May be time to rebuild the Sens

SCOTT MORRISON

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

So what is next for the Ottawa Senators?

The obvious has now been confirmed, and goaltender Ray Emery will not be back next season.

But that is the easy answer. And applying all blame to Emery for all that went wrong with the Senators is wrong.

It may be that this team needs more than just tinkering, but an overhaul. It has had an extended kick at the can and, for a variety of reasons, has failed to deliver and may now need to be rebuilt.

Goaltending. Grit. Big-game performances.

At various times over the years, each of those elements were missing. And this year as a team they were a loose thread, unravelling after a great start, drifting from crisis to crisis, but never finding a solution.

Now that he has answered the obvious question about Emery, GM Bryan Murray has to decide whether his best players, who are locked up long term, are the right players to win.

ALEX THE NOT SO GREAT?

Don't be misled by the statistics.

Alexander Ovechkin may not be producing big-time goals and points in his playoff debut, but he's not exactly wilting under the pressure. Far from it.

Yes, for a stretch the Philadelphia Flyers, through shrewd coaching and great defensive play, managed to shutdown the whiz kid, but it isn't because of lack of effort, desire or an inability to deal with the situation on his part.

"They're doing a good job on him," Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters. "Every time he touches the puck, they're hitting him ... He's not just talented, he's also very, very intelligent. He's got to find a way. The good ones do and I'm certain he will."

In the regular season, Ovechkin led the league in goals (65), points (112) and shots (446). Through the first-round series against the Flyers, he has only a goal, four assists and 13 shots.

The numbers are down, but he has factored in Capitals goals and has simply missed chances. In Game 4 Thursday, in which he looked more like his old self, he logged 28 minutes and managed just one shot on goal in a game that lasted 86:40. He also missed a few chances.

He was essentially matched against Jeff Carter, who is an offer sheet waiting to happen this summer if the Flyers don't get him signed, and defenceman Kimmo Timonen, who has been terrific.

Timonen is plus four in the series and hasn't been on the ice for an even-strength goal against.

"They are playing well and not giving me any space to shoot the puck," said Ovechkin.

Put simply, his lack of production has more to do with the Flyers than his effort.

IN PATTY THEY TRUST

He was the poster boy for underachieving in playoffs past, but, make no mistake, San Jose Sharks captain Patrick Marleau is answering the bell against the Calgary Flames.

Marleau has been great against the Flames. He has two goals and six points.

"Patty was doing everything ... leading by example," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.


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