Some notables to keep an eye on in Detroit

- November 24th, 2014

Good morning from the Motor City

- The Senators won both their games in Detroit last season _ including a 6-1 victory the first time they ever faced Daniel Alfredsson in another uniform. Many felt that was Jason Spezza’s coming out party as captain. Of course, it didn’t last but it sure looked like it at the time.

- This starts a five-game road trip against tough opponents (with the exception of Florida). Craig Anderson said today the Senators approach the season in five game segments. They want to get 6-of-10 points on this trip with stops in St. Louis, Florida, Tampa and Long Island before getting home next Tuesday.

- I am reporting that Alfredsson has reached out to the Senators about his retirement ceremony. It won’t be while the team is on this road trip. Alfredsson had dinner Erik Karlsson Sunday.

- Marc Methot is on the trip. Nobody is sure if he is going to play. I will check on this. His teammates told me last week the way he’s ramping up in practice they expect him to play soon. It seems sending him to the minors has been dropped. They said they wouldn’t play him against Sidney Crosby to start. Well Florida is about the easiest opponent on this trip. So we’ll see.

What’s next for Alfie?

- November 22nd, 2014

The end is near for Daniel Alfredsson.
All that’s left to decide for his retirement is where, when and how to do it.
You’d have to think the Senators will be getting a phone call if they haven’t gotten one already.
Ideally, Alfredsson would like to announce his retirement in the place where he spent 99.9% of his career and he’d like to do with the blessing of the organization.
While he spent last season with the Detroit Red Wings, the 41-year-old Alfredsson would like to come back to the place where he spent a majority of his career to hold a farewell press conference.
That makes sense but now they have to work on the mechanics.
Remember, this wasn’t a divorce that went. There’s also the consideration that Detroit signed him for the final year of his NHL contract and the Wings have to enter the equation.
But Alfredsson is an unrestricted free agent. It’s his decision where he wants to tell the world he’s decided not to play hockey anymore.
Ottawa makes sense. All that would really have to be worked out is the logistics but this is a difficult decision on a lot of fronts.

Singin’ the Blues

- November 22nd, 2014

Perusing the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning, I see the Blues are not thrilled with the way the strength of their club, the defence, has played in back-to-back losses against Boston (2-0) and Montreal (4-1) on their current road trip.
This is not exactly good news for the Senators.
Ken Hitchcock will be demanding the strongest of performances from his Blues-liners, forwards and goalie this afternoon in Ottawa. St. Louis has not lost three in a row this season, and Hitch will be desperate to stop a slide before it gets out of control – like the one the Blues were on while losing their last six regular season games of the 2013-14 campaign.
All signs are pointing to Brian Elliott getting the start in goal for St. Louis. The ex-Senator has a 1-0-1 career record against his old team, including a .934 save percentage and 1.94 GAA.
Elliott stopped just 15 of 17 shots in his last outing, the loss at TD Garden Tuesday.
I see the Senators having a very difficult time scoring goals this afternoon … even Bobby Ryan, who has one in each of his last two games and 15 in 20 career games against St. Louis. Not so much because of Elliott, who once complained that the ice was too slippery (imagine that) at Canadian Tire Centre, but because the team will be determined to rebuild the wall it generally sets up in front of its net.
I see the Senators, who were 4-12-2 in afternoon games last season, starting this term’s schedule of matinees with a 0-1-0 record. In my opinion, the only way they don’t lose is if Robin Lehner plays the best game of his still young NHL career.

Back to work

- November 20th, 2014

The Senators return home Thursday night for the first time in 10 days. The start of a tough stretch with the Nashville Predators in town. Goalie Robin Lehner makes the start.
D-Day is coming for the Senators.
A roster move is around the corner. It has to be with Marc Methot closing in on good health.
There is no timetable for Methot but you have to think he’s about a week away. Not sure if the plan to send him to Binghamton for conditioning is still on the table. It has certainly been discussed and it wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Methot hasn’t played since last April. This injury has caused issues when he tries to skate. But he has looked better of late, although, it should be noted he was the first one off the ice today after the morning skate so not sure what kind of sign that is.
If he does return, something is going to have to happen with either Colin Greening or Erik Condra. You can only have 23 players and the Senators need to make room if _ and when _ Methot is completely healthy to play. I do think they’ll keep eight defencemen.

The Backup Plan

- November 20th, 2014

So the Senators are catching yet another break as their opponents once again have decided to start a backup goalie against them.
But how much of a break is it?
Granted, Pekka Rinne is one of the best ‘tenders in the world. Anytime you can avoid him, it’s a plus. But it’s not like Rinne has been lights out against Ottawa in the past. His lifetime record versus the Senators is 3-3-0, with a soft .895 save percentage and 2.99 goals against average.
Carter Hutton, who will start in goal for Nashville tonight, has never before faced the Senators. A 28-year old from Thunder Bay who was not drafted into the NHL, Hutton is 0-1 in two appearances this season. In his third NHL season, he owns a 20-13-0-5 record, a .911 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA.
As a backup making a rare appearance, Hutton will be geared up to show he’s worthy of his position. And the Predators might be inclined to bear down a little harder, knowing Rinne is not in their net.
Meanwhile, the Senators haven’t exactly taken advantage of backup goalies this season. Through their first 17 games, they have faced eight second stringers. Their record against them is 4-3-1.