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.

Slightly different look for Senators

- November 19th, 2014

For what it’s worth at 10:58 a.m. the day before a game …
Chris Phillips left practice early. If he can’t go tomorrow – and I fully expect Paul MacLean to say it will be a game time decision, we expect Patrick Wiercioch to return from exile.
Unless …..
Marc Methot is again practicing beside Erik Karlsson. Now, we know MacLean said just last week he didn’t expect Methot to return before the end of the month, but I didn’t believe that for a second.
Is it too early for him to suit up Thursday versus Nashville? Probably. But he does look good out there.
Would MacLean keep him out at least a couple of more days just so it would be closer to the end of the month? Nah. No way. Would he?

Meanwhile, MacLean has done some shuffling with his lines today. David Legwand is now the centre on the “second line”, with Mika Zibanejad being shifted to the wing. Bobby Ryan is on the other side.
The trickle down effect has Zack Smith back in the middle, between Milan Michalek and Chris Neil.
MacLean is likely to tell us not to read anything into the changes. Experience tells us the exact opposite.

City of Champs

- November 12th, 2014

Now this feels like hockey season.
There was a fair amount of snow on the ground and a cold bite in the air when the Senators arrived in Edmonton in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, fresh off their 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
From what we’re told, Curtis Lazar is all the buzz in the City of Champions.
The Senators rookie, who’s making his return to the scene of his fine junior career, was the only member of the Kid Line who didn’t score in Tuesday’s loss to Vancuver. Lazar, who has now gone the first 13 games without a goal, did have an assist, however, and he led the Senators with five shots on goal.
You get the feeling that first one could come in Edmonton, and how fitting would that be?
The Senators showed a lot of resilience against the Canucks, bouncing back from one-goal deficits three times to send the game into OT and gain a point. All in all, not a bad result against a Vancouver team that’s been one of the early season surprises in the NHL.
Coach Paul MacLean was pretty hot after Daniel Sedin’s winner. He objected to Kyle Turris getting hauled down a few moments before the goal, without a penalty being called. MacLean guarded his words after in his post-game scrum, however. He’s learned not to chastise officials in the media.
There’s no practice today for the Senators. They are making two players avail, Lazar and Chris Phillips. but I’ll also be writing some stuff I have saved over on Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone.
Both of them now have five goals, which has them among the NHL’s rookie leaders and tied for second on the team behind Clarke MacArthur’s seven.
The Kid Line has suddenly become the Senators second line, in my opinion.
One thing I found confusing yesterday was MacLean stating that Marc Methot isn’t expected back this month. He talked about how energizing it was for Methot to skate with the team yesterday, but that announcement would have to be demoralizing to Methot, who I’d bet certainly has designs on coming back earlier.
Unfortunately, the Senators will not let us speak with Methot to get his thoughts on the matter. He is not officially back practising with the team.
Anyway, gotta get ready to speak with Lazar and Phillips. Later.

Gearing up for the Canucks

- November 10th, 2014

The Senators arrived in Vancouver this afternoon at 12:30 pm (pacific time) and went from the plane to practice at Rogers Arena, formerly known as The Garage.
Marc Methot is on the trip, but not on the ice with the team as I type.
The guess here is he won’t play on this three game road trip … they brought him along to skate (and be monitored) by conditioning coach Chris Schwarz. I can safely say nobody thought Methot would miss the first 13 games of this season – and counting – with the back/hip injury.
Meanwhile, coach Paul MacLean has split up the Kid Line (as he did during Sunday’s game). Mark Stone is skating with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur, while Mike Hoffman has been promoted to the second line with Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan.
The veteran third line consists of Milan Michalek, David Legwand and Chris Neil, while Curtis Lazar has moved from centre to right wing, where he is lined up beside middleman (again) Zack Smith and Alex Chiasson.
I’m wondering if MacLean is going to make Patrick Wiercioch a healthy scratch again Tuesday night. This is his hometown, but MacLean doesn’t really ever seem to concern himself with such details.
Defensive pairings have Mark Borowiecki beside Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen next to Cody Ceci and Chris Phillips alongside Eric Gryba.
Starting in goal against the Canucks, I’m willing to wager ANYTHING, will be Craig Anderson. He was named the NHL’s second star of the week earlier today.
Anyway, I’m going to turn my attention back to practice. Later.