While many people assume that one of the currently existing teams would’ve been the dominant ones in the first decade of the NHL, it was the Senators who were the true powerhouses. Not only were they the most dominant NHL team in the 1910s, they were also the most dominant team of the first half of the 20s.
They began the 20s by finishing just one win shy of 1st in the league to the Toronto St. Pats and with by far the lowest goals against totals in the League thanks to Clint Benedict. Cy Denneny was a force on the offence along with Nighbor, who often set him up. Jack Darragh was the true setup man on the line though, with an unprecedented 15 assists that dominated the league, with 50% more than the next best players. On defense, Georges Boucher performed well, but the Senators lacked a strong #2 defender. Despite falling behind the St. Pats in the regular season, the Senators emerged victorious over the St. Pats in the playoffs. They then beat the PCHA’s Vancouver Millionaires 3-2 in a 5-game series to win their second consecutive Cup.
The 1921-22 season saw the Senators rise to the top of the NHL again, with a 14-8-2 record, beating out Toronto, who finished 2nd. The Senators not only finished with the league’s lowest goals against again, but also the highest goals for, scoring 106 goals. Frank Nighbor had a rough year, but Punch Broadbent made up for this by exploding with 46 points, leading the NHL. Denneny was right behind him in second with 39 points for the second consecutive season. Benedict continued to dominate in the goaltending sector. The Senators were primed for a third consecutive Cup, but faltered in the playoffs, going 0-1-1 to the St. Pats.
In the 1922-23 season, Ottawa again finished first in the NHL, but by the skin of their teeth, as the Canadiens finished just one point behind them. While Denneny and Boucher continued to play well, many of the rest of the skaters faltered, and so it was largely due to the stellar play of Benedict that the Senators performed as well as they did. Benedict finished the season with four shutouts, nearly breaking the NHL record, his own, which was five. The Senators seemed to like cutting things close, as they beat the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs only by outscoring them. Both teams one a game in the two-game showdown, but the Senators had one more game, allowing them to move on to the Stanley Cup finals to face the Edmonton Eskimos of the WCHL, where they would take them down in two games, as the Finals went to a best-of-three format.
The 1923-24 season featured the rise of King Clancy and the continued dominance of Georges Boucher and Cy Denneny; however, it was also the first season in a long time where the Senators didn’t lead the league in allowing the fewest goals. That honour belonged to the Montreal Canadiens and Georges Vezina, who finally dethroned Benedict as the GAA king of the NHL beating out Benedict’s 1.99 with his own 1.97. Despite this, the Senators dominated the NHL thanks to their persistent offense and finished well ahead of the Canadiens in the standings. The Canadiens, however, had the last laugh, besting the Senators 2-0 in the 1924 playoffs.
The 1924-25 season was a tougher one for the Senators as they adjusted to two new teams (the Boston Bruins and Montreal Maroons) and an extended schedule of 30 games instead of 24. Denneny finished strong with 27 goals and 42 points and Boucher and Clancy were a powerful 1-2 punch on the back end, but the Senators lacked any strong offensive forces beyond those. As Benedict was sent to the Maroons prior to the season, the 22-year old Alec Connell had sole possession of the net in Ottawa. While Connell was good, he was no Clint Benedict. The Senators finished fourth out of six teams and failed to make the playoffs.
Out of the five seasons in the first half of the 1920s, the Senators made the playoffs four times, finishing 1st in the NHL three times and 2nd once. They won Stanley Cups in 1921 and 1923 and had the most dominant regular season of the half-decade in 1923-24 with a 16-8 record.