Time for Ryan, Zibanejad to step up

- March 29th, 2015

On the season as a whole, Bobby Ryan has been the Senators best forward, if not their best player.
But such has not been the case the last two games.
Ryan, who admitted he had his worst game in a Senators jersey in Thursday’s loss to the Rangers, wasn’t much better Saturday at ACC. He had just one shot on goal and was virtually invisible.
And then there’s his centre, Mika Zibanejad.
Ryan said Zibanejad told him he also played his worst game of the season versus New York.
Against the Leafs, Zibanejad saw just 14:18 of ice time, less than any other Senators centre: Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s 17:17 (and he spent five minutes in the box after his first NHL fight), Kyle Turris’ 17:08, and even David Legwand’s 14:45.
I don’t think we’re at the point yet where the Pageau “All Right Line” is going to draw the toughest checking assignments. But other teams are having to pay attention to him, Curtis (Beaver Cleaver) Lazar and Erik Condra.
What should help the Zibanejad line is the return of Clarke MacArthur, who is now again skating with Kyle Turris and Mark Stone. That should be the Senators No. 1 or 1A line, which should free up some space for Zibanejad and his wingers.
In any case, Ryan and Zibanejad have to get back to playing like they were throughout most of the Senators remarkable run to playoff contention.
And they have to start now, Sunday, against the Florida Panthers. You thought the loss to the Leafs was a tough one to take? Another tonight against the Panthers would be the third in a row for the Senators, who play in Detroit Tuesday. This dream-like spring has the potential to unravel pretty fast.

Okay, it’s Anderson

- March 28th, 2015

TORONTO _ Craig Anderson is good to go.
The Senators’ goaltender confirmed Saturday morning he’s ready to return from a deep bruise to his blocker hand and he’ll start against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.
“I’m going to get in there and I’m going to give it a whirl,” said Anderson after the morning skate. “It felt pretty good this morning. I feel like where I need it to be at this point.”
Anderson has missed the better part of two months because of the ailment he suffered on Jan. 21 against the Leafs at home. He returned for two games but hasn’t played since March 10 when the injury flared up again after a loss to the Boston Bruins.
His return is good news for the Senators.
Goaltender Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond wasn’t even on the ice for the morning skate and limped out of the rink Friday before the club came to Toronto.
He may still dress as the backup but coach Dave Cameron said that decision hadn’t been made.
Winger Clarke MacArthur is ready to return from concussion he suffered and he’ll be in the lineup for winger Colin Greening.

Anybody’s guess

- March 27th, 2015

Who will be No. 1?
Who knows?
Dave Cameron isn’t sure who will start against the Maple Leafs Saturday night in Toronto.
Andrew Hammond limped out of the rink.
Craig Anderson is closing in on a return but didn’t declare himself ready.
He could be needed because Hammond limped didn’t look very good. ECHL callup Chris Driedger may get the start.
“I don’t know,” said Cameron.
Coming off a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers Thursday night, it should be pretty intriguing Saturday morning.
The Senators’ goaltender took part in an optional skate Friday morning, is making the trip to Toronto and could be eligible to play Saturday night.
Anderson said his bruised hand is making progress.
“I feel‎ really good. I’ve made strong progress but at this point right now we’re not sure about the weekend,” said Anderson Friday.
“Things are going in the right direction. We’ve seen a lot of good progress on the ice. It’s been excellent and we’re really close.”
Anderson has been out for the better part of two months with the injury he suffered against the Leafs on Jan. 21.
The Senators could also have winger Clarke MacArthur back from his concussion. He is waiting for the results of his tests but will

The Sens Mile

- March 26th, 2015

The Hamburglar chases the record Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre by collecting points in 16 straight games.
He can tie Patrick Lalime who went 14-0-2 in 2006-07 with Pittsburgh.
Down at city hall today, council was a little red-faced after Senators president Cyril Leeder asked them not to open the Sens Mile on Elgin Street after a motion Wednesday at council.
The decision was ill-advised and ridiculous in the first place.
Reversing it was the right thing to do.
Sometimes politicians can’t help themselves and get overzealous.
Assume that’s what happened here. They were excited. No bid deal really. But the whole idea lacked any thinking and it certainly sounds like the Senators weren’t consulted at all.
Let’s see what happens.

Beware of hungry Sharks

- March 23rd, 2015

If the Senators walk away with a victory from tonight’s game against San Jose, I will be surprised. And impressed.
Here’s why:
I am a strong believer in the desperation factor, and for the first time in a month, the Senators don’t need this game more than their opponents.
The Sharks have 78 points and, with 10 games left, are eight back of the last wild card spot.
The feeling is for them to get back to the playoffs for an 11th consecutive year, they pretty much have to win out.
This is their fourth game of a seven-game road trip (2-1-0 so far) and their last stop in Canada, after visits to Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.
They are desperate to go back across the border with two more points in the bag.
The Senators are one point behind the Bruins with two games in hand, which means they finally have some rope to play with, some room for error.
If they blow this shot at getting to a playoff spot tonight, there’s always Thursday night, when both Ottawa (vs. the Rangers) and the Bruins (vs. the Ducks) play again.
Plus, the Senators will be without two left wingers who have contributed to their recent success tonight: Milan Michalek, who appears to have a concussion, and Matt Puempel, who is out week-to-week with a high ankle sprain.
Taking their place will be Zack Smith, who has missed the last three months and is a better centre than a winger, and Colin Greening, who has played three NHL games since Jan. 8.
Help appears to be on the way at the LW spot in Clarke MacArthur, who is a long shot to play Thursday but could return Saturday in Toronto.
Then there’s the Hamburglar, who has already defeated the Sharks in San Jose but has allowed seven goals in his last two games.
Sharks centre Logan Couture admitted in the post-morning skate dressing room today he and his teammates have been watching film on how to beat Andrew Hammond. When they faced him the last time (a 4-2 Senators victory Feb. 28), they barely knew his name.
This magnificent run Hammond is on (13-0-1) has to end sometime, right? Will it be two games before he ties Patrick Lalime’s record for best start to a career ever (14-0-2) by an NHL goalie?
I wouldn’t be surprised.