Game No. 55: Yikes

Could it be? Could it REALLY be?

Calgary made a decent run at it, but in the end, it was never to be. Currently, Edmonton holds the record, but for how much longer? Is it true, then, that the Ottawa Senators are primed to make a grab for it down the homestretch?

I said it at the beginning of the season and was greatly derided for it, but now the words seem almost prophetic: The Ottawa Senators are the worst NHL team in Canada.

I say this for a couple reasons, obviously. Standings-wise, this is not currently the case. Their 42 points from 54 games tower over substandard rivals like the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers, who have 41 and 40, respectively, in 53 games each. And while I don’t have any hope for the Isles — backed by the No. 124 goaltender in their system — I think there’s a hell of a possibility that the Oilers continue to get slightly better as the season progresses, making it very probable indeed that they end the year with a better record than the Sens.

Edmonton, at least, is on the upswing. No one expected them to finish anything resembling well. Very little in the way of goaltending, few difference makers and a crop of ultra-talented but very young kids of whom too much is probably already expected. But they’re undeniably improving. Those six- and seven-game losing streaks have been thinned to a mere four, and Taylor Hall especially has looked particularly lethal since mid-January or so.

On the other hand, there’s Ottawa has been just terrible all year, right? They’ve failed to win 16 of their last 17 games, and that one win was at home. Against the Islanders. With a 6-4 final in what I can only assume was the ugliest hockey game ever. Their goal differential is a league-worst minus-59. They’ve scored fewer goals than everyone but New Jersey. They’ve allowed more than everyone but Edmonton and Atlanta (Atlanta!?).

Their leading scorer is a 38-year-old past-it winger with 31 points. They have just one player on the roster who’s a plus for the season. And it’s David Hale.

The best part is they’re about to start an all-time great fire sale, since it’s been heavily implied by ownership that neither coach nor GM will be back next season. So they’re going to sell everyone even half-decent on that team ahead of the trade deadline. They’re going to play the last two months or so of the season skating a legitimate AHL roster.

But for right now, their veterans can’t score and can’t stay healthy. Their callups look like a Who’s Who of notable AHL preseason cut lists. Their goalies look like, well, Ottawa Senators goalies. They’re poorly coached, they’re poorly managed.

And Calgary can extend their losing streak to 11 games tonight.