Back to Battle

- October 21st, 2014

The Battle of Ontario is back.
No it isn’t what it used to be in its heyday but a visit by the Toronto Maple Leafs is always a good night.
The Senators come into this one on a roll. They are also going to catch the Leafs on the back end of a back-to-back so Ottawa has to take advantage of this situation.
The Leafs will be tired. By the time they arrive at their hotel _ after clearing customs _ it will be 1 a.m. at the earliest. These are the ones the Senators can’t afford to give away the advantage.
The Senators have gotten off to a good start but there is plenty of work to be done. They have been living dangerously.
This team needs to put 60 minutes together. That hasn’t always been the case this year. The Senators can’t have Mika Zibanejad remain pointless much longer. He is being relied upon to be a second-line centre so they need him.
Just an update: There were no changes today and coach Paul MacLean wouldn’t name his starting goalie. I suspect it will be Craig Anderson. I also think it’s time to get Jared Cowen back in the lineup.

Sitting Cowen

- October 17th, 2014

You have to think this will end soon.
Jared Cowen was signed to be one of their top defencemen. He struggled in the first three games but he won’t sit forever.
It sure looked like he will sit Saturday but that won’t be decided until after the morning skate.
I know everybody here feels he should be dealt.
I don’t see that happening _ at least not right now.
My sense is the Senators want this guy to play big minutes every night. Trading him doesn’t seem like an option. It will certainly become one if he keeps struggling.
The plan is to get Cowen back on track. To do that, he has to play. Patrick Wiercioch had his moments of struggle against Colorado Thursday night.
By the way, there is no update on Marc Methot. He hasn’t skated and there is no timetable for him to skate with his back injury.
Do you think the Senators should deal Cowen?
I’d say not at this juncture.

Randomly Speaking

- October 14th, 2014

As the Senators approach the 1/20.5th (I think) mark of their schedule, I feel it’s about time to look at what they’ve done to this point and what their prospects (not just Curtis Lazar) look like going forward.
1) They have to be very happy with a 2-1 start – given all three games were on the road – even though one was against the Florida Panthers, who could challenge the Buffalo Sabres for best peewee team of the year. But if that was a free spot on the bingo card, facing Tampa wasn’t. And Nashville could be a playoff team. So gaining four out of a possible six points that has them third in the division and tied for third in the conference is more than decent.
2) Filling the skates of Jason Spezza as the team’s new No. 1 centre, Kyle Turris is the Senators top scorer (and tied for 28th in the league) with three points. His wrist shot for a goal in Nashville was as good as you’re going to see, and he made a pretty nifty setup for Clarke MacArthur to score the lone goal in Sunrise. All in all, a good start for Turris.
3) On the other hand, Bobby Ryan is not exactly jumping out of the gate. He had just one assist in the three games, and generally speaking seemed to lack jump in the first two. But I thought he did play much better against the Panthers, and while he was slow in trying to intercept a pass that turned into a power play goal against Nashville, he made up for it by diving on the back check to take one away from the Panthers. Ryan would be the first to tell you he needs to start shooting the puck more. He put just four pucks on net on the road trip.
4) Erik Karlsson is being Erik Karlsson, which is both good and bad. He is generating chances, but he is getting beat defensively. He was the pylon that led to a breakaway for the Panthers in the first, and a little later he was also caught up ice for a Florida odd-man rush that turned into a hit post. As I noted on Twitter last night, I wonder how hard it is for the Senators to grasp a simple concept – when Karlsson goes on a rush, somebody has to drop back and cover for him.
5) I nailed the goaltending rotation before the trip began, with Craig Anderson starting the opener, Robin Lehner getting Tampa, and the Senators going back to Anderson in Florida, where he used to play, still lives, and has a dominating record as the visiting goalie. With five goals against and a shutout thus far, it seems to be working. Note: Watch for Anderson to start Thursday against Colorado because a) it’s another one of his former teams, b) it’s the home opener and he is still officially ranked as the team’s No. 1 goalie and c) he did throw up that goose egg.
6) I think they should tell Curtis Lazar to get an apartment. He played well in his first two games and he’s only going to get better. If for nothing else, the Senators need his physical play up front. They don’t have enough guys who finish their check the way the 19-year old does.
7) Of the two veterans coming off the healthy scratch list to make their season debuts against Florida, Erik Condra was more effective than Colin Greening. Of the four forwards who have now seen press box time – Lazar, Mike Hoffman, Condra and Greening – Greening has to be low man on the totem pole, and not just for salary reasons. Still, I do like the way he at least occasionally throws his big body around, especially when they don’t have enough muscle up front. I still look at it this way – do you go with Lazar or Greening? And do you go with Hoffman over Condra. The latter is the tougher call.
8) Who do you use as the sixth defenceman against the Avalanche, Patrick Wiercioch or Jared Cowen? I don’t think Mark Borowiecki or Eric Gryba are moving from their starting posts, at least not at the moment. I still seem to be one of the few outside the organization who hasn’t given up on Cowen, although his performance in the Nashville game had me teetering the other way.
9) And finally (for now), Alex Chiasson was very impressive, especially against Florida. I like the way he works down low and can hold onto the puck. He also continues to exhibit good offensive skills. Did you hear Nick Paul scored a hat trick for North Bay the other night? That Spezza trade is going to be a good one for the Senators.

Sitting and waiting

- October 11th, 2014

TAMPA _ There are no changes Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The sitting will have to sit and wait.
Colin Greening scratched. Erik Condra scratched. Patrick Wiercioch scratched. Younger players are getting a chance to play and that’s the way it will stay _ at least here against the Lightning.
The Senators just went through a three-week training camp. Making changes at this juncture would seem odd.
” I think for all the guys we’re talking about it’s patience, for myself, for the group, patience is an important part of our vocabulary this year. We have to make sure we are making decisions based on what’s best for the team,” said coach Paul MacLean this year.
Sooner or later, Greening will come into focus if he doesn’t start playing. He is in the first year of a three-year, $7.1 million extension. He’s not making that kind of money to sit. They have to get him going at some point or another.
The injury to Methot has taken some pressure off lineup decisions. It won’t be that way forever.
Enjoy the game. Don’t forget our live chat at ottawasun.com

Hey everybody

- October 7th, 2014

NASHVILLE _ Just landed after a nice afternoon flight here.
Maybe check out Broadway Boulevard tonight to see what’s happening.
The Senators will open the seaoson here Thursday.
GM Bryan Murray has tried to make a deal. He has spoken to a couple of teams but isn’t finding much in the way of action. Nobody is really making any significant moves at this juncture. Teams have their players and they’ve just come through camp.
Does this team make the playoffs?
Myself I think they somehow find a way. Everytime they we count them out they seem to get up off the mat and get going. Will be difficult in the East. Everybody around them has improved. Let’s hear your thoughts. Bobby please go ahead.

Forwards (14): Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris, Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, Zack Smith, Clarke MacArthur, David Legwand, Erik Condra, Chris Neil, Curtis Lazar, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Alex Chiasson and Mika Zibanejad.

Defence (7): Jared Cowen, Chris Phillips, Cody Ceci, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba, Erik Karlsson and Mark Borowiecki.

Goaltenders (2); Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.

Injured (1): Marc Methot, D.