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Alfredsson returns to Ottawa as Senators struggle

- November 29th, 2013

OTTAWA — 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.

So, what now?

- November 24th, 2013

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.

Looking for answers

- November 20th, 2013

OTTAWA _ Call them the soul-searching Senators.
They certainly are doing plenty of it these days.
Coming off a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday _ the club’s second straight _ the Senators sounded like a team doing a lot of naval-gazing to try to get its act together.
That’s the problem isn’t it: We are 21 games into the season and these guys haven’t got their act together.
“The most important (skill) that I feel we don’t have going on is listening. If someone is talking and no one is listening… there’s nothing going on. It’s like the tree in the forest hyperbole,” said coach Paul MacLean this morning.
MacLean said he has concerns this is happening at this juncture. No kidding. It shouldn’t be. The website www.sportsclubstats.com suggests the Senators have only a 35% chance of making the playoffs at this stage.
“Our biggest opponent is us. We have to find a way to get over us at the moment,” said MacLean.
Captain Jason Spezza said they are trying to find way.
“We’re still struggling with our consistency. We all can be better. It starts with me and the veteran guys,” said Spezza. “If we can lead by example then, hopefully, we can find a way out of this.
“We talk about (getting better) because you guys ask us about it. We want to get better. We’re working at things and we’re changing some things. The reason we talk about it so much is because you guys ask about it. We’d prefer not to talk about it and just work at it.”
I expected they’d be in disarray when I got back from my trip to Chicago to see the Bears at Soldier Field. I didn’t think it would be this desperate. Not at all.
Craig Anderson starts tonight.

Time to start Dandy Andy

- November 10th, 2013

A quiet Sunday. The Senators had a pre-planned off-day following their 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers Saturday.
Goaltender Craig Anderson will be ready to play Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. I think he will start. Some don’t think that should be the case. He is the No. 1 goalie. You have to give the reins and let him go.
Not everybody will agree. Coach Paul MacLean was a little non-commital following the game Saturday.
“Well today’s only Saturday so I’ve got two days to think about that, but we’re going to go through practice on Monday and Tuesday,” MacLean said Satyrdat. “Craig Anderson is the No. 1 goalie here in Ottawa and, if he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”
And, so he should. Look, Robin Lehner has been marvelous Nobody will argue that point. He has been strong, but he Anderson deserves the right to play. If he loses his job through his play, then so be it. He shouldn’t lose it through injury.

A quick update from Ottawa

- November 7th, 2013

OTTAWA _ The Senators will try to shake off the doldrums at home Thursday night.

Coming off a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, coach Paul MacLean won’t make any changes against the Montreal Canadiens at the Canadian Tire Centre as the club begins a five-game homestand.

That means Robin Lehner will make his second straight start in place of an injured Craig Anderson. Lehner had 32 stops against the Jackets. MacLean said winning the Senators need to stop the five-game slump at home.

“(Losing here) would be a nice habit to get rid of,” said MacLean Thursday morning. “We have home games here in November. Again, we’ve played well in our last three games. Can we play well again? That’s the challenge for us.

“If we can play well again here tonight then a bulk of our games the rest of November are at home. We’d like to get some traction and get moving.”

The Senators will dress Nathan Lawson as the backup against the Habs but his stay could be short. Goalie Craig Anderson was on the ice for an extended period Thursday and it would appear he’ll be ready Saturday against the Panthers.

MacLean said he didn’t have a timetable on Anderson but felt the fact he was on the ice all morning was “a good sign. He was out early. I haven’t talked to him but I would take that as being very positive.”