So, it returns.
The Senators vs. the Maple Leafs. Saturday night at Canadian Tire Centre. This is pretty much neutral territory because I always consider the rink to be a 50/50 split _ which is pretty pathetic but also reality.
The Senators need wins. They need them bad. The club is sitting seven points out of a playoff spot. They keep saying they should be better. They keep saying they aren’t performing up to expectations. They keep saying they aren’t working hard enough. Okay, there has to be a bigger problems.
Maybe the problem is they just aren’t good enough. Maybe they overestimated the development of some of their players. Maybe those players who looked great coming up from Binghamton last year look awfully human when Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner aren’t making saves.
Coach Paul MacLean has to change his tune a little here. Saying after every game “we don’t work hard enough” is getting tired and old. I guess I _ like many others _ are wondering why this is happening. It’s up to the coach to find answers. Has the loss of captain Daniel Alfredsson meant this much? Maybe it has.
The Senators chances of making the playoffs are rated at 14.8% by www.sportsclubstats.com. This is a site that many NHL owners read _ including Eugene Melnyk _ to see where their club stands. A win tonight against the Maple Leafs might rate the chances a bit.
The Senators don’t have a great ability in beating the Leafs in games that mean something. The club needs a victory here badly. A loss here and they fall nine points out of a playoff spot with a lot of teams to climb over.
Time to find answers and start winning games. The moral victories and “we’re making steps in the right direction” really don’t matter anymore.
So, it returns.
The Senators will welcome back Daniel Alfredsson Sunday night.
They aren’t the same without him. They are a shadow of what they were last season. I can guarantee you nobody wants Alfredsson and the Red Wings to walk out of here with two points. The club’s struggles have been well documented. This has a lot to do with his departure but it’s not everything.
Here’s what I see as the problems:
No. 1: They make the same mistakes over and over and over and over and over. Coach Paul MacLean said the answer is practice, practice, practice and practice. Okay, well if practice is supposed to make perfect, these guys need to do a better job at practice. It isn’t happening.
No. 2: Might be time to allow Robin Lehner to carry the ball and run with it because Craig Anderson is struggling big time. They can say what they want about the way they play in front of him but he needs to make saves. Anderson can’t do that at the moment. He’s getting beaten from everywhere. Those goals vs. the Canucks weren’t good.
No. 3: It is time to make a trade, a callup or do something. That defence has been horrid. Jared Cowen, Eric Gryba, Patrick Wiercioch have all struggled. Erik Karlsson makes mistakes. That’s part of his game. I get it. A lot of people don’t. He’s better off in the lineup than out.
No. 4: Get somebody to play with Jason Spezza. I know he’s supposed to make the players around him better but Milan Michalek is clearly struggling and Cory Conacher. Well if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.
No. 5: String two wins together, It’s not that tough.
It would appear the Senators Heritage jersey, which will be released tomorrow, has landed on some shelves early.
Essentially it’s a white version of the club’s third jersey.
Senators captain Jason Spezza and Vancouver captain Daniel Sedin will attend a press conference Thursday morning at the rink to unveil the look. Here is a copy that is show on Icethetics website.
The Senators will wear the jersey in the Heritage Classic set for March 2nd at the B.C. Place in Vancouver.
Here is the link:
I’m not at the rink today – nor was I with Senators on their weekend road trip – but something has been bugging me ever since I saw on TV Kevin Westgarth ram Mark Borowiecki’s head into the boards from behind Sunday in Raleigh.
That something, of course, is the fact nobody went after Westgarth.
I know he’s a mountain of a man at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds. I know he is also one of the toughest guys in the league. And I know that the softer Senators were on the ice at the time of the incident.
But seriously, somebody should have done something. Fight him, stick him, grab him … anything. If not at the time, then at least later in the game. And if not to Westgarth, then to one of the Hurricanes’ smaller, more skilled players.
I have a problem with guys – Borowiecki being a prime example – having to fight when they deliver a clean, hard, open ice hit. But intentional or not, that was a dirty play. Is there another team in the league that would have watched one of its own get injured like that without retaliating at some point, in some form? I don’t think so.
Instead, the Senators sent a message to every other player in the NHL – it’s okay to take liberties against them. You may or may not have to answer the bell.
Maybe next time, an opponent won’t even think twice before drilling a Bobby Ryan or Kyle Turris or Erik Karlsson in similar fashion.
Just shows how much they miss a Matt Carkner, doesn’t it?
When Brian Boyle gave Karlsson a face wash in a playoff game a couple of years back – the same way Westgarth did to Karlsson later in Sunday’s game, as a matter of fact – Carkner took care of him at his first opportunity.
Put to a Senator, you will be told that there was no retribution sought on Westgarth because they couldn’t afford to take a penalty in a game they needed to win. That’s crap. For one thing, not avenging the cheap shot didn’t help them avoid defeat, did it? For another, the Senators rallied around Carkner in the above mentioned playoff match. They killed the penalties to their enforcer, and used the momentum to go on and claim victory against the Rangers that night.
They stood up for each other and grew as a team.
Whatever comes of the league’s hearing with Westgarth this morning is irrelevant. If he is suspended, as he should be, it will not help the Senators. And whether or not Borowiecki misses any more action as a result of the hit is also a moot point.
Allowing opponents to run a defenceless team mate without any repercussions makes you look soft and divided.
The irony of it all is, Borowiecki would have eventually caught up to anybody that did something like that to one of his fellow Senators. You can be sure of that.
Westgarth was given a 2-game suspension for the hit today.
RALEIGH _ The Senators arrived here in the wee hours of the morning.
Next up is the Carolina Hurricanes at 5 p.m.
Big challenge. The Senators haven’t won a lot here.
Of course, the biggest question: Who will start in net?
It has to be Robin Lehner. It is time to ride the hot hand. This team needs wins. In four of his last five games, Lehner has given the team a chance to win. It makes sense to stay with him.
The Senators have gone a long way in declaring Craig Anderson the No. 1 goalie. We get that. We know it. He can keep the title. But the Senators need to get back into the playoff race. They need to make sure they are within sniffing distance.
They can’t afford to keep up this inconsistency. Lehner made the saves in Detroit. The Senators were outchanced 9-2 in the first period. Coach Paul MacLean was talking about ‘alternating’ the goalies in back-to-backs then said something different after the game. To be fair to MacLean, he professes everything with ‘at this point in time.’
Today’s decision will be interesting. I think it will be _ and should be _ Lehner.
What do you think. Mike888 get the conversation started.