Fixing Ottawa’s defence through trade

It’s no secret that Ottawa needs to re-tune its defence. It gives up more shots on net than any team in the league save Buffalo, who are looking historically bad. They’ve been bailed out by incredible goaltending and timely scoring, and will surely be helped out by the return of Marc Methot, but a move on the backend is still worth some irresponsible speculation. Come with us, won’t you, on a journey to the unverifiable and borderline delusional.

What could Ottawa give up?

So, it’s not like Ottawa doesn’t have healthy bodies on the backend. They’re just not terribly good ones, or at least not good as they’re currently being used together. Which is why we’re in the odd position here of suggesting that Ottawa could fix its defence by trading its defencemen, which you would think would either dilute said defence or not get you anything of value back.

…and you might be right, if you said that. The weird thing is, some of these defencemen, in a vacuum of their potential and their ceiling, are pretty valuable.

Jared Cowen is a top ten pick, a big body, and a player who supposedly has all the tools and just hasn’t been able to put it together yet. He could be dominant for…somebody. Ottawa inexplicably started paying him like a top four defencemen before he ever solidified his place in the lineup, so I imagine it’s difficult to move a $3MM+ healthy scratch. But as part of a package, Cowen could have value.

Patrick Wiercioch is another toughie—making $2MM to be a strategically employed puck mover and second-unit powerplay quarterback. Ottawa has given him plenty of time and exposure over the last several games, and he hasn’t looked horrendous, but I also can’t imagine the phone is ringing off the hook for him at this point.

Marc Methot is more interesting. A verifiable top four, maybe even top two guy, with lots of character and experience who seems to be holding out on a new contract for the sake of $300k a year. Ottawa is super sensitive about contract disputes at this point, and are more likely to move a player than lose him for nothing, especially given he’s already missed camp and the first 10% of the season. I could see a team wanting to take a chance on being able to re-sign Methot, and even a nice little market developing for him.

Also, Ottawa has that extra 2015 second round pick from the Spezza deal, in what is supposed to be a deep draft. Murray loves trading second rounders as, to be fair, do we all.

Who could Ottawa target?

Assuming here that Ottawa wants to target a defenceman as opposed to a forward (though I can get behind doing everything in our power to put Brayden Schenn in a Sens uniform), there are a few options out there. These are players on underperforming teams who, like Cowen, Wiercioch, or Methot, might just need a change of scenery. I know I don’t need to say that none of these scenarios are likely, but…there you go.

Dennis Wideman is on an expensive deal—more than $5MM for three more seasons—and at 31 is not getting any younger. But he’d be a serviceable secondary puck mover behind Karlsson, and has looked good in the young season without much to work with in Calgary.

Keith Yandle has been in the rumor mill for what feels like forever. Like Wideman, he’d be a great puck mover, and is better than Wideman for the same price tag and one less year on his deal. His +/- isn’t very impressive, especially on a team playing Tippet’s defensive system and with Mike Smith giving them above league-average goaltending, and Ottawa has a history dealing with Arizona, and Yandle could be a coup. He won’t come cheap, though.

Tyler Myers has been pretty bad for a long time, and is on another long and expensive deal, but he’s still young and has known nothing but a bad Buffalo team during his career. The only reason I really put him here is that Tim Murray is familiar with Sens players and might be able to see beyond the stat line on someone like Cowen. Admittedly, in-division deals are super rare.

Dustin Byfuglien has seemingly been on the trade block forever. (Is Winnipeg still playing him at forward? Does Winnipeg actually hate 50% of the players on their roster?) He’s got great underlying possession numbers, and the wheels seem to have finally come off of the wagon in Winnipeg. If they start moving out some of their core guys, Byfuglien would be a great player to target. Plus he’s fat, which is hilarious, because fat pro athletes are always hilarious.

Brian Campbell apparently wants out of Florida, is a workhorse who plays 25+ minutes a night, and has good underlying numbers. He’s expensive as hell, and Florida might not want to trade within the division, but he played for the 67s, so he automatically goes on this list for reasons that have nothing to do with reality or feasibility.

Tim Gleason was on Ottawa’s radar at the trade deadline a couple of seasons ago, and can probably be pried away for a smaller package. Carolina is having a terrible year already, but with all of their injuries, regressing goaltending, and instability all the way up through management, it might not be that their defence is truly awful. On the other hand, his possession stats are…truly awful.

Let me consult my Matrix boxed set

Ultimately, Ottawa may wish to stand pat, wait for Methot to get back into the lineup, and flip part of their surplus on D for a scoring forward. Or Ottawa’s propensity to give up 36 shots a game might result in them starting to lose games, which is usually what happens, in which case the whole strategy shifts and we start writing posts about prospects. But in the meantime, fire up those speculation machines (AKA the internet) and dare to dream, lovers.

The Ottawa Shot Differential Vs. Blue Columbia Jackets

See what we did there?

See what we did there?

*Looks up from filling Bronson Ave Petro Canada bathroom sink with hot water to warm up pack of Ramen noodles I found*

Huh? Oh! Hello haters.*hides noodles in hat*  I didn’t see you there. Welcome to this web-site.

So I guess you heard about the game tonight huh? And you want me to talk about it..Let me just comb through these post it notes that I’ve been using as napkins (want not waste isn’t!). While I do that,  enjoy today’s HYYYYYYYYYYPE jam:

Sorry I’ll find a song where someone’s a little more fired up next time. Still worth checking out if only for his interesting takes on doing what you love and the importance of having extendos. *invests in company that makes tattoo removal equipment*

So the last game is an interesting example of the thin line the Sens have been walking so far and the season we might be in for. Recap: They gave up a ton of shots, took a bunch of penalties and great goaltending plus solid penalty killing kept the game flatteringly close. An impressive push in the third period almost saw Bobby Ryan net his now trademark late tying goal but here’s the thing: He t’aint gonna be able to do that every time. It’s amazing he’s already done it twice this year but it’s too much to expect on a regular basis.
If he puts that feed from Karlsson in, they probably come away with at least a point. In this case, he comes up short and they lose. I’m not the first to point this out but this is the great risk we are in for with the return of the Penske Sens (Penske: Official Moving Truck of WTYKY, visit Penske.net to book yours today!).
It will be interesting to see how this shakes out over time. The Sens losing 2-1 on the end of a back to back on the road to a team as good as Chicago? I can deal with that. Losing at home to average at best New Jersey who were themselves on a back to back playing their backup goaltender in a game that the Sens should have been fired up as FUCK to play? That smells a little too much like last year’s inability to get up for very winnable games to make me comfortable. Ottawa has struggled to put up the points to put teams away lately and I present to you a big reason why…

Will the real Michael Zibanejad please stand up score points.
For a guy who’s played in every game so far this season, my G’s stat line is looking similar to a few dudes who get scratched regularly…or, you know, worse. I wrote in the off season how I think to expect in one season for Zibanejad to jump from a 33 point promising young player to 50+ point solid second line stud is a bit much. Now, notice in the bold print I said points not even goals necessarily. To shuffler extraordinaire Paul MacLean’s credit, he’s been giving Mika steady time on the second line. Yes, Mika’s had the tough task of a lot of defensive zone starts (43% or 43.2% if you want to be a dick about it) but approaching the 10 game mark? I was expecting an assist or two. He’s played the majority of his games with Bobby Ryan and Alex Chiasson. So for their combined 8 points Mika doesn’t even have so much as a secondary helper?
*Mark Borowiecki puts on his Mr. Assisty Assist 2014-15 sash*
No bigs right? After all, as the greatish Alex Kovalev once said, “Comes ze shootingz, comes Z goals.” Well perhaps most concerning of all is Mika’s lack of shots. He currently has 7 in 7 games and 0 in his last 2. That’s good for 13th on the team behind snipers like Chris Phillips and Zack Smith.

“But James, sometimes Zibanejazz is all about listening for the shots he’s NOT taking.”
- Michael Jordan, Gambler, Probably Bad Father, Rayovac Renewal Rechargable Batteries Pitchman.

Shut the fuck up, Mike Jordans. For the amount of ice time he’s been getting and quality of players he’s been skating with, not to mention power play opportunity he’s had, 0 points and 7 shots is pretty unacceptable. He’s been doing well at the face off dot but goddamn if crappy old garbage me expects more from a second line centre, I’d imagine the coach does as well. What I’m worried most about here is that if this continues, it could lead to a confidence destroying trip to the pressbox. Seems crazy but if you think MacLeezy wont something tells me the coach wishes a motherfucker would. Remember they sent him to Binghamton just one year ago.
In all, I think Zibs can erase this panic pretty quickly by getting a few pucks on net because as a fan of his, I would say his greatest attribute is his shot. Homie can get the puck off his stick in a hurry. Channel your inner Lazar, Mika. Yeah that’s right I went there. So Pretty please with sugar on top…take some shots, score some goals or else the coach could get psychedelic with your ice time and no one wants less stability in this lineup. And…

This is the part where I talk about Jarrod Cowens
Aight. It’s already challenging as a fan to be patient with this whole new world/new exciting point of view that is the musical chairs of who gets scratched and who plays.
Sarcastic Aside: This is BELOVED by people who try to write game previews in a timely fashion!
The bad news for the foreseeable future is that four of the most frequent healthy scratches, Cowen, Wiercioch, Greening and Erik Condra make a combined $9, 000, 000.00 or to put it in yeoman’s terms, roughly 16% of the team’s overall  payroll. You can just simply throw “Best Players Play” out the window until scientists find a cure for whatever Marc Methot died of.
With the exception of maybe Condra’s $1.25 million, sitting these guys hasn’t exactly been putting Joe Corvo and his $900K in the pressbox indefinitely. Just to add some “fun” irony, the relatively cheap Condra has been the best off the bench performer of these four guys. Cowen who’s been sat the most makes the most too at 3.1 million. Couple in the fact that he’s still in that “Be patient, maybe he just needs a wake up call” phase of his career you can expect to see him more as the season goes on regardless of how he plays. Pains us all, probably MacLean most of all, but with an owner as spend averse as Melnyk, a player who makes that much is going to get some games. So here we are, this is one of them. You can probably thank the Sens hot start for giving MacLean enough wiggle room to sit Cowen as much as he has up to this point. Two losses in a row and here he comes. Perhaps most disappointing in this whole affair is that Patrick Wiercioch has not exactly made the strongest case to permanently bump him from the line up. A pretty big opportunity blown. Why have one disappointing young defender who’s failing to live up to what they were projected to be when you can have two?
At any rate, Cowen has been bad so far but I’d like to think he’s still capable of A good game. Is that crazy to ask? ONE good game from a guy who has over 150 under his belt? Columbus is playing the notoriously tough first game back home after a West Coast road trip. They’ve lost two straight and are playing their 4th game in 6 nights. Catch a sleepy Columbus forward in the trolley tracks. HACK THE BONE JERRY COWEN. Make a couple of nice passes or something. Just help make us all be less mad at you.

Lehner’d Skyn…nyrd….whatever, thanks for reading.
Coming off an extremely strong outing where Anderson graciously allowed only 2 goals on 45 shots (an insane 34 in the first 2 periods alone) Craig will get the night off. Incredible Hulk protégé Robin Lehner gets the start (a-doi). With the upcoming schedule busy as it is (HEYYYYYY would you look at that Ottawa gets to play Chicago AGAIN later this week #blessed), it’s good to be able to rest your starter and have another good goaltender play in their stead. ISN’T THAT RIGHT TEAMS WHO’VE BEEN PLAYING THEIR BACKUPS AGAINST US AND WINNING? Dare 2 Dreeme.
Ugh.
Anyway, I don’t have much negative to say about Lehner’s play so far this season. I think Anderson’s been far more positionally sound but you can’t teach Lehner’s brand of Highlander jazz.
The Lehner has given the team just as much of a chance to win as Anderson. To his credit, Lehner doesn’t even have one of those 3 goals on 6 shots in the first period nightmares like Andy does, so that’s nice(?).
I know it’s their team identity, and this is going to sound cray-zay, but to me, the big key to victory is for the team in front of the goalie to actually show up and play some defense in the second period.  Yes, I’m being unreasonable but in Lehner’s last start, New Jersey was limited to 7 shots in the first. Period ends, zero goals against. In the second, NJ’s shot count doubled to 14. The result? 2 goals, a lead going into the 3rd  and a serious momentum shift in the game  caused by bad babysitting which all ties into that whole thing about we can’t expect Ryan to tie things up with the saving of the bacon game after game.

Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovski was added to Columbus’ already hefty injured reserve list today. Fresh off the IR himself, Curtis McElhinney gets the start for the Jean Jackets. I’m not actually counting this as much of an opportunity as our beloved Sens have been unable to take advantage of this type of thing in a couple of recent games. Need to stop making backups and third stringers (ahhhh my liiiife) look good.

Lastly, a get well soon to Nick Foligno who was injured on a very scary collision in LA two nights ago. Glad it wasn’t more serious. We’re sending our healing vibewaves to you, homie. Here’s to making a full recovery, Nicky.

K, enjoy the game, eat your fries, eat em.

Weekend Grab Bag: Getting Back to a Place where Hockey is a Thing

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Obviously it’s been a surreal week in Ottawa, and not one I’m going to spend any time on this hockey blog pontificating about. Let’s repress with the best of them and take a look at our Sens, and around the league a lil’ bit, as we come up on the 10% mark of the NHL season.

All prayers are dedicated to the health of Erik Karlsson and our goaltenders, for without them we are but dust

We’re only seven games in, but the new Sens look an awful lot like the old Sens. Which is to say, they allow a butt-load of shots, have terrible possession stats, and it’s only by the grace of our outstanding goaltenders and Erik Karlsson playing in all situations and 30 minutes a game that Ottawa is anywhere near contention. According to that link we’re only outperforming Calgary and Buffalo who, according to this Swiss Chalet wet-nap I consult on all NHL related questions, are terrible teams barely disguising their desire to tank.

Interesting to see MacLean dip into his coin satchel of psychedelic line combinations already. Mark Stone sits last night against Chicago? Sure, why not. Cowen is now officially in Siberia? Works for me. Erik Karlsson with Patrick Wiercioch, no wait, Chris Phillips? Ulp. The only constant, it seems, is Chris Neil on that second unit power-play, which I’ve just come to accept at this point the way I’ve come to accept that a Conservative majority government will force anti-democratic measures through Parliament by way of omnibus bills. Give me the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other.

Happy to see our one legitimate scoring line of MacArthur – Turris – Ryan reunited and looking consistently dangerous. But outside of those golden three, we’re just going to have to summon all good thoughts and all of the hosts of hoggoth that Robin Lehner (.944%) and Craig Anderson (.936%) can keep up this play / stay healthy / not go insane under a constant barrage. Only in the NHL would this count as a game plan.

Let’s lookit the schedule. Dammit shouldna done that.

Ottawa’s a respectable 4-2-1, and it’s only because everyone else in their division has also been putting together respectable records and have been playing more games that they aren’t in a better position in the standings. But this next little while is going to get turbulent.

This week they’ve got a beaten up Columbus, who are co-opting our “secretly not very good / pesky!” approach to hockey. They are eminently beatable, but this will likely come down to a one goal game either way. Then they play Chicago again, who looked lazy last night and played a goaltender who’d never played an NHL game before and still won. Then there’s Boston, who Ottawa are contractually obligated to lose every game to, then Detroit and Minnesota – both very respectable, veteran-laden teams. If Ottawa can’t steal some points from the Winnipegs, Torontos, Edmontons and Calgarys to follow, then they’re going to be in a tough spot come the end of November when the fan base yells “I hate you!” and runs into its room, slamming the door behind it.

Jason Spezza is still Jason Spezza

Let’s check in on the One Who Got Away. No, not Alfie. No, not Heatley. Nope, not Chara. I mean Jason Spezza! (*waits for laughter to subside*) I mean, we all agreed he would go to Dallas, play on a line with Ales Hemsky, and be an absolute beast for them, right?

Well, yes and no. On the one hand, he’s got 11 points in 8 games which, according to the wet nap, is extremely good. He’s also a -5, which is the Spezzaist-Spezza-to-ever-Spezza.

How about Hemsky? Not to be outdone, he’s also a -5…except he only has one assist in those same 8 games. Did anybody watch that 7-5 loss to the Islanders the other night? Holy hell, that is some premier OHL hockey if I ever saw it. We were right that Dallas is going to be entertaining to watch this year. We were wrong that they were going to be very good. Anyway, looks like we might have dodged a bullet on Hemsky, even with our totally insulting low-ball offer we never really expected him to accept.

I told you Tampa would suck

Speaking of not being as good as everyone assumed they’d be, Tampa Bay, despite spending more money than God spent when she created the NHL, is 5-3-1 with some very embarrassing losses in there. They lost to Edmonton and Ottawa. Needed OT to beat Florida and Calgary. Were destroyed by Minnesota. Ben Bishop is a decent .918%, but hasn’t been a world-beater.

I’ll keep saying it – you don’t finish third last in the league, lose Martin St. Louis, get swept in the first round, and then become a contender. It doesn’t happen in that order. You gotta take some steps in between. Watch for Stevie Y to spend even more money this off-season on whichever defenceman becomes available.

Go Preds!

My second favorite team and the little engine that could keeps right on trucking in the toughest division in all of hockey. They’re amazing, and, perhaps for the first time in franchise history, also watchable!

I have nothing novel to say here, other than Go Preds! which I guess is pretty novel after all.

Senators/Avalanche Game Summary in Drawing Form: Home Opener Edition

HOME OPENER, MOTHERFUCKERS, LET’S RECAP THIS SHIT. Not the first part tho-a huge “no thanks” to that

First Period:
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Second Period:
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Third Period:
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Extra:

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Bonus extra:

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Note: no one actually played a keytar on the ice. That’s ridiculous. That’s something that only happens in the sanctity of the dressing room

James Day Preview: Ottawa Vengaboys host the Colorado City Snow Hurricanes

Whaaat is the deal with my compete level of late!?

Whaaat is the deal with my compete level of late!?

First, let’s get HYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYPED: 

(seriously unlistenable after like 1 minute…and I LOVE terrible music)


Recap Re: Crap
Kind of a crazy terrible looking game against the city of  Florida. Thrilled to get the win but man that was a character building experience to sit through. Look, I know I’m coming in hotroversial here but I really think the arena crew down in Sunwater, Florida could stand to cut back to at least half the sand they are using in their slush/sand/ice mixture. The ice was pretty bad in Tampa too as evidenced by Steven Stojko losing the puck on his shootout attempt (salut les hateurs!).
I am very excited to watch the Senators play ON GOOD CANADIAN ICE (thumbs up) and complete more than four or five passes during the course of the game praise be to Jah, Lion of Judah for he makes all things possible *Takes huge hit of eucalyptus flavoured chemical mist from Vapegun™*

Phillips still in the game like Jack Lalanne (that’s an old guy, I know, it’s a terrific reference! Gracias quatro el reading!)
I’m just as concerned as the next “Joe Water Bottle Full of Silent Sam Vodka in My Desk Drawer at Work” about Chris Phillips getting over 25 minutes a night. Not only is it unsustainable but there should be I don’t know…SEVERAL guys who should be getting this assignment ahead of him but you know what? He’s looked great the past couple of games. He looks like the Phillips who just a handful of years ago you’d put out to neutralize players like Alex Ovechkin and could actually handle that assignment. Get well soon Marc Methot but pretty crazy that Phillips has been able to step in during this time of need. He will be in for quite a test against the speedy Avalanches but remember one thing my G…just pass it to Karlsson and if Karlsson’s not open, pass it to him anyway and Karlsson will figure it out…with his miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiindlegs. I’m just kidding around Phillips doesn’t need to be told that. He would never try to carry the puck for more than 3 feet. Seriously, have fun watching for this tonight. It’s a game within the game (within the game within the game).

T’aint Misbehavin’
I know I’m jinxing this but Chris Neil has ZERO penalty minutes in three games. I gotta take my hat off to the guy. If the Sens are going to improve this year, staying out of the box is going to be right up there with the need for otherworldly goaltending and I think the former greatly helps to allow for the latter. Ottawa’s goaltending wasn’t stellar last season and it certainly didn’t  do Craiger and Robbie (peep the super duper casual first name basis) any favors that they had one less person helping them out constantly and often (that’s right C&O).
Don’t get it twisted, I still think Neil has some serrrrious flaws with his game that are worsening with age but, hey, I can get into Chris Neil keeping his nose clean. My expectations DONE been managed considering he once racked up a team-helping 144 PIMs in just 48 games the year of the lockout. Whatever fuck. The point is last year Chris Neil had his highest penalty minute total since his rookie season which HEYYYYYYYYYYYY was over a decade ago. You cant teach singlehandedly putting your team on the PK for an average of almost 3 minutes per game, that’s why they give you a letter. This ain’t fahntasy hockey. PIMs don’t help. Penalties happen, they’re always going to happen but on a team with as delicate a structure for success as this one you gotta avoid them. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ white boy.

Wow, props to Christophers Phillips and Neil. Bizzarro season in full effect.

Craig Anderson gets the start in net. That’s right I’m saying it. I will no longer be a slave to the tyranny of Paul MacLean announcing the starting goaltender during the national anthem. I’m calling it. Babygirl has been the starter for years now and is coming off a shutout win. It’s gunna be Andy in goal tonight for the home opener and you know what– What’s that? The Coach announced that Anderson is the starter hours ago? Well looks like I was right. Hmph.

Craig will square off against Sam Varlamov who’s allowed 10 goals in 3 games to start the season so maybe Anderson will face him and Reto Berra. Reto Berra is definitely a player that we’ve both heard of. Also, the name Reto. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetooooooooo.

Light a Mupdate (3:41pm): Varlarlmalarlov is a James Time decision. He hurt his dumb groin being stupid (probably)

Anything else about the Avalanche? They are a perfect 0% on the power play.

OH NO Greening and Cowen are healthy scratches! What are we supposed to complain about?
Oh good, Mike Hoffman is scratched too. That was close. Resume complaining but complain amongst yourselves if you don’t like it because I think it’s the right move. With over 600 players currently on the roster we are going to see dozens of people sit night in and night out. I thought Condra looked great against the Panthers.. He looked more dangerous than Hoffman did in the previous two games. Don’t hate Hoffy’s game or anything but Condra was a presence in his shot and I’m glad to see him rewarded for a strong game.
Courteous Lazar draws in to the line up on hat trick I MEAN hat trick I mean….managed expecthattricks.

Should be an exciting game as neither team plays defence.  Enjoy!

Don’t forget to tag all of your tweets Sens related or otherwise #DANGERFLUTES Not part of DANGERFLUTENATION but want to joint the movement? Learn more here.

Road Trip Takeaways

Hey, lookit that: Ottawa returns from the road-trip with a respectable 2-1 record, and despite what the dour 13 minutes I spent with Sens fans on Twitter might imply, that’s a pleasant surprise and a positive thing.

I think it’s fair to say that people were expecting a win in Florida, a loss in Tampa, and for Nashville to be a toss-up. That Ottawa came out with a win in Tampa and a (close) loss in Nashville perhaps bodes well. Though you could say their horrid game in Florida cancels it out.

Yadda yadda it’s only three games and so on. Having said that, here are a few things that occurred to me over the course of those three games, and maybe some things to watch for in the home opener:

1) Same old same old

The summary, for those who like to digest hockey in Wikipedia-sized chunks, is that Ottawa was massively outshot and bailed out by brilliant goaltending. This seemed to be the source of Twitter’s achy tummy, and more than a few panicky blog posts, and I guess I can see why. It was the team’s downfall last year, and anyone hoping that MacLean would implement a strategic shift to suddenly turn a rag-tag team of misfits into a defensively responsible contender is probably right to be a little worried. After last night’s putrid game against Florida, MacLean said he was satisfied with their complete, all-team approach, which is confusing. (But I guess what is he gonna say?)

Ottawa had two good periods against Tampa and sort of stunk in the last game of a road trip in front of about 27 people. Let’s wait and see how they play at home on Thursday before we start to mark out trends on the white board.

2) The small story is different from the large story, and it’s not an old school v. analytics thing

Ottawa lost 3-2 to Nashville, but gave up one of those goals after a terrible call on Cowen and saw Chiasson nearly tying the game up with a shot off the post in the dying minutes. This game was closer than it seemed. Against Tampa, MacArthur had about three amazing chances in close, and they might have walked away with that game 4-2 instead of a SO win. The Florida game was a bit weird, what with playing in front of nobody and how every powerplay got cancelled out by another shortly after, but both teams had good looks.

My takeaway here is that even though the Sens are getting outshot, maybe the quality of their scoring chances is making up for it? Which is to say this isn’t a matter of discarding the analytics, but a matter of refining them. Someone better than I will surely put up a shot chart / heat map thing soon and we’ll know more.

3) This is still a lineup in flux

Which is totally to be expected with so many young players in the mix. Lazar, Hoffman and Cowen were scratched last night in favor of Condra, Greening and Wiercioch, and there didn’t seem to be much difference on the shot differential. But let’s give the boys some time to settle down before we blame the system. You usually have one player coming out, one in; switching around huge segments of the team early on means there’s lots of room for improvement. As MacLean said last year, it’s only after several games that “you are what you are.” We’re nowhere near that point yet.

4) The Cowen honeymoon is over

Thank god. It took dozens of catastrophic brain farts for Cowen to see the press box last year. This year it took two games. Last night’s TSN panel was actually talking about his trade value. That seems premature, but it’s good to see that he doesn’t have such a long leash anymore. How long before we see Freddy Claesson get a couple of games?

5) Clarke MacArthur is going to have a good season

Based on his goal against Florida and the sort of unbelievable number of chances he had against Tampa, his chemistry with Turris and Karlsson last season wasn’t a fluke. He goes to the net and they know where to find him. When he starts getting the bounces and his shooting percentage looks more like league average, he’s going to start putting up some serious points. He could have left this road trip with 3-4 goals.

6) Watching the TSN broadcasts is weird

I don’t know if this was Jamie Maclennan’s first time doing color, but he was all over the map when he wasn’t saying forehead-smackingly obvious stuff like how two mistakes is worse than one mistake. Also, it’s going t take some getting used to seeing Bruce Garrioch being interviewed during intermissions. But for the most part it was interesting seeing James Duthie, Aaron Ward and Bob MacKenzie try to conduct and interesting (and interested) panel discussion on an early season Panthers-Senators game that ended 1-0.