Sens have been own worst enemy

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:22 PM ET

The question now is just how good are the Ottawa Senators?

The easy answers: Not as good as they looked in the first two months of the season and not as average as they have for the last two weeks or so.

The Senators had their hands full with the Canucks, the Flames, Avalanche and the Stars in the last 10 days (1-1-2).

Have teams figured out how to play the Senators?

"We look at all the tapes and try to fit (what other teams do successfully) into our game plan," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said yesterday morning. "We're not copying anybody ... we've got a good game plan. We need to execute it."

The fact is there isn't one way to play the Senators. The Canucks and Flames had success forechecking the Senators hard. The Stars played more a passive style.

The key factor in both situations: The Senators missed the likes of defenceman Wade Redden, whose puck-handling skills help navigate through both forechecking and trapping strategies.

He can move the puck quickly and accurately for the former and is capable of making that big cross-ice pass for the latter.

The fact is the Senators have also been their own worst enemy lately with way too many restraining penalties (they had given opponents 35 power plays in the four games before last night's meeting with the Leafs).

Of those 35 penalties, 24 were restraining fouls: Hooking (12), holding (nine) and tripping (three).

Now, all those penalties have been up this year, but the Senators got more of them in all those games.

That means one of two things: Either they aren't paying attention or not paying the price to get in good body position.

There's no question the Senators are a talented team; maybe the most talented team in the league. What they are finding out now is that isn't enough.

Work, patience and smarts will almost always trump just talent.

"If your opponent is more talented and just as sharp mentally," said Quinn, "they are probably going to win."

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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