James Day Preview: Ottawa hosts the Nastville Prediturds

JDP MR.T Edition

Hi there.

Well, it’s been an emotional little week hasn’t it?
To start, the boys unexpectedly took the Heritage Classic in Vancouver. Yep, victorious in a highly anticipated afternoon road game broadcast on CBC. Also unexpected: Ottawa having nicer uniforms than their opposition! I, myself, picked one up. I’m sorry but when felt numbers come callin’ you GOTTA accept the charges!
Then Ottawa got lit up by Ales Hemsky in Edmonton. Then they acquired Ales Hemsky. Then they got lit up by Calgary. THEN Hemsky lit it up against Winnipeg.
Wow, lots of stuff got lit up, yet here I am distancing myself from mup jokes.
The atmosphere surrounding the team following that embarrassing game against the Flames was maybe the most morose it’s been all season but at least the team managed a .500 record for the week in the end. Come…move forward with me! *shooting star* 

Tonight they face a Nashville team who are all but out of the running in last place in the mighty Central Division and riding a 4 game losing streak. Typically I would advise Ottawa to HACK THE BONE on a vulnerable opponent but taking advantage of opportunities placed before them DOES NOT SEEM TO BE THEIR STRONG SUIT (See: Recent losses to Edmonton and Calgary). Never the less, this, like all of the games for the remainder of the season practically, is a must win thanks to recent complacency (See also: Recent losses to Edmonton and Calgary).

Nashville is playing so horribly right now that I’m almost worried they’re due for a win like Ottawa was against Winnipeg (See also: Recent losses to Edmonton and Calgary). The always offensively tepid Preds have managed 3 goals in in their last 4 games (Spoiler: ALL LOSSES!).Slump breakers that they can be, Ottawa will have to play much better than they did in the 3rd period against the Jets.
I don’t know if it’s a deliberate strategy thing but I’ve noticed that when Ottawa has a 3rd period lead on the road MacLean appears to make the team hang back and trap up to protect their lead. The only thing is, is if this is the case, they don’t appear to be very good at it! I mean, they still won the game but that’s a more stressful 3rd period than you want to see; even if up by two.
Anderson really saved their bacon as the Jets piled on the dangerous attempts putting up 49 shots. You’re not going to get away with that very often but great to see Andy get in the zone and lock down a win for the club. Something you think he wouldn’t have to do when the Sens have scored 5 goals.
With Nashville’s 2nd highest goalscorer in Mike Fisher and his 16 tallies on the year (Pfft, who is this guy? Jazon Spessa?), hopefully, Nashville will carry on having difficulty putting points on the board tonight.
It wont be easy for the Senators to run up the score either as they will face a delicious bowl of Pekka Rinne (served with complimentary unlimited salad and the Olive Garden’s signature bread sticks). Since returning from a serious medical scare, despite being winless in his last two starts, Rinne has been terrifyingly good posting a .948 save percentage and a 1.53 goals against average. Imagine this team could score? Yowzer.
Anderson will get the start for Ottawa because Lehner has been blacklisted or something.
For serious, 4 games last week, all on the road, including a back to back and zero starts. I don’t even know when he’ll get his next shot. Put on a pot of pig’s blood its gunna be a long night for Lehnny.

One thing Ottawa will have to do tonight is be disciplined as Nashville has a surprisingly strong power play for a defensive minded team. Life hack: Have Shea Weber on the point.
9 of his 15 goals have been with a man advantage. His Olympic performance fresh on my mind, I sincerely hope that zero players I like will try to block his shots.
So let’s go out there and play some good clean hockey, think you can handle that boys?
*Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Eric Gryba, Jared Cowen and Matt Kassian all unison* “YESSSSSS JAAAAAAAAAAAAMES”

Now this:
Get well Clarke MacArthur Get well soon we wish you to get welllllllllllllllllllllll! 
You never want to see a guy who I describe as “a perfect hockey player” go down with an injury and miss any time. Luckily for the Sens, Mike Hoffman filled in and had a huge game against the Jets on Saturday, scoring his first NHL goal but also registering just an unreal Ovechkin style assist on Platinum Angel Kyle Turris’ glorious 21st goal of the year.
Platinum Angel Fun Fact: Turris is currently on pace to score more goals this year than he has put up total since being traded here in late 2011. The kid’s really found a groove here.

Cool so… 
Ales Hemsky has as many assists in 2 games as Peter Regin did LAST SEASON for Ottawa. That’s even after having credit for one of them taken away after Saturday’s game. Regardless of how this whole Hemsky thing shakes out it will be entertaining to have an actual top 6 player playing in our top 6 for at least the balance of the season. Couldn’t ask for more of him in his last game let’s hope he can build on it.

Game Note: Cowen and Gryba scored last game. If that’s not getting a roll going I don’t know what is.

Huge two points up for grabs. Go Sens….

James Day Preview: Ottawa visits the perfectly named Calgary Flames

I am a new tie wearing.

Hi everyone,

It was the Hemsky of times it was the Phillips re-signing of times.
Well, we’ve had lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fun with this trade deadline bologna and here we are. One Ales Hemsky richer and one Phillips…here-er…for two more friggin years-er.
Well, it’s been tough focusing on tonight’s game what with the whole “not knowing what the teams are going to look like” thing surrounding it. Very crafty PR move by the Senators to have the Trade Deadline be today in order to distract from BEING SWEPT IN THE FUCKING SEASON SERIES AGAINST THE EDMONTON OILERS RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! Karma from sweeping the Blues? Anyway, surely Ottawa can beat the frigging Calgary Flambés tonight, right? I don’t know anything about anything anymore. Speaking of which…

This is the part where I talk about Ales Hemsky!
So, welcome, Ales Hemsky. Ima come clean, like Bobby Ryan before him, this is a trade that Ottawa’s been rumored to be in on for a minute that I’ve been hoping would get done. I think they got him super cheap too. It’s admittedly pretty fucked up that the Sens playoff chances are super slim after last night’s disappointing loss so the decisi–
OOH! A telegraph came in, its from…why, it’s from YOU!

James <stop>
Hemsky’s a UFA at the end of the season <stop>
If Ottawa doesn’t make the post-season, what’s to be gained by this? <stop>
Need your optimistic guidance, Boo <stop>

Page me sometime. <stop>

*10 minutes pass with me in The Thinker position* 
Okay, I thought of something!
Entertainment value. *Everyone quietly closes their browser window* Hey, even if duder is just a rental (LIKELY!!) at least we’ll have a winger playing with Spezza who’s trying to earn his next contract. With no 1st round pick this year, might as well play spoiler for the rest of the season. Who knows, maybe he’s a great fit and we re-sign him.
Anyway, if the Sens don’t make the playoffs it’s not like I’m going to stop going to games (FINICKY!!!) so I’ll be happy to watch this top six for the rest of the season:
MacArthur – Turris – Ryan
Michalek – Spezza – Hemsky.

Here’s the part where I talk about Chris Phillips.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you that not only would Big Rig not be traded but he’d be re-signed for more than one year – my assholish column here 

Okay that’s sorted.
Craig Anderson gets the start in goal for the second straight game. I mean it’s worked in the past right? What’s that? Hasn’t worked for Andy or Lehner? Hm’kaiihee.
You know Lehner has looked bad when he can’t even get a start in the second game in a back to back against the Flames after the other guy just lost to the Oilers. YEEEEEAAAAASH. THIS SEAAASON HAS BEEN FRUSTRATING.
Joni Orito *shrug* will get the call in net for Calgary. It is his 2nd NHL game, his first being a 2-0 loss to LA.  I shouldn’t feel as nervous as I do, slump breakers that we are.

Obviously the big story tonight is getting to see Spezza play with a quality winger. No disrespect Colin Greening *laugh track* …until something goes wrong and Paul MacLean moves Hemsky down to Smith and puts Neiler back where he belongs, with a cerebral playmaker like Spezz.
Seriously though, I’m really excited. Hemsky’s a bit of a confusing move because of his UFA status at the end of the season but we’ve each and every last one of us wanted to see an improved top 6 and for at least for a minute we’ve got one.
Hemsky will get no more than a pre-game skate to adjust to his new centre so expectations are WELL managed but at least he knows Michalek from Czechoslovakia (source Wickedpedia.biz). Really looking forward to it.
Here’s hoping that MacArthur – Turris – Ryan are kept together tonight because I LOVE when the Sens win games.
Calgary will have a couple of newbies in the mix tonight calling up Corban Knight and Max Reinhart from the AHL. Yep that’s what’s new with Calgary on trade deadline day because they didn’t move Mike Cammalleri, Chris Butler or Lee Stempniak because rebuild. Bryan Murray had better watch out because Burkie will be WELL RESTED tonight.

Hmmmmm what elllllllllllllllllllllllllllllse?
Oh yeah Erik Karlsson came ever closer to uh…my goal of scoring 20 goals on the season with his 17th last night. He’s on pace for 22 and as I mentioned earlier Joni Orito is starting so…
Hey, want to know something else neat about EK? Okay, well, he’s got 19 points in his last 19 games because he’s fucking incredible.

Enjoy the game and GO ALES AND THE SENSKYS!

James Day Preview: Ottawa Hosts the Detroit Feelings

Everybody's hatin' on me, I can't hear the garb they're sayin' onlyyyyyy the echo's of "U mad bro?"

Everybody’s hatin’ on me, I can’t hear the garb they’re sayin’ onlyyyyyy the echo’s of “U mad bro?”

Hey there! Thank you for remembering that this website exists!

Well, we had lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fun during the Olympic break. Medals were won, Dufour-Lapointes were crushed on, Sochis were …not blown up. A complete…Winter Olympics were had you could say.
Congratulations to Erik Karlsson on his silver medal and his unbelievable performance leading the tournament in points and to Milan Michalek for his participation ribbon and for not getting injured. Not even once! Welcome back.

 The Hoff Man Commeth (I know…but…whatever I haven’t done this in a while)
The phrase “Coming in Hot” doesn’t get thrown around all that often [except for when it’s thrown around at every opportunity] but you can’t ask for a call up to arrive in the capital more “middle goo of a Pizza Pop” hot than Mike Hoffman. His 67 points in 51 games in Binghamton is simply astounding. Good for 2nd in the entire American Hockey League and only 4 back of the overall lead.
Hoffman has had a couple of chances with the big club but more or less in a checking role (Life Hack: Give your players that weigh 176 pounds checking roles!). At first a lot of reaction I heard to  Hoffman’s games with Ottawa was that he looked “really good despite not getting on the score sheet.” This has changed to mostly a “this guy’s gotta get on the score sheet” feel. Not a wrong position considering Hoff’s in a contract year and though not old at 24, his development time is likely starting to run out with the organization. He’s got to show and prove and that time is now.
In fairness, however, showing off your offensive skills can be pretty tough to do when you’re getting about 8 minutes a game, even tougher when you get healthy scratched!
Pointless in a mere 7 career NHL games, the pressure is on for Hoffy to make an impact right quick following impressive auditions from fellow forwards Mark Stone and Stephane DaCosta. I mean, shit, even shutdown defender Mark Borowiecki notched a goal in his 13 game stint.
Now, it seems a little much to expect given that the guy’s only had 3 games to prove himself so far this season but this is the reality of a farm with more beasts on it than…*thinks of a farm renowned for its dense population of beasts, gives up*.
Hoffman was a goal scorer in the QMJHL once winning league MVP, he is enjoying an all star campaign in his 4th year in Binghamton (winning fastest skater at the all star game!) and now he’s got to show he can do it on the highest stage. This time around it looks like coach MacLean might give him the boost he needs.

The Hoff will start the game on a line with Bobby Ryan, centred by Mika Zibanejad (or Za-bin-a-jad if you’re an out of market play by play person). I suppose Hoffman’s opportunity on this line will depend not only his performance but the whole team’s. If the Sens come out looking like a bunch of ugmos things could go back to “normal” pretty quickly. Considering we’re 60 games into the season and the coach has been more gun shy about playing Bobby Ryan with Jason Spezza than he has Erik Condra if the money ain’t right, it’ll be back to the top line for BR. There’s something enticing about this line on paper. Hoffman has great speed, Ryan’s got smarts and brawn and Ziba’s got speed, smarts and brawn! Not so enticing is that despite just getting two weeks off Ryan has missed a couple of practices due to an disclosed nagging injury he suffered before the Olympic break…so that’s…umm…Get well get well soon we wish you to get well. *wink, tear*
Sniper Erik Condra moves to the top line (?) while Spezza will anchor a trio with Greening and Michalek.

Return To The King
Oh what’s that? Mike Babcock intends to employ with Detroit the strategy he used with Team Canada to smother the opposition’s defense? Good LUCK trying that …against….our…guys.

Marc Methot moves back up to the top pairing with King of Sweden Erik Karlsson. I am pretty happy to see this pair reunited as I’ve found their chemistry to be better than EK and Jared Cowen’s (doi). Methot brings the same physical and responsible dimension as Cowen except that he’s more experienced OH and is much, much…MUCH faster (much). Cowzie (have to assume he’s called that in the dressing room, well, that or Giant Seinfeld) will line up with Eric Gryba. That Gryba-Methot duo was pretty good. I never thought I’d say this a couple years back but I hope Grybs can float Cowen through the game. What a world.
Lastly, Ceci will be paired with a now healthy Chris Phillips. Joe Corvo will be providing anti-depressants for himself and Patrick Wiercioch in the press box.

Remember that sic snipe Gryba had against Detroit back when he was beardless?!

Looks like someone didn’t take two weeks off of making Blood Sacrifices!
Robin Lehner’s fortnight of incantations has paid off as Mani the Norse Moon Goddess has made it her bidding to see that the birth of Craig Anderson’s second child has coincided with the first game back.
Note to Craig: Mazel tov, a second child will be a blessing upon your house!
With the call up of Binghamton goaltender Andrew Hammond to back up The Lehner we shift the “PLEASE DONT GET HURT” feelings/wishes/prayers we directed at Karlsson over in Sochi to Lehner. Go out there and have fun and do some extra stretches and be careful! Would love to see Lehnny get some help to improve his 7-10-3 record. He’s played much better than that and with time running out on the season it would be a shame to see him finish with a losing record…that and it would mean more Sens wins…which is also pretty important.

With Daniel Alfredsson’s Red Wings (…………………………….f…………………) having played last night in Montreal I would regularly say Ottawa has an opportunity to take advantage of playing a good but fatigued team that’s battling injury but this season it has been next to impossible to predict how they are going to play, well, accept in the afternoon! Truth be told, Detroit has had a chance to shake the rust off once and Ottawa’s going to have to come out clean and swinging. Let’s hope those new line combos are good ones.

Enjoy the game, thanks for reading, it’s great to be back, pray 4 Hoffman.

GO SENS (obviously)! 

Scotchcast Episode 4 Part 2: Bigger and Scotchier

The exciting conclusion of the now LEGENDARY* Sochicast is here!
In this half, Varada and James shift gears and let’s be real, pretty drunkenly, share their EXPERT opinions on what Bryan Murray should do or not do with the Ottawa Senators at the upcoming trade deadline. They also answer hard hitting questions from you, the listener, in everybody’s favourite** segment, Talk to the Audience (formerly Dear Dearest Love). ENJOY!

*Least popular episode as of the time of this writing
**Ehhhhh..*tugs collar*

Scotchcast Episode 4 Part 1: The Sochicast


James and Varada return uninvited to your minidisc player OR WHO KNOWS WHAT PERSONAL LISTENING DEVICE in part 1 of a 2 part series. They share what they think are their authoritative views on Canada’s all-men Olympic hockey squadron.
Enjoy and stay tuned for part 2. Well, that is if I somehow manage to avoid suffering a complete mental collapse while trying to sort out the mysterious technical issues that are currently stopping the MUCH ANTICIPATED part 2 from working…maybe it will never work…at this point I’m not sure. I actually woke up at 4:30am because I couldn’t sleep because it’s bothering me so much (not joking!). Anyway, it’s now 6:30am and I managed to get part 1 to work. What I’m saying here is, I’m having a great day! Anyway, don’t you worry about any of that. What’s important is that you enjoy part one while I go cry in the dark, fully clothed under an ice cold shower.

James Day Preview: Ottawa hosts the Bologna Swords

Les haters jusque la gauche, SVP!

Les hateurs jusque la gauche, SVP!

What up tho?


So let’s get right down to it. Our playoff bubble team (flattering!) plays back to back road games against Stenchburgh and St. Louis…3 of 4 points collected. Naturally. Called it. You can read more about these games in my upcoming book “WHY I DO NOT BET MONEY ON HOCKEY: One Special Little Girl’s Journey
Welp, Buffalo played last night, got thumped by the Pens and are playing in our building so…logic says Ottawa will lose 4-1, all goals scored in the first period? Lone goal for Ottawa a puck bouncing off of Cory Conacher’s neck to cut the deficit to 3?
I don’t really know if I’m kidding. I’ve spent much of my valuable time [Ed Note: Since when, guy who writes about hockey to nobody for free?] writing (flattering!) about how hard it is to get a read on how the Senators are going to perform game to game.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that they seem to bring an extra gear to their games against the best teams in the league because if they make the playoffs they’re definitely going to have to play one of the best team’s in the East. But they have dropped some of their most slam dunk games of the year, which has REALLY hurt them and put them in the must win position they now find themselves in.
This will be an interesting game to see if Ottawa can finally HACK THE BONE when it comes to taking advantage of opportunities to move up the standings. Standings that have thus far not been friendly to them but not like the Sens didn’t get themselves in this spot. Also, who told Carolina (not the name of a US state) that they could even be in the conversation?

Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Turns Out Erik Karlsson Is Amazing At hockey! 
I declare tonight to be the beginning of the march to a new milestone.
WTYKY Presents Erik Karlsson: Road To The Twenty Goals Classic.
Who’s comin’ with me?
He got ever so close to the plateau in his Norris winning campaign of 2011-2012 with 19. He is shooting so much this year (a team high 177) I think he can do it. 25 games remain for him to put up the 6 goals needed to hit the mark. No small task for a defenseman but we know that our special little guy (SLG) is more than great coats. He has an hilarious 12 points in his last 11 games. Comedy gold, how good this guy is.

Jason Spezza Is Trolling The Post-Game Call In Show At This Point
With the recent cooling off of Clarke MacArthur and Robert Ryan, the captain has crept into 3rd in points on the team. This is the ultimate Spezz troll, even defenders of him like myself were at their wits end so what does he do? puts up three points against one the best teams in the NHL, scores an absolutely huge goal in the game, oh and to top it off FuCkInG pUlls OfF THiiiiIIiiissSssssS:

Spezz Captain and the Whirl of Tomorrow (you may now close down your browser and come find me and kill me).
He did that against the St. Louis Blues, a team coached by Ken Hitchcock, across their entire D zone…and it worked. Hockey. So this week he was the goat of the Stenchburgh game, the hero of the Blues game…tonight…let’s see him be I don’t know…I would settle for a creamy middle like “extremely competent in his role” against the Sabres.
He’ll be playing between the much improved of late Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad OR AS EVERY PLAY BY PLAY GUY CALLS HIM ZA-BIN-A-JAD. It was rumored that Ziba might miss the game thanks to an infection to his hands caused by wearing absolutely filthy mitts in the shootout. The shootout moves, this guy.

DaPpreciation Korner:
Stephane DaCosta deserves a ton of credit for keeping the skills competition alive after Lehner gave up two goals to Oshie and Steen. The Senators sent a pretty big message to SDC by returning Mark Stone to Binghamton today. I didn’t hate his getting called up seeing as DaCosta went back to Bingo and did everything the Sens told him to, but I will admit my stock on him had gotten quite low. I felt like: The kid can definitely complete the bajeezuz (?) out of a pass but…always with the getting rag dolled off the puck.
I think many of us have learned from the Bobby Butler heritage jerseys of the past to be measured in our excitement about call ups but DaCosta has a multi-goal game, the lone goal against the Pens and a huge shootout goal against the Blues and no one can deny that. Of note on his shootout attempt: First at the NHL level…whiiiiiiich was a do or die situation against a guy who just won a Jennings trophy. Im sure MacLean just told him to go out there and HAVE FUN.
Anyway, frere has been very impressive during an important stretch of games. If he can keep it rolling until the Olympic break (is team France in the Olympics? I cant muster enough fucks to look that up) he could very well play the rest of the year with the big club.

On the heels of one of his best performances of the year, Craig Anderson gets the start against former Buffalo Sabre (just warming up for the future) Ryan Miller.
Should be interesting to see how Miller performs tonight. He has been his impressive self despite playing on the Buffalo Sabres. If and when he is dealt, I hope it is in a division far, far away as Ben Bishop has taught us the dangers of good goaltending on teams that otherwise struggle. Rebuild-shmeebuild, I’m looking forward to playing the new look Jhonas Enroth Sabres at least for a bit.
Miiller’s impressive numbers on the season aside, he’s winless in his last two with a goals against average of 6.00 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) including a 5 goal beat down from the Pingus last night. Seeing as this is Buffalo’s final game on a back to back before the Olympic break, let’s hope Ottawa catches Miller day dreaming about Olympic Silver and the sunny shores of some other team.

Puck drop is scheduled for the beginning of the game. GO SENS! 

James Day Preview: Ottawa Visits the St. Louis Smooth Jazz

fill the net

Key to victory: Bobby Ryan has to fill the St. Louis net.

Hi how’s everyone’s Chinese New Year going so far? Great, mine too, mine too. Very new, very Chinese.
We are currently in the middle of celebrating what our friends to the East call The Golden Week…and with four games this week before the Olympic break it’s going to have to be one for Ottawa.
The Senators have their work cut out for them facing some very good competition and the Buffalo Sabres.
Last night, we put game 1 in the books. An overtime loss (naaaaaaaaaaaturally) to the Penguins (who I haaaate but children loooove). It was a game in which Ottawa wasn’t great but wasn’t terrible, spent too much time in the box and didn’t take advantage of power plays…I would say it was the perfect encapsulation of their season except for one element: Craig Anderson kept the score very flattering  while being pelted mercilessly with 48 shots and allowing only 1 in regulation in an outstanding performance.
I don’t know about you Eddy, but that loss stung big time. For me I think it was because the morale boost of absolutely stealing a game away from the conference’s best team on the road would have been perfectly timed. It’s the kind of thing where it could have been worse but you still find yourself pissed off and frustrated. The people who are saying “that’s a huge point against a great team” are totally right but in the moment, deep down, I can’t help but be concerned about how down the line if the team indeed can make it into the playoffs it would be by dragged along by overtime loss points. I believe famed football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant Jr once said, “Loser points win championships.”
Ottawa sits 4th in the NHL in OT losses and while I acknowledge that earning a point in a loss is a fundamental reason behind why Ottawa’s even in the hunt, I still find it pretty concerning that they have a really hard time getting it done in the extra five minutes. Let’s try to look at this positively. That game was one highlight of the night glove save away from 2 points and tonight they are playing another excellent team they fairly recently beat in overtime, the Blues.

Zibreciation Korner
I was frankly stunned to see that Zibanejad had only (I know right? ONLY) 5 shots last night. It seemed like he made something happen on every shift. As a fan, I must say it feels really good to have such good young forward on the team. We endured a very shite season to draft this kid and I think for a 20 year old (!!!), he is developing beautifully. He is currently on pace for 17 goals but it’s games like last night that show me if he can just bury his chances a tad more I have no doubt he can be a 25+ goal scorer one day, and soon. He deserves a bounce or two to go his way because goddamn is the kid working for it. Michalek too to a lesser extent. Has been noticable and hard working and really, reeeeeeeeeally needs to pull ahead of Neil and Smith if he wants to sign another NHL deal.

Heyyyyyyyyy speaking of 25+ goal scorers…
Hockey is like life, there’s ups and downs and I told you ’bout equality and it’s true either you’re wrong or you’re right but if you’re thinkin’ bout my baby (?) it don’t matter if you’re black or white…but also, here’s a list of the players who have scored for Ottawa this month:
Chris Neil
Colin Greening
Chris Neil
Stephane DaCosta
…so attention top 6 forwards, you’re free to exit this low and point the ship toward the sunny shores of another high at any time. TONIGHT FOR INSTANCE! This team has been carried on the offensive output of the Turris-Ryan-MacArthur line all season (adoi). That line has slowed down, however breifly, and the team is winless in their last two as a result. That’s the pressure associated with being a top line. You let your foot off the gas every so briefly and the seas get choppy almost instantly. It’s akin to when Karlsson has a bad game. It’s pretty rare that the story following a victory is “team manages 2 points despite poor play from Karlsson.” It can happen…but let’s not bank on it. The only key player the team has been able to win despite their occasional poor play has been Craig Anderson. Kind of a bummer that he put on a goaltending clinic and a lousy two goals would have got him the much deserved win.
The articles are starting to get written and a point in the season has come that I feared since October. Knowing that he’s a 30 goalscorer coming in…must think of a temperature related word here…whatever, to Ottawa, it was clear Bobby Ryan would have the odd dry spell. He’s played very, very well, picked up assists, hell, even had a goal against Tampa but his scoring drop off coinciding with being left off the US Olympic team, even if just coincidence, has the makings to become a big, distracting and unnecessary story. I’ve been saying for a minute Bobby’s due for a big game and I am still saying it. He was a Blues killer during his time with the Ducks, not as useful these days but tonight would be great to see some of that to put an end to the narrative that’s developing.
Seems kind of harsh to tell Ottawa’s best line to pick up the pace after two games without a goal but I just think that’s the kind of season it is.

Hockey, Am I RIGHT? Part 3 of an Infinity Part Series: 
I still find it fucking MENTAL that since Brian Elliot was traded to Colorado for Anderson, and played so poorly for the Avs (2-8-1) that he was let walk was then picked up by one of the best teams in the league and has since been an All-Star and won a Jennings IN THE WEST. It doesn’t stop there either, he has only 4 regulation losses in 23 starts this season. Senators fans know that he has one skeleton in his closet though: He’s. Actually. Not. All. That. Great. Hey, he has had some great seasons and as much as it pains me, could win a goddamn Stanley Cup this year but having watched Ells play for years he is not the brooding, mysterious western superpower he would seem if he’d never played for Ottawa. We know this guy is beatable which is very handy considering that Jaroslav Halak will get the nod in net tonight *catapults self into the surface of the moon for making you read all of that* Funny (and by funny I mean not funny) to think that Halak has had the “worse” season of the two with a 2.22 GAA and .915 save %. If Ottawa is going to win this game it’s going to be by filling the net. No easy task considering that St. Louis is 3rd in the league in goals for but hey AT LEAST THEY ARE ONLY 2ND BEST IN GOALS AGAINST SO JUST GO OUT THERE AND HAVE………………FUN. I gotta wrap this up and as of this time can’t find any info on who’s starting for Ottawa (THANKS FOR SKIMMING!), regardless of who gets the start they have to play out of their goddamn head tonight.

MUPDATE (1:27pm, EST): Robin Lehner will get the start for Ottawa, he will have to play out of his goddamn head tonight.

This is amazing:

James Day Preview: Ottawa Hosts The Tampagain Lightning

JDP drunk superman Edition

“HIYA FOLKS!” – You, coming home to your parents’ house, pretending you’re not high.

What more is there to say about the week that was other than:

Sharing the laughter and loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove.
But it wasn’t all hipchecks betwixt dudes that we’re traded for each other since the “Bolts” (cool nickname!) last met the “Sens” (much cooler nickname).
We’ve seen solid goaltending, weak goaltending, Stephane DaCosta with his trademark multi-goal game and Platinum Angel Kyle Turris with his very own DaCosta-like two goal game in a losing effort against the Canes…what else? Jason Spezza is good again, I’m really starting to like Eric Gryba, ummm Bobby Ryan, Jared Cowen and Turris all missed an open net while in the attacking zone (Life Hack: Just pass it to MacArthur). Anyway, a solid road win and an ugsome afternoon loss…basically an encapsulation of the season.

Let’s focus on Tampa. The biggest plus I took from the last game against them was, yes, it was great to see Ottawa battle back 3 times but to me what was important was that they scored on Ben Bishop just in general. I still trip out over the fact that on skates his waist is at the same level as the crossbar. He looked huge all through the beginning of the game and was getting in the way of everything Ottawa was throwing at him. Spezza, Turris, Michalek (back from the dead?), and Spezza combined for 17 shots that game and none of them finished the game with a goal. Despite losing in the shootout, a reminder for tonight: do NOT go up against Bishop in the shootout!, I was very happy to see them make him look human and get a few past him. Especially late in the game. Last thing this team needs is a monster division rival goalie (THANKS Brybama!) who can get in our boys heads.
Honestly, Tampa Bay reminds me a lot of Montreal, a team that is not devoid of good players, in fact some great ones are in the mix, but if that goaltending falters? Not that intimidating. It’s teams like the Lightning (14th in the East last season) that make me confident that if Ottawa could just get some shit [goaltending / defense] to really click on a consistent basis they could do some damage. Come talk shit with me!

I guess no better place to start than…continuing to talk about goalies.
The gap betwixt games has given coach MacLean the opportunity to ride Anderson in net and its worked out pretty well. Ottawa is a surprising 5-2-3 in their last 10 and Anderson has been a huge part of that. I found against the Jackets he was his trademark combination of great positioning, timely acrobatic saves, and straight up good luck. Not even hating with the luck comment. You have to have a bit of that to succeed.
This is all we need from him here on out: Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, Consistency.
Anderson is a pretty impressive 6-2-3 against Tampa with 3 of those wins shutouts. I know, when did THAT happen?
After this morning’s skate Paul MacLean announced Robin Lehner has been upgraded to “bread, water and 1 hour of yard time” so…pretty good progress there.
Bishop is a perfect 3-0 against the Sens since being traded to the Lightning so…this brings me to the next item of business:

Hood Pope Cory ChronicHerb 
What? It’s his rap alia$. Anyway, I’m not even bringing him up to pick that trade apart. What’s done is done. I can see taking a Calder candidate over the Oilers offer of Ryan Jones (?) for Bishop. I’m aware that he’s not riding shotgun with Stamkos anymore (welcome to your playing with DaCosta on the fourth line years!) but Conacher can you please choose a time to become a “Lighting killer”?
RANT: Maybe it’s that our team is heavily built ‘in-house’ but do we have any “<Insert team> killer” guys on this squad? Sure Anderson plays really well against his former Panthers club but does that REALLY count as an NHL team? You’re telling me I had to watch JOE CORVO score a hatty against Ottawa when he was a Hurricane for NOTHING? I’m not expecting the world from Conacher but he has 6 goals in 63 games here. He is playing with DaCosta tonight who’s gotta be feeling pretty great about himself right now but on the 4th line it’s hard to expect a lot of output. You know what? Just go out there and HAVE FUN……………………………but seriously score some fucking goals.

Karlsson Korner: 
The Glamours Child looks to continue is just supreme play (now featuring hard hits!). It’s funny as I feel like EK is pretty consistently heralded as one of the best players in the game yet I still think he is underrated. It’s called being a homer, its probably not in the dictionary LOOK IT UP. Anyway, Karlos the Jackyl had an outstanding game the last time the Sens took on the lightning with a goal and an assist. He has 9 points in his last 7 games and I for one would be in favor of his extending this streak. Its crazy to think that the Senators have 4 forwards currently on pace to score between 20 and 30 goals and Karlsson has at least a 9 point lead on all of them. Hail.

Factoid of the day: Karlsson currently trails Chris Phillips for second in all time scoring among Ottawa Senators defensemen by 70 points. He has only 836 games to catch up though.

We in the club like: 

Christopher, Christopher and Associates.

Christopher, Christopher and Associates.

GREAT! You woke up Old Man Phillips.

Hey Lover,

As a creep [See: above line], I’ve been going about my business creeping on message boards and twitter and in my travels I keep coming across something I’d like to discuss with you up in that tree fort over there.

Recent injuries to veteran Christophers Neil and Phillips have seen their newly minted Associate Assistant Captain duties assigned to other deserving players in the line up. We’ve seen the “A” affixed to the uniforms of Marc Methot, Kyle Turris and delightful wood sprite Erik Karlsson over the course of the season. You know what? The letter has looked good on each of them.

Since these fine young lads have taken so well to the letter, I have encountered a number of fans speculating who will take over the role of assistant captain next year. Particularly with regard to Phillips whom many think is on his way out. Your father and I have become very concerned that you’re going to be hurt by this.

I’m afraid you’re setting yourself up to be among the many people who will be disappointed when Chris Phillips is re-signed for maybe two more years after this season. Make no mistake here, I’m definitely not saying that I want that, I wish the team would get real-real with him and say, “Thanks for your years of dedication but the organization has decided to move on.”
I am personally of the opinion that Eric Gryba, who is the lowest paid player on the team by the way…YES he makes less than Matt Kassian, could handily take over Big Rig’s role on the team. It’s not going to happen though. Gryba wouldn’t be included in proposed trades if he was a lock for a future spot on the team.
Let’s look at the cold hard facts: Phillips has 1100+ games / 100+ playoff appearances in an Ottawa uniform, wears an A and owns a goddamn RESTOBAR in town. That’s not even touching the PR mess that was the organization letting their beloved captain walk a little over 6 months ago.
Murray is desperate to buy und Phillips is desperate to sell. They’re the original odd couple! Phillips is so entrenched here, I think he’d even take like $900K to stick around if he has to. HE EVEN HAS A SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME! I’ll be interested to see how that plays out as both sides appear to have leverage.

The other misconception with #4 is that because he LOOKS old that there’s an assumption that he is retiring soon. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that it will be at the end of this season. I’m going to knock your socks off here, dude is but 35 years of age. Perspective: Rap-rocker Joe Corvo is 36! My feeling is that despite Philly’s advancing age and declining play, he is not yet old enough or bad enough that the he wont be kept on in his current mentor role and for a minute.

“But what of the trade deadline,” ye might ask, “on an expiring deal wouldn’t he be the perfect veteran pick up for a contender?”
No! That ship has totally sailed. If Ottawa were going to get a return on Phillips it would have had to have been during Yon Great Fire Sale of 2011. Instead they inked him to an EVEN AT THAT TIME overly long, overly generous 3 year/$3.5MM per year deal.
As for suitors, I can’t really think of a team that would consider themselves a contender who would be looking for a bottom pairing D man who’s been so-so this season for their playoff run. Sure he’s been to a Final but that was 7 years ago now…also on a team that didn’t win. Remember how Murray could barely give away Alex Kovalev? That guy had over 1000 points, numerous all star appearances, 2 Olympic medals and a cup ring! I simply cannot see the team giving away one of their associate assistant captains for a conditional seventh round pick.
Anyway, as Gryba shows, those bottom pairing type players are guys teams tend to already have kicking around. A buying team would have to be one with serious injury concerns looking to pick Phillips up as depth. Plus I generally think they straight up wont shop him Oh, PLUS+PLUS Phillips has a limited no trade clause. Murray gave him a pretty nutso deal last time around (3rd highest paid D man!) I can totally see him getting TWO more years. It would be a one year deal that would be the surprise for me.

As for Neil, the conversation is a much shorter one: Bro is a fourth liner who makes nearly $2MM until 2016. The Sharks apparently wanted him in 2011, instead Ottawa locked him up until he turns 37. Don’t see Neiler as movable now or at least until the 2016 trade deadline and who knows what his game will look like then.

Anyway, maybe you’re fine with all this. I’ve made peace with it and if you haven’t, well, I’m not trying to bum you out or whatever just trying to brace you for what I think is to come. If it were up to me, this is an area where I wish the organization would pass the torch a little bit. They made a good step with the Spezza captaincy and, yes, my picks would be Karlsson and Turris for the A’s. Maybe one day we will see them in that role but I think we’re going to have to wait a while to see it.