Sens' plus-minus just sick

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:57 PM ET

Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson is sick with something that, according to coach Cory Clouston, has been “making its way through the team.”

He means cold and flu symptoms, not the plummeting plus-minus rating that has reached nauseating proportions.

Hence, Karlsson’s participation in Monday’s game against the visiting Kings is in doubt. If he can’t go, David Hale will make his return to the lineup.

“You just have to practise with intensity and be ready,” Hale, who has watched the last four games from the pressbox, said Sunday. “I’m ready.”

Hale has a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating to show for the 10 games he’s played in this season. Matt Carkner is the only other Ottawa blueliner with a positive number, as he leads the team at plus-4.

Combined, the Senators are minus-58, with Top 2 defencemen Sergei Gonchar (minus-13) and Chris Phillips (minus-10) at the bottom of the company barrel. 

Only two NHLers had a worse plus-minus rating than Gonchar’s heading into Sunday’s games, and they were Islander teammates John Tavares and James Wisniewski at minus-14.

“We do need him to be better, but we need everybody to be better,” Clouston said of Gonchar. “You can’t just single out one guy in a group, when you’re struggling like we are right now, and point a finger at him. We as a whole have to be better.”

That includes getting better at staying out of the box.

During their current three-game losing slide, the Senators have been short-handed 18 times. On the flip-side, they’ve only had eight power plays.

“What happens is our play leads to penalties,” said Clouston. “We either draw them or we take them. If we stay on page, generally we draw the penalties. If we get off page and start turning pucks over, we end up taking them. When you defend is generally when you end up taking penalties. Turnovers create a situation where you have to defend.”

If anybody was keeping track of odd-man rushes/breakaways allowed while on the power play, the Senators would have to be close to or in the league lead.

“The problem is our decision-making,” said Clouston. “We refuse at times to go low with the puck. We put our linemate in jeopardy, instead of reading where the pressure is and taking the puck away from the pressure. We tend to want to skate the puck to the guy, or put the puck back into the pressure. We just have to have better reads, and at times, better execution.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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