Montreal Canadiens: Senators Completely Collapse as Habs Future Looks Brighter

Dec 19, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Ottawa Senators goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) gives up a gaol
Dec 19, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Ottawa Senators goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) gives up a gaol / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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After the collapse of the Martin and Alfredsson era following Ottawa’s surprise appearance in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, it was former GM Bryan Murray who slowly but surely rebuilt the Sens around a core of Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson, one that took Ottawa to within one overtime goal of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017.

Then, after Karlsson voiced his displeasure with the direction the team was heading, that core also collapsed, and Dorion was subsequently brought in to clean things up once more, which he didn't... well... didn't do.

Throughout all of this, the Canadiens were mired in what they’ve pretty much always been mired in since Captain Guy Carbonneau hoisted Montreal’s 24th and to-date, last, Stanley Cup on June 9th, 1993. Mediocrity.

With them currently mired in a 6-game losing streak, the Ottawa Senators are no longer a rebuilding team like the Montreal Canadiens. If anything, Montreal is handling their future better as Ottawa's collapses.

In between the occasional 47 or 50-win season, things seemed to always give way for Montreal as the team could just never build a true contender around their star players. Aside from miraculous Playoff runs where Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price just decided they wanted to go far into the Playoffs and carried mediocre if not downright bad teams there, Montreal didn’t have much in the way of consistency when it came to the regular season standings. All the while, the Senators became the definition of consistent success and always seemed to find a new group of stars to lead the team into the future as the past iterations grew old.

Even in 2022-23, Ottawa had 5 players finish with 60+ points, including two with 80+. Tim Stutzle emerged as an offensive star after being one of the main returns from the trade that saw Karlsson leave Ottawa, and the Sens managed to land former Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux in free agency, who posted 79 points last year whilst playing all 82 games for the first time since 2018-19.

Even still though, they fell short of the postseason, suffering from a lack of defensive support and a true No. 1 option in goal. While Cam Talbot did what he could with a 17-14-2 record and a 2.93 GAA, Ottawa ended up using six different goaltenders including former ECHL starter Dylan Ferguson.

Having signed Korpisalo to a long-term deal in free agency as yet another attempt to find a starter in goal, 2023-24 was seen as do-or-die for Ottawa when it came to finally making a concrete and driven run at the postseason, after having never really gotten off the ground in any of the past six seasons in spite of a core that was, by this point, fully developed.

Yet even still, to put it politely, there hasn’t really been a whole lot of do and a lot more of die. While the offense is as potent as ever, the defensive deficiencies both on the blue-line and in goal are more prevalent than ever, even with two goalies in Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg who have shown starting potential in the past.