James Day Preview: Cruddy Area Team Takes On Somehow Worse Team.

Showin off my new ink!

Showin off my new ink!

Hey there, hi there, ho there,

How’s everyone do- – *skips formalities b/c life’s 2 $hort and I ain’t got much thyme*

McCokedreams
K, so first off…I must address something here. Something I have coined “Connor Coke Dreams.”

Look, I’m not saying the Sens are just playing rope-a-dope and are poised to break out and suddenly be amazing but my G’s out there who are prepped to get hubristic 97s stitched onto their knockoff jerseys (IT HAPPENS) chill for minute.
A quick look at the standings shows there are currently NINE teams below Ottawa. Many by a small margin but still NINE. Les boys are coming off an extremely rough stretch of games where they played some of the league’s best teams and many of them on the road. Bad as they’ve been of late, they’ve still managed to collect 5 of  8 points in their last 4 games. Their 6 overtime losses also shows that even though they stink, they still manage to collect those Penske points that keep them in the mix in the toilet East. They’re down but I don’t know if they’re quite bottom 5 out just yet.
At times like this, you also have to show some respect the Shittiness GAWDS. You know where this is going…You think Ottawa’s got suck game? Edmonton has dropped 16 of their last 17 baby fella. Ima let that sink in. 16…of their last 17. They have almost half as many wins as Ottawa, almost twice as many losses and they play in the West where motherfuckers play for KEEPS. Context: The Sens next game is against the Devils…the Oilers get to play the Sharks IN San Jose tomorrow. God bless the dead.
Now, I’ve gotten some counter arguments about the Draft Lottery making McDavid pick a possiblity, but is that really what you want to pin your cokedreams to? The current 21st overall team hitting Draft Lottery and it’s not even the 2015 portion of the season yet? Plus draft lotteries are a form of snitching. Also, you know that shit’s rigged and Lord Bettman is going to make sure the Penguins or Blackhawks get the no. 1 pick so #staywoke!

HEYYYY Sens could definitely go in the turlet from here but that’s completely dismissing the possibility that they could play slightly better and string together a few wins and play themselves out of that top 10 between December 17th 2014 and draft day 2015.
You think I DON’T want Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel? I do, I do, 1000 times I do…but I’ma wait a few months before I start digging into the draft rankings (zzz) and I suggest you do too if you’re tempted to. It’s supposed to be a deep draft and if there’s one thing the Sens organization is good at (and it might actually only be one thing at the present moment) it’s drafting. Trust in our scouts and go easy on your soul. The Oilers have more than proven that they rule supreme at securing the no.1 draft spot. If you aim for the king, you best not miss. So until the Sens get on their dropping 16 of 17 grind, you gotta give up to the masters. Oh also, the Hurricaines are really, really, really fucking terrible as well.

Praise B 2 Jah Gabriel Pageau
A lot of Sens lineup fahntasies are coming true tonight. With the injuries to the lethargic Zack Smith and whatever Chris Neil is at this point…tonight we get to see some interesting changes to the lineup. I don’t know about you Eddy, and I don’t WISH injuries on anyone, but Zack Smith has not been himself this season and Neil I’ve just been watching for the past 25 years and just want to see him “bring grit to a contender” at this point in his career. I recognize he must have some INTENSE photos of someone on his phone and is unscratchable for it so I will take this as a great time to someone fill his fortress of a roster spot. I’m super excited for the chance to see some line up options we might not otherwise if both were healthy. Oh also, Greening is back in the pressbox, #blessed. He hasn’t been awful I guess but we already have Michalek who gets paid the big buxxx to fill the role “he hasn’t been awful I guess” thank you very much.

Coming off strong games from Stone, Chiasson and Courteous Lazar,  who btw showed that is even his Ned Flandesesque patience has its limits and he could no longer wait for Greening to score a goal before taking is turn and bagged his career first. Congrats to the Iron Toddler. Bless up.
We get to see more youth and, thankfully, speed injected into the lineup tonight with the debut of JG Pageau. After a blazing entry into the NHL, Pageau was quiet in his 28 game audition last season. I am literally first and only person who’s talked about this storyline thanks for reading. Seriously though, he’s one of my favourite prospects and I’m so pumped to get to see the little guy back, long overdue.  fldfksdfl;ksdjf

On the Real
I have been a proponent of the passing of the torch in Ottawa for more than a minute now. Seeing Turris and Ryan wearing letters has me thirsting for the futuristic year two thousand and please don’t give Neil and Phillips another contract but I’m so scared you will. Ryan especially has just been oozing leadership of late scoring opening goals, nailin’ ‘er shut (bud) in the shootout, flashing highlight reel biscuits and just generally being all over the ice; all the while playing with a busted finger. Good times, bad times, dude’s been such a gamer for the Sens and I commend the guy for it. Hope he can keep it going.

Getting’ Jiggy Unreasonable With It!
Lastly, tonight needs to be a big night for goaltending. Lehner and Anderson have been heaped with praise so far this season and rightly so. They were essentially mostly responsible for keeping Ottawa above .500 for the first couple months of the season. It was almost a situation where the more they were pelted with shots, they better they performed.
Toward the end of Paul MacLean’s tenure and so far under Dave Cam’Ron the team in front of them has managed to cut the shots down to a more reasonable amount but the wins just haven’t been there. Lights out goaltending’s got to put them over the edge if we want to see some W’s.
It almost seems unreasonable to ask more of the goaltenders but I’m an unreasonable person so let me cook. Anderson needs to go in there and straight up steal this one. We knew from game 1 it was going to have to be that kind of season and with Marc Methot now in officially in chryostasis, it remains so…more than ever. So, pretty please, with Splenda on top, steal his one, Andy.

Enjoy the game despite it starting at 7:00pm and being on the road against the Devils!

James Day Preview: The Ottawa Garfields take on the Buffalo Mondays

Normal Stuff.

Normal Stuff.

Hi,

Is hockey stupid or great? It’s a question that’s baffled anthropaleontobotonists for centauries. I mean, I certainly don’t know. Maybe I don’t want to know. Frankly, it’s a debate that we, as living people, can probably do without…also, I’m high on Angel Dust. Let’s talk about THE GAME…but first, allow me to talk at length about something OTHER….than the game:

We’ve had lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fun so far After a quite a lackluster first quarter of the season, for better or worse or samsies, we are already bearing witness to a new chapter in Sens history: The Dave Cameron Era (dot net). I suppose I have been quiet about the whole Paul MacLean firing thing and since no one gives a good goddamn about what I think (MOM AND DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD) I will now briefly address it:

I was a big fan of Paul MacLean as a coach and a person. From his first press conference on, Paul was like a breath of fresh air for the organization. I remember thinking from the start that if the Sens were going to be mediocre at best , still developing team, at least the scrums would be entertaining. He took some pretty whatevs rosters to the playoffs two out of three times and gave us something we had been thirsting for since the fateful summer of ’07, a playoff win. A. Decisive. Playoff. Win. Against a rival with some of the most humble fans in the world, no less.
Now, to call the time that followed that glorious playoff victory “disappointing” would be…yeah, that would be accurate. Seeing our beloved team go from looking poised to take the next step and maybe just maybe be a threat in the east to what I’d call consistently lethargic was tough on the soul.
This is season was supposed to be a fresh start to get away from all that but things were starting to feel similar to last year and frighteningly early.
There was a lot of criticism of MacLean’s player usage among fans and at first I defended it. “Hey its not his fault that he feels obligated to shake things up in an attempt to get lethargic players going.” I must admit though, after a while, it felt like PMac was being flat out stubborn and at some points his decisions seemed bizarre.
“Paul,” I would say to my Dream Journal, “I get that you can’t fix Methot’s injury. And it’s clear that you don’t like Patrick Wiercioch and, fam I feel you, he hasn’t been tremendous, but has he be been ‘scratch him like 10 straight games bad?’”
My dude would shake the forward corps up beyond belief (I’ll get to that) but Phillips spent weeks as the team’s worst defender by quite a margin and would still get a boat load of minutes and, worse, not so much as a sniff for Wiercioch. Weird Choix.

As for the forward lines, if you follow me on twitter (thx 4 muting!), you know what my breaking point was with Paul MacLean. A little hot jazz number called, “MacArthur – Turris – Condra.” Like the Borowiecki – Karlsson pairing before it, this is not necessarily an indictment of Condra. Anyone who follows the team closely knows Condra is a great player…A GREAT FOURTH LINE PLAYER. Seeing shit like 16-7-22 whilst mired in a lengthy losing streak just had me throwing my hands in the air like I very much gave a fucking care. It was that one line combo in particular that just made me think, “What am I even looking at anymore?” Like, yeah, I’m a Cyber Badboy but I’m no coach (spoiler!) but maybex given the chance to unfuck things I would try something crazy like giving Bobby Ryan, a player who gets paid over 7 million dollareedoos a year to score goals, one full game on a line with two players that he was on pace to score over 40 goals with at one point last year. Yeah, I’m crazy. I’d try that. But you know, one blogger shitheel’s perennial 30 goal scorer is another coach’s 28 year old 4th liner who’s career high is 8 goals. CLEARLY I DON’T UNDERSTAND COACHING. I’m a let your strategy cook while dip this cigarette in some Sherm. It makes you feel good.

We’ve seen 2 games of Dave Cameron and so far we’ve witnessed one win and one loss both solid efforts but I’ma keep my expectations level. He still has the same flawed roster to work with and will face the same challenges (RIP Marc Methot) but I just hope if he does one thing that he calms things down a bit. Just play to the teams strengths and keep a semblance of a reasonable top 6 and I’m good for the balance of the season. Also, I think scratching Phillips took some guts.
Anyway, if the alternative was more of what we were getting from MacLean, I don’t see how this is worse entertainment wise. Lastly, if Cam’Ron can ease some of the tensions that apparently were festering with the star players and MacLean that would be fantastic. I don’t care about any of this coach killer talk. With the exodus of talent that we’ve been forced through as fans, excuse me if I side with making the players happy. If we’re going to be a mediocre, developing team for the next while, I still want to have a couple of players with the talent to keep butts in the seats thanks very much. Remember, MacLean wasn’t John Paddock or anything. He was in his fourth season as coach. Plenty of time for things to go sideways. Going into this season, as a fan, I was told that he would do two things. 1. Repair bruised relationships with players. 2. Keep the lines consistent. A quarter of the way into another lackluster season he’d done neither. I thank him for a lot of good memories and wish him luck in the future. We’ll always have May 2013, old friend.
End Rant. Thx for reading….

…………….OH RIGHT THE GAME.

*straightens noose being used as tie*

Ahhh, the Sens get their long awaited chance to pad their place in the standings by playing the lowly Buffalo Sabres OH GOOD NOW THAT WE GET PLAY THEM THEY’RE ONE OF THE HOTTEST TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE.

December 15th, 2014: The Buffalo Sabres are one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League because whatever fuck #BLESSED

Oh and also, Jonas Enroth is leading the team with stellar goaltending. Cool, well I guess the blogging gods just want to give me nothing to make fun of.
I suppose the Sens called up Pageau to park himself in the crease and cast a shadow over him…there. *Dusts hands* 

Oh and whats this? Tyler Ennis was just named 1st star of the week. Cool, cool, very cool. I don’t know what else to say about Buffalo because until recently, they’ve been Buffalo. So…

K

Whatever tho, they’re still the Buffalo Sabres. In their last three games, we’ve seen Ottawa storm back from a 3 goal deficit against the Canucks, hold it down and not get run over by the Kings and beat Boston…in an afternoon game. I can’t hate the Sens chances against the GD Sabres. In fact, if we see a comparable effort to their last two games we should be in for a h_ck of a match.

Pa………..oh, you know how that ‘geau.
After making a strong case as the best player in this year’s training camp, and receiving heaps of praise from Binghamton coach Luke Richardson, Jean Gabriel Pageau was called up from the AHL…to get Chris Phillips a fresh beer when he needs one in the press box. Well, if I have to wait to watch Pageau in exchange for a second straight game not watching Phillips, I suppose I have to take that as a victory. Plus we get to watch the most electrifying player on Earf and Milford Academy player of the year Milan Michalek!

POSITIVES: Going into this game a lot of the right players are heating up. Ryan and Zibanejad have been playing some fantastic hockey of late and with Mike Hoffman as their third, that line could go from heating up to downright dangerous. There must have been some magic in that old white fedora they found because Ziba’s been nothing short of the player we’d all been hoping for when he was drafted. Ryan? Well, this is how  my dude can play with a broken finger. Probably broke it pointing it into the chests of haters.

*Skips over Michalek – Legwand – Greening line because I’ve already put you through enough*

Wait…#actually, Legwand’s been doing pretty well lately…no one cares? We all agree, no one cares. Moving on:

Whoa now, Condra – Lazar – Chiasson? Now that’s what I call a forth line. A great possession/defensive player, an exciting rookie with a solid all around game and a big body net crasher who’s been playing against much tougher competition this season. Honestly can’t wait to check this out.

Your 2014-15 Ottawa Senators: Area Man Excited About 4th Line of Our 7th Place Team and How It Matches Up Against the 8th Place Team.

Lehner gets his second consecutive start. Should out to Lehner’s shootout performance. He’s really grown that part of his game. He only let in Marchand’s in-sane deke…srsly, check out that deke…. It’s mad stressful. I don’t know who the hell would out wait that.  Anyway, love him getting to build on a great win against a shitty rival who I hate.

Enjoy the game and remember: Iz just Sabres…and if the Sens lose? Blame it on the rain*

*Angel dust.

In which we pretend to know anything about hockey coaching

Senators management fired coach Paul MacLean today. They were tired of his propensity to make his players skate more slowly than the other team’s players.

Also, sometimes when Ottawa Senators players shot the puck it was too high or too low or just right, but mostly too high or too low. It could have been the slow skating. They should have skated faster and followed through.

The back-to-back losses to the Islanders were the last straw. They could no longer stomach MacLean’s insistence on playing four lines for different minutes. With players on each line. Into the zone.

We at WTYKY wish Paul MacLean all the best, and hope that in his next gig he remembers that the glass goes all the way around the rink. Except in the places where it stops. So the players can get off the bench. A-doi. And that he figures out the correct proportion of grit to mix into his skill pie.

MacLean’s replacement will have a big job ahead of him. He’ll have to untrain the Senators in their current system of up-tempo sideways-skating low-tempo bullish sheepish Event Hockey and institute a strong 1-3-4-1-goalie setup until you pull the goalie when there’s time left on the clock until there isn’t anymore. As is the style in NHL 3.0.

All I know is that when we see David Legwand do what he’s known for doing–which is breaching the zone with his left leg and then his right leg, the other team will think, “Ok: these guys know what they’re doing now.”

And then this team will win the Stanley Cup.

Roundtable: Legacy of Legacies, Lord of Light Edition

Alfie Retires in ottawa

There won’t be a dry eye in the house when this is raised to the rafters tomorrow night.

VARADA SAYS:

Well, the day has finally arrived.

Daniel Alfredsson is retiring. Captain of the team for 14 years. Franchise leader in points with 1108, and it’s not even close. (Second is Spezza with 687.)  Franchise leader in goals (426) and assists (682). The clutchiest goal scorer to ever clutch. He scored arguably the biggest goal in franchise history:

Sure, he went to another team for a season, but that’s no biggie in my mind. Modano did it. Iginla did it. Lacavalier and St. Louis did it. And Alfie did it after took well under market value for several years of his career, played in a smaller market when he could have bolted to the Wings years earlier, was counted on well into his late 30s to be the centerpiece of the team and then had to take shit for it when he couldn’t single-handedly take them to victory. There’s no bad blood at all. Didn’t you watch Interstellar? Love is like time and gravity. It’s in space and we’re running out of food.

Alfie missed a season-and-a-half to labor stoppages in the prime of his career and when the team was highly competitive, meaning he should be well over his career 1157 points and maybe even have that elusive Cup. To me, his longevity, productivity, and importance to the Ottawa community clearly puts him in the Hall of Fame, even if he never won a major award. (I guess the Calder counts, doesn’t it?)

Less tangibly, though, I really began to understand his contributions, and develop a new appreciation for Alfredsson after he left. Watching the current iteration of the Ottawa Senators without a consistent, two-way force like Alfredsson on the ice to slow down and dictate the flow of play has been a real eye-opener, sort of like how food looks on the front of the frozen dinner box v. how it looks after you cook it. He was a steadying hand, asked to guide a young franchise to stability, then asked to raise his game when the window of contention was open, then asked once again to be a leader when the team went into a rebuild. He did it all without complaint, even apologizing at times.

When I think back on the years with Alfredsson as captain, I think of two things: 1) the number of times he shouldered the blame for the team not beating the Leafs or winning a Cup, 2) all the little times in between those big moments, all the dumb little games in late February against the Hurricanes or Columbus or whoever when Alfredsson would pull out a late-game tying goal, or single-handedly lead the rush after a lethargic period, or score shorthanded and change the tone of the game.

He’s important to the team, obviously, but there’s just no getting away from the fact that he was also a really, really good hockey player. The whole league is losing out on a star, here, not just Senators fans.

JAMES SAYS: 

First off, let me unnecessarily point out that I think Daniel Alfredsson is the greatest player in Ottawa Senators history. Bar none. Maybe a few players with more raw talent have graced/disgraced our roster over the years but in terms of that all encompassing, only semi-tangible “greatness”? The Greatest. All you Punch Broadbent backers out there can jump in a lake. Punch just wasn’t the same player after the Great War when the National Hockey Association changed to the National Hockey League. Plus you have to factor in his decision to holdout for most of the 1921 season! YOU HAVE TO FACTOR IN THE 1921 HOLDOUT. I don’t need to go over that as we’ve all had this argument a million times over a Manhattan (or 3, epic olde tyme LOLz) at the speakeasy! But let’s sober up and have a Phosphate down at the soda fountain before we dig into this pressing Alfie discussion:

K

First, I will address the red elephant with wheels and wings in the room with the airing of grievances.

WARNING: Talk Might Get Real At Some Points. Reader discretion is advised (j/k, no one is reading at this point).

In his last few years with the Sens, in the post-Cup Final decline, the question would periodically arise, “Will Alfie leave at the trade deadline for his chance to play for a true Cup contender?”

This was understandably a question that would put many Ottawa fans on the defensive (WHAT? NOT OTTAWA FANS! IT’S ALMOST LIKE WE’RE INSECURE TO THE POINT THAT WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE PUSHED AROUND BY THE FANS OF ANOTHER ONTARIO TEAM AS IFTHEY’RE NOT THE ONES BACKING ONE OF THE MOST EMBARRASSING SPORTS TEAMS OF THE PAST HALF CENTURY…see, I for one, am totally chill about it). What was I talking about? Oh yeah, so in years past when the question would arise about how I’d feel about Alfie potentially moving on in the twilight of his career for a shot at the Cup, I would wholeheartedly say that I had no problem with it. Sure, I’d love to see him retire as a Senator but recognizing where the team was at and most importantly that he did more, gave more to the franchise than any other player in our history? He didn’t owe us a God. Damn. Thing…Then it actually happened and when it did, it was not the charming trade deadline “Run along to the Kings/Blackhawks/Definitely Western Team…you go get that Cup you’ve so earned…………….goodnight sweet prince” situation I had anticipated it would be.

Instead, it was a brief, bitter contract dispute  and krthn,sbjkbjdgsdlak;jfgkjdfgl;skdfjgdfkjvnsdkd;f.

What fucked me up most about it was the way that it all went down. He’s a human being and all but it just felt so very un-Alfie. Now, like you’re saying Varada, Alfie did not always make a ton of money here. It was often the case that in order to help the team to retain other star players and stay within the cap (‘MEMBER THEM DAYZ?!) he would take a bit of a “hometown” discount on his deals. He’s from Gothenburg but I digress, he sacrificed. And believe me, the Captain sacrificed a ton of money, after all, he’d only made about $62,000,000 in salary in his career by 2013. Let’s be realistic with ONLY 62 million dollars (not counting any endorsements or holdings and investments) in the bank, you’ve got to think of that college fund for little Fenixx Alfredsson at that stage in life. What’s that? College is free in Sweden? Let’s regain our focus.

K, the part that always bugged me about Alfie and the Sens ugly parting of ways was that I found overall Alfie got a COMPLETE pass. Like the split was entirely the organization’s doing. As I said, Alfie is a human, but he had said to the press in Sweden that he’d re-sign with the Sens and play another year one day before the split occurred.

Okay, so you got low balled and were insulted. That’s fine but all due respect, isn’t that a bit how negotiating with a budget team like the Sens works? I get it that they’re supposed to pony up for the long serving captain but I’m fairly certain they weren’t like “Let’s do 1 million dollars again.” For me, the speed that it all went down indicates that he did not even present a counter-offer but rather that when he didn’t get what he wanted, he just bolted. Bolted for a a whooping 5.5 million dollareedoos BTMFingW. As a huge Alfredsson fan, I must personally admit my reaction to his side of it was, “Cool, you didn’t get the number you were expecting so thanks for basically not even negotiating and jumping ship in one day after 17 years here.” Now, there’s a lot of he said, he said going on but one thing I know for DAMN certain is that the Sens did not offer anywhere near that 5.5 mill because that’s just a flat out insane amount of money for a budget team to give a player who’d turn 41 like 2 months into the season. Not even far more storied, slam dunk first ballot Hall of Famers like Jaromir Jagr or Teemu Selanne made that much at that age.

Also interesting is how quick Detroit came through with the blow the doors off, outbid any other potential suitors offer. Curious. Slightly tough for me to buy that all in one morning, not day, morning that all went down organically like, “Hey heard the Sens only offered you $2.75 mill….they don’t love you like Kenny Holland do. Ima double that.” *Alfie hops on the back of Mike Babcock’s D12 themed custom chopper*

The Wings are still a really good team but I don’t think they’re still true Cup contender good. Deep down I think Alfie left for the big payday with a better shot at the Cup as a bonus. Regardless, it took some time for me not to be kind of pissed at both parties over everything.

Watching the Sens completely steamroll the Wings in their first meeting felt really fucking good I must say. Especially that the new hotness, Bobby Ryan, had a really solid game and scored a nice goal…then came the second meeting…in Ottawa. Despite lingering bitterness I bought tickets and even felt compelled to wear my home red Alfredsson jersey for the first time since the much, much, much nicer heritage was released. Seeing him out there on the ice again, watching that video of his countless amazing moments with the Senators, breaking out the 11:11 chant, it made all the shitty feelings go away. I found myself happy for him and happy to move forward. Not my ideal scenario but I was back to “He doesn’t owe us a God. Damn. Thing.” mode. I just hoped that over time he and the Sens could work out their differences so they could one day retire his number at the CTC. With all that’s come to light about Bryan Murray’s health, I couldn’t be happier that it’s been worked out sooner than later. I have my tickets and my Alfie red on deck and am so pumped for Thursday. The Return of the King™.

As for the Hall of Fame question, I personally think he’s a hall of fame player. Predicting him a first ballot guy is about as tough as calling “Do you think tonight’s game will be reffed well?” Some things are best left to celestial beings that govern the cosmos.
Sure, he has no Cups but if you look at comparable Cup-less inductees like Dino Ciccarelli or, of course, Mats Sundin there’s not much of a case against him.

Alfie may not have the scoring prowess of Dino (608) and Mats (564) but he has a lot of other achievements to balance it out. He won the Calder Trophy and made the All Rookie Team. He’s a 6 time All Star who had over 1200 career points and 100 more in the playoffs. He was the longest serving captain in the league at one point and lead his troops to a President’s Trophy and, yes, for what it’s worth, a Final. He also has an Olympic gold to go along with a trove of other international shit I don’t care about and am not going to bother looking up (it’s my pleasure to serve you, the reader!). He had an amazing career. I think Ciccarelli and Sundin should be in the Hall and am glad they are. I also think Alfie should be in there with them. The Stanley Cup is fuckin harrrrrrrrrrrrrd to win. Not all Hall worthy players get one in their careers. Nothing’s finer to have on your resume going in but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. As Carlos Dickens wrote in A Hot Take of Two Cities, “It was the Marcel Dionne 1,771 points in 1,348 games and no Stanley Cups of times, it was the Alex Kovalev won a Cup in his rookie season because OF FUCKING COURSE he did of times.” Your boy’s the best player in the history of a young franchise. You gotta do it.

Playoff probabilities, 2015, and thinking ‘transition year’

Untitled

Advanced stats at work

Something happened sometime last week: for the first time since the earliest days of the season, Ottawa’s playoff probability fell below 50%. After having spent the better part of the previous two months between 55% and their season-high 79%, this is the dark side of the coin in this coin-flip of of a season.

We’ve taken to calling Ottawa a bubble team for a good long while now, and that’s still fair. When the season is called, I think Ottawa will find itself just on the outside or just on the inside of the playoff picture, right in the creamy, mediocre middle of the league.

But in addition to thinking “bubble,” I’m also starting to think in terms of “transition” – as in, on a scale between a rebuild and true contention, this is the ideal year to add a key player through, say, the draft.

Before the season began, my biggest concern was whether the team would be able to re-sign upcoming UFAs Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacCarthur, Marc Methot, and Jason Spezza. Could we convince them to stay in Ottawa if the team wasn’t poised to compete?

The first two were re-signed after we put something in their drinking water that made them see New York City when they looked at Ottawa; Methot’s situation will come into stark clarity when he likely returns to the lineup tomorrow night and throws out his back; and, as we all know, Spezza retired a Senator and will never play another NHL game because he was born a Sen and he’ll die a Sen.

For better or worse, the Senators have locked up their core players – and on pretty high value deals, at that – so fans can take a breath and relax in that at least the team won’t take a huge step back in the next couple of years. Senators management can turn their attention to complementing and augmenting the team’s core.

With Methot returning and hopefully re-signing, one hopes the result will be the team outperforming more than just Buffalo on the scale of number of shots allowed. Curtis Lazar will be one year closer to the star that Bryan Murray believes he will be. Mika Zibanejad will be cured of the mumps. (He has mumps, right?) Erik Karlsson will still be in his prime, and Robin Lehner may steal a little bit more of the net away from Craig Anderson. This should be a team looking to compete for the Cup in the next 2-4 years, not necessarily right now.

I’m not ready to take Ottawa’s recent 3-6-1 spin as a sign that all hope is lost. Sure, Ottawa’s had to be pesky and have some of the highest save percentages in the league just to get where they are, but there’s still time to right this ship. And if it doesn’t get righted, then that’s okay too.

Come January, if Ottawa isn’t closer to positive on that playoff probability scale, I think it’s time to start thinking draft. There is no scenario in which Ottawa isn’t more fun to watch and a more competitive team with a very good prospect in the fold, and they aren’t going to lose anybody from the lineup as a result of a losing season. Add to that that the cap may not go up as high as some GMs think because of the sinking Canadian dollar, and Ottawa might be in a position to poach some talent the way the Islanders just did.

I want Ottawa to win as much as the next guy. I want to watch playoff hockey come spring. But thinking of this as a transition year makes the whole prospect of missing out a little bit less painful to consider.