If you’re starting to get flashbacks to the expansion years following the 7-1 drubbing at the hands of the Oilers the other night, you’re not alone. Wednesday’s listless performance was easily the worst effort the Senators have mustered so far in this truncated season. Whether this turns out to be an anomaly that can be flushed away with the usual hockey-isms of “we just didn’t have it tonight, we need to be better”, and “we didn’t do the little things well, didn’t get pucks in deep and they took advantage of it” or if it is a sign of things to come in the 2nd half of the year will largely dictate whether we’re hearing the names Dorion or DJ beyond this year. But that’s another topic for another day.
The initial knee jerk reaction following the final whistle was that this was the worst this iteration of the Senators have ever looked on the ice. And while that may be true for the Tkachuk & Chabot era team, it is far from the worst performance an Ottawa team has ever put on. Many Gen-Z fans were years away from being born, let alone developing a vested rooting interest in NHL teams when the expansion era Senators debuted in the NHL. So for those who want to know where this latest setback stacks up all time in Sens lore, or those who lived through the years and are just glutton for punishment, let’s countdown the top 5 lopsided losses in Ottawa hockey history.
5) 2021 Ottawa vs. Edmonton, 7-1 loss
Call it recency bias, or chalk it up to the fact it took the team 29 minutes to record their 5th shot on goal (which by that time it was already 6-0 for the Oilers), but this week’s loss was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It’s not like the Sens have never given up a touchdown before, but it was the manner in which the team did it that sticks out.
This wasn’t a case of fluky bounces going in, and Ottawa being snake bitten on the other end of the ice. The Oilers just outclassed the Sens in every facet of the game the other night. It was the equivalent of the Varsity team taking on the 7th & 8th graders. There really wasn’t a sense of urgency on the Sens behalf at any point in the game, and it could even be argued that players looked actively disinterested in the game for long stretches as well. Missed defensive assignments, sloppy passes, and being caught flat footed as the Oilers blew past them with their speed were par for the course all night long.
The play that epitomizes the lackadaisical effort from Ottawa was when Draisaitl picked up the puck in his own end, skated the length of the ice in a straight line going untouched before tucking one of his three goals (en route to a 5pt night) behind a visibly frustrated Matt Murray. At no point did Ottawa make anything difficult for the Oilers who could’ve easily made it a 10+ goal night had they kept their foot on the gas. Fans can stomach losses where it looks like the boys are giving it their all but aren’t getting the bounces, but when it looks like certain individuals mailed it in midway through the game, that’s a different story.
Hopefully this lights a bit of a fire in the locker room and the team can use it as motivation. One way or another, this will likely be a turning point for the team. Whether they bounce back from this and finish the season strong, or this begins a downwards spiral remains to be seen.
4) 2006 Ottawa vs. Toronto 6-0
Before we launch into the rationale for this, I just want to point out that the overall regular season series between these two franchises is currently 66-49-3-10 in favour of Ottawa. Which I find HILARIOUS given the fact that the Senators essentially spotted the Leafs 5 years worth of free wins as they tried to get their feet under them in the early 90’s. Ottawa also has the edge in largest victory (an 8-0 win in 2005) and winning streak (7 in a row) which included a 3 game stretch where the Sens beat the buds 8-0, 7-2, and 7-0 in 3 consecutive games.
*Cue the traditional Leafs fan “yeah but what about the playoffs? response* Well what about them? You guys haven’t won a playoff series since 2004. Things like YouTube, the Nintendo Wii, and the iPhone weren’t even invented yet. Not to mention Outkast had just unleashed “Hey Ya!” which would go on to pollute airwaves for the next two decades further proving that nothing good happened in 2004. Ok we’re getting off topic here, back to the countdown.
This is far from the most lopsided score that the Senators have had in their history (those that are faint of heart should avoid numbers 3 through 1 on this list), but anytime you lose to an arch rival it stings just a little bit more than the average beatdown. This is the worst the Sens have ever fared against the Leafs in series history, and hurts a little more because as any Sens fan worth their salt would know, this is arguably the best team in Senators history as well, going on to lose in the Stanley Cup final to Anaheim. So it’s not like the Leafs beat up on an inferior opponent here. Just a total dud on this night, but one that didn’t affect them long term.
3) 1993 Ottawa vs. Washington 11-2
The opening line of the Washington Post sports page says it all. “The hapless Ottawa Senators once again proved to be the perfect antidote for the Washington Capitals' scoring woes.” If you think living through the current rebuild is tough, this version of the Senators has nothing on the early 90’s teams.
The 1993-94 season saw the Sens improve by 13pts in the standings. Unfortunately, this still put them dead last in the NHL for a 2nd consecutive year with a 14-61-9 record. Those expansion era Senators teams took many a lopsided beating during the franchise’s infancy. However this one stands out because they set a club record for most goals against in a single period as the Capitals poured in 7 goals in the 2nd frame alone.
And it’s not like the Senators were playing the 1995-96 Red Wings here. That season the Capitals were an average team at best finishing 3rd in the Atlantic with 88pts on the year. Their top 3 point producers were household names like Mike Ridley, Dmitri Khristich, and Sylvain Cote. Heading into the game the Caps were actually the 7th lowest scoring team in the league. But when you go 4 for 8 on the powerplay, good things tend to happen.
Needless to say, it was a long night for Sens goalies Darrin Madeley, and Craig Billington who were tested all night long. Fun fact, on this night a then rookie Alexandre Daigle wound up getting ejected because of a vicious slash on a Capitals defenseman towards the end of the game which put the cherry on top of an already frustrating night for Sens players. I assume it’s safe to part with the mountain of autographed Daigle paraphernalia from my youth at this point, no signs of a comeback right? Moving on…
2) 1992 Ottawa vs. Buffalo 12-3
October 30th 1992 is a day that lives in infamy for all the wrong reasons in Senators history. Unlike the Vegas Golden Knights who were essentially awarded a shopping spree in terms of players to choose from, the expansion Sens were given table scraps and expected to field a competitive roster. The results, as one would expect, weren’t great.
The team finished dead last in the league in points (24), goals scored (202) and 2nd to last (thank you San Jose!) in goals against with 395 (for those doing the math that would be a difference of -193 goals, yikes). So it should come as no surprise that the most goals against would have occurred this year.
In a season highlighted by the 5-3 opening night win over the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens, the Buffalo loss was just one of many bumps in the road along the way. Had this been any other year than 1992 this might have been ranked higher, but when you look at the roster, 24 points might be considered batting above their average. Now let’s just hope that history doesn’t repeat itself here with Ottawa’s 5-3 opening night win over Toronto meaning they become the eventual Stanley Cup champions in 2021.
1) 1994 Ottawa vs. Calgary 10-0
Which brings us to the granddaddy of em’ all, the worst loss in Senators franchise history. Losing sucks no matter how you slice it, but getting shutout in a loss hurts just a bit more. Getting shutout in a loss AND giving up a ten spot hurts even more than that.
Well, that’s exactly what happened on this fateful night. Unfortunately our previously mentioned friends Darrin Madeley and Craig Billington were victimized once more to the tune of 10 consecutive goals from the Flames. The list of goaltenders in Ottawa over the years is quite the read for any of those adventurous enough to go through it. Just an astonishing collection of names really.
What separates this from the others on this list however is the manner in which the Flames scorched the Sens that night. Unlike the recent loss to Edmonton which was primarily a McDavid/Draisaitl wrecking crew, the entire ‘94 Flames roster got in on the fun. Of the 18 skaters who touched the ice that night 14 of them recorded at least a point, with 9 of them collecting at least 2, and no one earning more than 3. Which means from top to bottom, 1st line to 4th, forward to defenseman everyone was beating up on Ottawa.
Adding insult to injury was the fact that the Sens were blanked by journeyman goaltender Andrei Trefilov, who over the course of his limited 54 game NHL career posted a 3.45 GAA and .897 SV%. To be fair however, they didn’t exactly pepper him with shots, only mustering 21 over the course of the game.
So there you have it, some of the worst losses in Senators franchise history. Hopefully after reading through this list Sens fans can put in perspective that things aren’t truly as grim as they would appear following the loss the other night. That being said though, when the season is all said and done, we’ll likely be looking back at this point as a pivotal moment for the team and which direction they head in. Regardless of how it pans out, I think everyone in Ottawa will agree that not seeing McDavid and Draisaitl again until April after Friday’s matchup is probably a good thing.