.

Heading into last night's game, No. 12 had not scored a goal since Jan. 29. Fisher supporters typically counter these stats with a statement like, "It's to be expected, because (Fisher) has yet to reach his potential."

That excuse might wash for a sophomore, but Fisher is in his eighth NHL season. It's safe to say his offensive output has peaked. It's a disconcerting revelation, when you consider the feisty forward will be paid $6 million (all terms US) next year as part of a five-year, $21-million contract extension signed last September.

The salary screams "second-line centre." Fisher's scoring consistency does not.

Offensive contribution from four lines helps win Stanley Cups. Ottawa's first-line centre (Jason Spezza) finished with 87 points last season. Fisher has yet to break the 50-point barrier in his professional career. Some may claim the 27-year-old has never had the type of linemates needed to assist in achieving higher totals, but what about his significant power-play time?

No one's debating Fisher's determination to break his most recent slump, but when Volchenkov has more points than the fan favourite through a 14-game stretch, alarm bells have to be going off.

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You wouldn't think teams such as Anaheim and Toronto have much in common given their recent histories, but they do share one common thread: Both clubs have possessed the ability to physically and mentally clobber the Senators into submission.

It's been some time since the Sens were accused of having a team "in their heads." The Leafs have held the title for years, but the lack of competitive equality made that stumbling block less relevant (in short, if they're not in the playoffs, you don't have to worry about them).

Seeing Ottawa's panicked and disorganized performance vs. Anaheim this week brought all those bad memories flooding back. And remember how everyone in Ottawa used to obsess over the Sens' futile pursuit to become "more like the Maple Leafs" in the playoffs? Since the Stanley Cup final and the latest game in Orange County, the Senators and their fans have apparently adopted the Ducks as their newest model of choice.

But based on what observers have seen lately, this city's franchise has a long way to go if they ever want to be mistaken for champs.


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