Game Day: Senators vs. Desert Dogs

- January 31st, 2015

Arrived at the rink 3 hours early for Senators vs. Arizona Coyotes, a game that should attracted all sorts of attention across the entire continent. Or at least in parts of Ottawa.
Noticed this morning that the Senators odds of winning the McDavid Lottery are, I believe, 6.5% (or is that 5.6%?). And their odds of making the playoffs, according to sportsclubstats.com are 8.6%. It will be interesting to see if the former passes the latter at some point.
Listen, I know it’s highly, highly, highly unlikely they’re going to qualify for the post-season tournament now, but a miracle run is still somewhat conceivable, given they play 8 of their next 10 at home and the lineup of visitors is unimpressive, to say the least. But for what it’s worth, if they lose this afternoon to the Dogs, I’m officially writing the Senators off.
It was confirmed today that Mike Smith will start in goal for Arizona – the same Mike Smith that surrendered five goals when these teams met three weeks ago at Jobing.com Arena.
I’m expecting Robin Lehner to snap out of his funk with a big game today.
Also, to Bobby Goodman, yes, I think putting Curtis Lazar in a more offensive role is a good move … you rhyme off his numbers over the last few games, and I realize they’re poor but he hasn’t played with Kyle Turris, hasn’t had many minutes, hasn’t been put in a spot where he can get untracked. Why not try him there this afternoon?
Anyway, enjoy the game today, all of you who are smart enough to pass on Winterlude and stay out of the cold.

The return of Jason

- January 29th, 2015

Jason Spezza makes his return to Canadian Tire Centre Thursday. Not sure how he’s going to be greeted but it’s not going to be anything like the lovefest held for Daniel Alfredsson.
In my opinion, there’s going to be some boos. There has to be. He asked for a trade and some people aren’t going to let that go. They should but they won’t.
Spezza was the lightning rod for criticism here. The naive like to think the media ran him out of town. Nothing of course could be further from the truth but that’s why they’re naive. What ran him out of town was constantly having the finger pointed at him for every win and loss.
He was constantly under the microscope and maybe, just maybe, Spezza listened to the TSN 1200 post-game show on too many of those drives home following losses. Really, he didn’t feel like he wanted to be here anymore, he wasn’t going to sign here as a unrestricted free agent next summer and wanted to get out of town. That’s his right.
He was a point-a-game player for the Senators but for many that was never good enough. He never had the flare for the dramatic the way Daniel Alfredsson did. Spezza was just a really good, consistent No. 1 centre for this team and don’t think for a second they don’t miss him because they do.
You can boo him if you want. I don’t think he should be. They’ll give him a tribute video. My belief is he deserves a warm welcome.
The bigger story may be Alex Chiasson being scratched but that’s a story for another day.

Hello from Columbus

- January 23rd, 2015

COLUMBUS _ Greetings from the all-star game.
This weekend is always great until they drop the puck Sunday night.
I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Well, maybe I am.
As you know from the all-star weekend in Ottawa, this is a great weekend on the schedule for the city involved. They can’t do anything to make the game competitive. The draft idea is fun and at least adds some intrigue to the process.
The Senators are well-represented here by winger Bobby Ryan.
I did think Craig Anderson would have a chance at coming here when Sergei Bobrovsky got hurt. The league was scrambling to get players and Anderson didn’t have any real plans for the weekend as far as I know but they decided to go with Brian Elliott.
The Senators went into the break with a victory over the Leafs so everybody can feel good about themselves.
They have to come back and start winning some games now.
Will check in here this weekend. Enjoy it.

Carolina: Coming in hot

- January 16th, 2015

Speaking big picture, the Hurricanes have had a sorry season. They are 28th overall with 14-24-5 record.
But their year hasn’t been bad at all.
The year we refer to is 2015, of course. Since Jan. 1, Carolina is 4-1-1. The only regulation time loss was a 3-2 final against the Nashville Predators – the best team in the league thus far.
So no, the notion that the Senators could be “taking the Hurricanes lightly” is absurd. Just as is the notion they could overlook any team in the league.
If the Senators are going to take a run at a playoff spot – and yes, I still believe they can – I think they need to win their three remaining games before the all-star break – Carolina, in New York to play the Rangers, and then back home to face the Maple Leafs. Two of the three would keep their pulse beating.
Stuff I’m working on now for the website/newspaper includes the Senators habit this years of losing after a big win, Erik Karlsson’s improved numbers under Dave Cameron, and the opinion that Craig Anderson needs to run with the ball.

Back at it

- January 11th, 2015

GLENDALE, ARIZ. _ The Senators hit the halfway mark Saturday night with a 5-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
The club has a 17-16-8 record through 41 games and has 42 points which has them eight behind the Boston Bruins for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
Clearly, the situation has to improve.
The people at sportsclubstats.com give the Senators a 13.5% chance of making the playoffs. The good news is that’s up 4% from the day before. The odds aren’t high and stacked against them but you have to cling to some hope.
The Senators had done a lot of soul-searching before playing the Coyotes. They knew the effort against the Colorado Avalanche was simply not good enough and that had to change.
Now they need to do it consistently.