Smith safe as Senators coach despite five-game skid, GM Dorion says

Smith safe as Senators coach despite five-game skid, GM Dorion says

DJ Smith will remain coach of the Ottawa Senators, general manager Pierre Dorion said Monday.

The Senators (4-7-0) have lost five straight and are in last place in the Atlantic Division entering their game against the Vancouver Canucks at Canadian Tire Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, SNP, ESPN+, SN NOW ). ).

“I’m very happy with him,” Dorion said. “I’m happy with the job that DJ has done, his staff … I think DJ has done a good job, he’s shown that he can win. I’m not giving votes of confidence or anything. DJ is our coach, he’s going to be our coach. I have faith in how this team plays with DJ”

Smith, who is in his fourth season as coach, is 85-111-24 with the Senators. He signed a two-year contract on July 28, 2021, which will run through the 2023–24 season with a team option for 2024–25.

Ottawa has not qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2017, when they lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, expectations have been raised this season following the additions of strikers Alex DeBrincat i Claude Girouxand porter Cam Talbot during the summer.

While the Senators rank 10th in the NHL in goals per game (3.45), they also allow the same amount, which is 23rd in the League. They are also 26th on the power play at 18.4 percent, and 18th on the penalty kill at 77.3 percent.

“The only stat I look at a lot is 5-on-5 goals against, the differential, and now we’re sixth in the League. Last year we were 30th,” Dorion said. “There’s a lot of positives there. If we’re six at 5-on-5, that would tell you something’s not right. Our power play is 26th. There’s a lot of room for improvement. Our penalty kill, nine of every 11 games in which we have scored a goal.

“I think there are areas we can improve on, but overall, am I happy? No. I think I’m happy with how we’re playing for the most part. I think these next 10 games are going to be very important for our season.”

The senators also announced center Josh Norris won’t need surgery to repair a shoulder injury he suffered on Oct. 22. Instead, he will work on rehabbing and strengthening the shoulder.

The Senators had previously announced on Oct. 26 that the 23-year-old could be out for the season.

Norris missed 15 games last season with a shoulder injury. Dorion said it’s the same shoulder but a different type of injury.

Norris, who had two points (one goal, one assist) in five games before the injury, signed an eight-year, $63.6 million contract (average annual value of $7.95 million) with Ottawa on July 15 after he set his NHL career high in goals. (35), assists (20) and points (55) in 66 games last season.

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