I’m Okaig With Craig or Defending Big C: Y Craig Anderson’s New Extension Am a Good Thing.

File Photo of Greg Anderton Bobblehead

File Photo of Greg Anderton Bobblehead

Hi,

I’m here to talk to you. About a human goaltender who signed a contract. His name is Greg Anderton. A few days ago when the Senators announced they had extended him, I have to admit I was pretty shocked (shocked!) by the amount of hand wringing and frustration that the announcement seemed to be met with.

In review, this [long] off season has seen a cornucopia of signings. (Ed note: Is a cornucopia even a real life thing? Comment if you’ve ever seen one. Pffft, more like Unicornucopia)

Great, smart signings: Clarke MacArthur, David Legwand, Clarke MacArthur, Clarke MacArthur

Weird signings: Milan Michalek for knee years, knee million dollars per knee.

A full on psychedelic rock ride signing: Mark Borowiecki being made part of the Sens exciting new generation because he…passed…his…2 year, 21 game audition? Heyyy, currently second longest contract for a Sens defender, behind only Erik Karlsson.
Interesting fact: Karlsson himself, coincidentally, was also signed after just 21 games in NHL. Wait…was that signed after 21 games or re-ASSIGNED to Binghamton after 9 games? I don’t remember. I wish there was a microfiche thing I could that up on.  

Goalie signing(s): Robin Lehner was locked up until 2017 solidifying his rightful seat on the Thrown of the Skulls of Heretics as the goalie future and — oh and what’s this right here? Craig Anderson was also re-upped a few days later, for twice as much money until 2018…solidifying him…on the Corvette of Good Tidings?…huh…Confusing move but you know what? Good.

Now, before I am pelted with folding chairs, let me grovel explain why I think his signing is a good one for the Ottawa Senators in my patented Thirty Several Thoughts column.

Goaltenders are just people. Regular Joan Lunchpails like you and me who, you know, get injured.

As much as any fan wants their team to have a undisputed, dominant starting goaltender, a couple of recent examples of how that all eggs in one basket strategy can actually be a pretty big risk come to mind: 

Ottawa – Montreal 2013 Playoff Series: Carey Price is a good, consistent starting goaltender. In my opinion, he helps float Montreal into a strata of success that they wouldn’t otherwise enjoy without him. Case in point: He was pretty shaky against Ottawa in that series but was I the only one who thought “Oh wow, these guys are
 fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked” when Price went down and Budaj had to start all of a sudden? Sure, price only played particularly well in one game that series but it was only when Budaj got the call that it felt like the Sens were going to win.  

Tampa Bay – Montreal 2014 Playoff Series: This one may hit close to home for Sens fans as we saw Ben Bishop get traded to Tampa for Cory Conacher (The OTHER Ryan Shannon) and watched him go on to almost single headedly turn Tampa Bay from toilet trolls to contenders in a heartbreakingly impressive, Vezina nominated performance. Contenders they were, of course, until Bishop was injured toward the end of the season. The question became ‘Can Anders Lindback hold the fort dow-‘ aaaaaand Swept in 4 games in the first round. See you in the car, Milhouse.

You knew I was going here: I needn’t remind Sens fans about Dominek Hasek getting hurt heading into the post season back in “Our Year” of 05-06. No pressure, up from the AHL rookie, Ray Emery. Lead us to the promised land.

Lehner might indeed be the starting goaltender of the future but today ain’t the future.

I’ll start this off by saying this: Lehner is my guy. I want him to be the best goaltender that Ottawa’s ever developed in-house. But the pragmatist in me (read: snivelling coward) can’t ignore that he has only 61 regular season games and two playoff starts under his belt at this point. To illustrate how little experience that is, Anderson played 63 games in his first full season in Ottawa. Just because Lehner got his first Big Kid contract doesn’t mean he’s officially a starter. These things take time. 
Yes, you have to start getting those starts at some point and I do hope that Paul MacLean gives Lehner fair shake this season but at just 23 years of age (a toddler in Goalie Years) its relieving to have Lehner insulated by one the best goalies the franchise has ever had.

I’ve heard some concern from other fans that judging by Anderson’s comments at the end of his [disappointing] season that he has no interest in playing second fiddle which is just asking for a goaltending controversy.

Ummm good? After having such a series of mediocre goaltenders for years, where the true controversy was over who was less bad, the last thing I want to see is a guy in full Marty Biron “Lady, Lundqvist’s puttin’ my kids through college!” career backup mode. Drive is something I, and I think many others, have always loved about Lehner. I definitely want some caliente fuego in the goalie tandem. Comfort is for the now retired in Florida Roberto Luongos of the world.
Oh and here’s the other thing…
If Lehner emerges as the undisputed starter, he’s going to take that job whether it’s Craig Anderson backing him up or Craig David.      

Here’s the most interesting counter argument. Let’s act it out. You be the bold letters and I’ll be Police Chief Wiggum: 

Why tie up 6 million in cap space on our budget team when it can be spent on locking up another player who fills a team need? I hear Zenon Konopka and Joe Corvo are available.
First off, I don’t think in today’s NHL that $6M dollars is a lot of money for two goalies that we know are good over rolling the dice on Lehner as starter and having Andrew Hammond (1 career NHL game) or Nathan Lawson (11 NHL games since being signed undrafted in 2008) to step in if he struggles. Keep in mind, former unproven Bingo goalie Mike Brodeur is currently an ECHL free agent. Also, there are no goaltending prospects in the system beyond those guys who appear even close to the pro level.  

So, just find a cheaper proven goaltender through free agency or a trade you smart ass son of a bitch.
K, a bit harsh with the name calling but feel me dawg: Looking for a goalie through free agency or a trade means competing with other teams to get a player sign and to or convince a GM to deal. That might not prove well for the team’s budget either or worse could cost us from our now dwindling prospect pool. On top of this you’re introducing a new player to a new system.
Instead we get our up and coming guy in Lehner as well as our vet Andy who’s been a very respectable 81 – 52 -17 since coming here btw. And hey, if Lehner blows Anderson out of the water and Andy wants out? I wouldn’t imagine it would be too tough to move Andy in a league where year after year come trade deadline without fail a team or two seems desperate for goaltending help. I’m hoping with the Sens current tandem that we wont have to be one of them.

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The Hidden #TRUTH Behind Bobby Ryan’s Contract Negotiations

#STAYWOKE

#STAYWOKE

    Benghazi
mOon landing was faked by Stanley Kubrick (name contains letters R.Y.A.N.)
oBama birth certificate
    Bilderberg Group met in Ottawa once
    Y r u covering up the chemtrails?

      Rituals of the Illuminati take place in Bohemian Grove. Ryan used to  play in California
      Y is the Federal Reserve Bank controlling Sens new TV revenue?
      Alluminati
moNsanto foods is putting genetically modified no trade clauses in our chicken nuggets

30 Thoughts™ From Sens Dev. Camp (or “That 2 Period Scrimmage I Watched”)

Fred
I recently attended a two period long, clock running the whole time ass scrimmage where the Senators development camp prospects squared off in a battle where my personal entertainment was on the line. No beer or cell phone reception at the Kanata Rec. Centre means I can actually recall what I saw.
Please note that I was sat up on some gully ass bleachers and could only really catch team black attacking and team white defending. What’s that? That statement mean’s little to nothing? Good, you’ve prepared well for this post! Fuck around and get baptized as I share my 30 Thoughts™ on the affair.

1. Mark Stone was hilariously, hilariously better than all of the other forwards. Maybe it’s the confidence that comes with suiting up for a couple dozen NHL games but Stoner/Stoney/Stones (def. one of those 3 is his nickname) seemed to get 2 extra seconds to decide what to do with the puck. He played with urgency but was noticeably patient as well. Really dictated the pace in the attacking zone. His smarts resulted in him scoring a super nice turn around, top shelf goal from the slot when everyone else seemed kind of gassed on the play.
Best part: Despite a dominant performance he actually looked like it was taking it easy on the kids.

2. I know it’s in style to be very unexcited about any of our prospects right now but you come here to read the garbage musings of a Cyber Badboy like myself so here it is: I’m buying in on this Curtis Lazar hype. I can see why the book on him on his draft day is that he is an extremely safe bet to help your NHL club (or around the house!). Considering that this was a scrimmage my dude had an impressively complete game. I was pretty blown away by how he could consistently be part of the rush, if not leading it, and manage to be first back to his own end. In industry terms, we call this type of play “A Coach’s Wet Dream.” Incredibly fast backchecking. Very hard to tell what role he eventually projects to  but certainly left me with the impression that he will be part of the big team sooner than later. I can’t imagine he has many aspects to round out at the AHL level from what I saw.

3. Time to talk about Anders Englund AKA Li’l Ivan Drago AKA Yung Big Grill. Looked raw like sushi out there at times but made a couple of pretty nice defensive plays. Pancaked a couple of youngins along the boards and made some safe exit passes. Anything fancy seemed to throw him for a loop which is a bit surprising for a Euro WHO PLAY LIKE A BUNCHA GRRLS ON FIGURE SKATING ICE! LETS GOOOO (thumbs up). Given that he was paired with slickster Mikael Wikstrand, Englund would got pretty hot potato when passed the puck with speed. It should probably be noted that Anders Englund is an 18 years young human boy who was drafted in the 2nd round like a week ago and is probably still dealing with 5 hours of jetlag.

4. Didn’t really get to see the much talked about Freddy Claesson as he and Cody Ceci were quite far away from where I was sitting. I did get to see him take a pretty dynamite shot from the point which was a nice takeaway considering all your hear about him is his +/-. Hope to see him get a game or two this season. Sounds like he’s really earning his praise in Bingo. Dmen take time to develop (RIGHT JARED COWEN?!) but sounds like Freddy is on a steep curve.

5. Newly acquired Nick Paul and Alex Guptill each had a pretty solid showing. Guptil even potted a goal. How’s it feel to already be grouped together boys? Anyway I have a feeling at least one of these fellas will go on to score 687 points in 686 games for the Senators. Dare 2 Dream.

6. A surprise standout for me was Tobias Lindberg. My dude was one of the few players that I would describe as flashy in the game. He created a number of chances with his Toilet Mitts™ and blinding speed. Pretty cool to see him stand out as he’s only 18 and was just drafted last year. There’s not a ton about him on the ‘net (internet) but with speed and skill coupled with a 6’2″, 187lbs frame, he doesn’t have a ton working against him. Also not working against him: Not much organizational depth at right wing. Wasn’t really a guy on my radar screen before (What? I’m not MADE of radar screen space, okay? Your mother and I work like dogs to put a radar screen over your head and food on your radar screen, so show a little respect.) but I’ll be keeping tabs on him going forward.

7. Shane Prince (who’s back in the Twitter game on some Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in” shit) missed the scrimmage with a mild injury. He was sitting down the bench from me in the bleachers. I am happy to report he still has the mightiest hairline in the Ottawa Senators organization. Thing is like a fortress.

8. The guys with AHL experience like Buddy Robinson and Ryan Dzingle (whom I found particularly impressive) really showed that extra poise. They were both calm with the puck and always in the right spot positionally. Good to see your farm club guys playing the system effectively.

9. Miles Gendron is just a tremendous, tremendous skater. So smooth he makes 1999  D’Angelo seem like dusted 2010 D’Angelo. The one thing I would say is that despite being listed as tall as 6’2″ and as heavy as 186 on certain prospect sites, he looked very slight out there. I could be wrong but I’m talkin’ getting crossed out and dunked on by Jean Gabriel Pageau slight. He’ll be starting his freshman campaign at University of Connecticut next year so that Residence Cafeteria slop should fatten him up considerably over the season. Expect him to put on an additional…oh I don’t know…15™ pounds.

10. Matt Puempel was fairly quiet all “game” long. Even went so far as to hear someone in all seriousness call the first round pick a bust. I mean, you know what they say, you don’t come second in AHL rookie scoring without making a few enemies. In fairness, I suppose I was hoping for a  bit more flash from one of our more promising hopefuls but I’ll take his performance in his first year as an AHL pro over one scrimmage.

11. They played a recording of Lyndon Slewidge singing “O Canada” over the tinniest PA system at the beginning of the game which…you can’t write this shit.

12. Speaking of quiet performances, one guy I really had my eye on that I didn’t have much to say about afterward was Swedish defenseman Mikael Wikstrand. Wikstrand garnered a lot of attention from Sens fans after putting up 20 points in 27 games for Mora’s tier 2 team.  Fam, you see my dilemma. 20 points in 27 games is a pretty exceptional output for a dman but I don’t know if the tier 2 Swedish league is the Euro QMJHL scoring-wise. I was looking forward to seeing him play in person. He’s earned a graduation to the top level Swedish Hockey League where he seems to be continuing to produce. What was I saying? Oh yeah, couldn’t get a read on him in a 40 minute game where they didn’t even stop the clock between plays. If I knew how to do that shrugging guy emoticon thing…BELIEVE I would be using it right here.

13. Did I talk about the Lyndon Slewidge thing? I did, eh. What a world tho…when you sit and think about it for a second.

14. There was some shootout thing at the end I don’t remember very well. I think Mark Stone scored a nice goal. Mark Stone is really good. Especially at development camp scrimmage shootouts.

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24. Stay woke: New episode of the Scotchcast coming soon.

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Roundtable of Death: Good Times? GREAT Times Edition.

TOD

VARADA SAYS: 

We’ve been submarine silent these past few weeks, what with suffering severe dehydration and collapsing in the middle of Bank St. The city workers came along and pushed us to the side of the road with brooms and we’ve collected ourselves. Upon checking the internet for new developments, the following crazy things happened:

  • Spezza was finally dealt, though not to St. Louis as had been speculated, but to Dallas for a couple of un-sexy prospects, a winger who might be a third liner, and a pick, all of which seems totally fair for what might be a one-year rental of an oft-injured player.
  • General Managers committed half a billion dollars to free agents, despite everything we heard about this being a weak free agent class.
  • The draft happened. Some players were drafted. Checking NHL.com, I see that Ottawa did officially attend.

First thing’s first: Spezz. Let me just say, right off, that I don’t quite understand how trading a couple of mid-tier prospects would have been more of a risk for St. Louis than signing Paul Stastny for $7MM per year. Good player and all, and I guess if it doesn’t work out they’ll be able to find a taker for him on the trade market. But I’m surprised they passed on the low-risk one year remaining on Spezza’s deal.

But enough about thinking of other teams. At the time of this writing, Ottawa has officially become the Bad News Bears of the NHL. Lots of exciting young talent, all uppity and not knowing they’re supposed to be bad. (They….might be pretty bad.) I don’t want to be a terrible person here, but they’re starting to look a bit like to Islanders to me. Lots of great prospects, nothing but promise. That’s putting it diplomatically. I’d like to live in Brooklyn, too.

James, you and I were chatting about this: Twitter became just a cesspool of cynicism following the deal. Do you think fans are becoming hyperbolic babies? Or do you think the notion of a Chiasson – Zibanejad – Michalek / Stone / Hoffman (?) second line is legitimately scary bad? Where are we gonna put all of these third line players?

JAMES SAYS: 

*Snorts a 3 inch thick line of whatever drug it is that I do to help me look at the positive side of things like yesterday off a huge hunting knife* AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH TIGHT TIGHT TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.

Me IRL

Me IRL

On Spezza:
It’s a really good point you make about the low risk nature of the Spezza deal not being more attractive to suitors. It was confusing to me that Spezza seemed to be made out as the class C pony of the centre market. Did St. Louis learn nothing from that Ryan Miller experience? If you’re going to try to get a guy to put your already very good club over the top, might be smart to take the guy where if he shits the bus you can walk away. Spezza’s a one year risk, things go great, extend him; he flames out let him sign with the stupid Canucks (see what I did there?).

Maybe it’s because I’ve watched him play his whole career but I thought Spezza was really being undervalued whenever his name was brought up. The vibe was like, “Oh if Kesler and Stastny go, there’s still Spezza kicking around, I guess.”
Jeez, guess you don’t put up 687 points in 686 games over 11 seasons without making a few enemies?
– Doze injuries tho!
How you gonna tell me injuries aren’t a concern with Ryan Kesler of all people?
Dat Kesler playoff performance tho!
Kesler can be a beast for sure but it’s not like Spezza doesn’t have playoff experience. In one game fewer, Spezz has 14 more playoff points than Kesler. Different players for sure but I can’t believe how across the board Kesler was seen as the better catch of the two. I thought it was pretty even. Kesler better two way, Spezza more offense.

Thoughts on the Spezza deal:
Ehhhh…Murray, why the make or break obsession with the 1st round pick? This from a guy who once gave up a first round pick for motherfuckin’ Chris Campoli. This time around we didn’t have a 1st rounder in an apparently weak draft because we dealt for Bobby Ryan. I’ve BEEN comfortable about that. Ryan’s an awesome player.
I’m not sure if it was due to a lack of options thanks to Spezza’s no trade clause (those things are gr8 btw!!) or what but I don’t know why Murray wasn’t bullish on going 1 for 1. I heard a Spezza for Keith Yandle straight up rumour that I’m still bummed out didn’t happen. Imagine? Whatever. That was then (read: never) this is now, this is Stouffers.
If I were to describe my reaction to this deal it would be “Spezza for Mika Zibanejad & two scratch for cash tickets.” I’m not going to pretend to know the ceiling of a sophomore who played for Dallas, a team I actually forget exists, but from the looks of it Alex Chiasson is The Stars’ Zibanejad. Obviously a good, young player who’s just now dipping his other foot in the NHL. How good is he? Well, like Ziba we shall soon find that out.
I guess I’m just glad it’s over and that it didn’t get too nasty.

In the end, as a person who wants to see the team start a new chapter of the franchise pronto, I’m okay with the Sens skewing younger. Spezza is going to be looking for what could be the last contract of his career in a year from now. The Sens have to sign a ton of players over the next couple seasons. Given the budget thing (u herd ov dis budjet mess?), it’s very, VERY likely that Ottawa would have been outbid for #19 and would have just watched him walk for nothing. That or sign Spezza into his late 30s for a lot of cap space. I’ve said it since last year: I have been a fan and defender of the guy his whole career and I think dealing Spezza sucks but is ultimately a smart business decision.

As for the team this year. I still love our top line. We still have one of the best players on planet earth QBing our power play. I think our goaltending along with a few other players can’t help but bounce back closer to normalcy after down years. And yeah, there’s definitely going to be a lot of trial by fire. I am actually okay with that. There’s been a lot of promising development of Ziba, Stone and Hoffman, but at some point you have to see what they really are. I put money on that at least one of them is a true 2nd liner. The addition of Chiasson only serves to bolster the odds of someone from this young, promising group working out. I’ll take a season on the chin to find out what they can do. The second line is what is up for grabs for sure. Lord knows we have enough bottom six players to ice two full teams. As for the defence, the only thing I’m sure of is that Murray will make a trade for a D man as soon as I post this because…internet.

A brief answer to your question about the mood on Twitter:
There was no better example of what it was like on Twitter yesterday than when Benoit Pouliot signed with Edmonton.
People were FURRRRRRRRRRIOUS that Murray didn’t land him. A good player slipped through his fingers, sure but here’s the thing: People would have been equally FURRRRRRRRRRRRIOUS if Murray signed him to that same deal the Oilers gave him.
All this rage over a guy that literally 24 hours before FA day no Sens fan talked about ONCE. What a difference a day makes.
I can’t really blame my fellow fans for their outrage. After a year of sticks, resigning Milan Michalek is not much of a carrot.
Oddly enough, re-upping Michalek reminded me a lot of the initial feeling after losing Alfie of how the next piece of news was “And now we announce the signing of a player you haaaaate from the Leafs, Clarke MacArthur!” And how much of a let down that felt like. Oops. Turns out I needed to be a bit more patient.
Sens fans need a win. Give Bobby Ryan a big…THING of riches.

Scotchcast Episode 5: “God Bless the Dead (Aerosmith)”

Scotchcast

 

Hey Boo,

After a post-Olympic dry spell, the world’s most beloved and least popular Ottawa Senators podcast, the WTYKY Scotchcast returns!
Thanks to my being the Pascal LeClaire of the recording arts, Varada, Steve and I recorded a podcast chock full of delicious technical problems rendering it virtually unlistenable. Great engineering job, me! …You know what, it’s probably just as well as Varada brought over a bottle of some scotch I’d never heard of from India (birthplace of SCOTCH!) and things got….in a word, messy. No, really, even by our standards it was messy. I don’t remember huge portions of it. What’s important is that I deleted it. Oh you’re not getting off that easy…we re-did it.
It’s with mixed emotions that I announce that Varada could not attend the re-recording session as he will be off reprising his role as Magical Mister Mephistopheles in an off-off-off-off Broadway production of Andrew Dice Weber’s Cats this summer at the Soulja Boi Centre for the Performing Arts in Butte, Montana this summer. Get tickets here! Break a leg, V! (Seriously, teach you to miss our Scotchcast re-record).
Spoiler Alert: Steve and James talk about Jason Spezza…and…I think Edward Furlong comes up at one point…what eeeeeelse… oh, we take YOUR questions in the latest installment of “Talk to the Audience.” Enjoy!

Area Man Assholishly Issues Letter Grade to Pro Athletes’ Performance: Defence & Goaltending

wiggum

Blech, this oughta be fun.
If there was a consensus criticism among Sens fans this season, it was probably that the main issue with the team was a porous defence which contributed to shaky goaltending. Well, I agree hypothetical summation of fan attitude! ALL IN ALL A GREAT YEAR! Thanks for reading and see ya in October! …oh you’re still here. Umm, well, might as well relive the memories of the year that was on defence and in net. Join me in the pits of helllllllllllllllllllllll or this blooooog (same thing).

Playah Grade Emotions
Erik Karlsson A Are there things to improve upon a bit? Sure, only really in that same way that any 23 year old (!) top pairing pro should be looking to improve their game. Was his D game up to where it was two seasons ago? No, but maybe the fact that he came back from having his Achilles slashed less than a year ago and came 4 points within his Norris season production overshadows that. Me, I’m still in ‘Thankful he can still play like Erik Karlsson’ mode. I’m going to put a dime on EK being a plus player next season. He led a team with one of the most productive forward lines in the NHL in points. Still hands down the best player on the team. Long live the king.
Marc Methot C+ Methot had a strong arrival in Ottawa anchoring the back end of a depleted line up and quickly won the favour of many with his fast skating and penchant for hip checking particularly disagreeable players (Kadri, Cosby, yes, Cosby).
On the heels of an Olympic camp invite this past summer, it seemed all but certain he was a lock for the top pairing with EK but in the end he had a bit of a down season. He got shuffled around and even scratched (which I didn’t really understand).
A down season on a team having a down season…oh gentle reader, what’s a girl to do..with his/her OPINIONS?
I sincerely hope for a return to his swift and steady ways in the futuristic year 2014-15 I almost don’t know what to outright call him out on. Hot take: Have a better season next season, you big galoot!
I think it would be unfair to say Methot in particular submarined a weak performance by the defence corps. He logged an average of nearly 22 mins per game (second only to Karlsson’s 89 mins per period) put up 23 points, scored some timely goals, took 117 shots (which were more than many forwards on the team could muster) and finished even in +/-. I’m not saying Methot was the linchpin he was expected to be but his was not the worst season by a Sens defenceman I’ve ever seen (See: Chris Phillips 2010-11 – 82GP, 9PTS, +/-: -35). I think he can turn it around. It could help him to be paired with Erik Karlsson regularly in place of Jared Cowen. Though I guess Cowen earned those top minutes what with his terrible, terrible season and all. Ugh.
Patrick Wiercioch Did not attend Performed reasonably well when given a rare shot at actually playing the game of hockey on the team that just signed him to a three year, one-way contract.
Biggest complaint: Needs to stop having sex with Paul MacLean’s wife if he’s going to see more ice time. Could get more time on the power play if he devotes his summer to not having sex with Paul MacLean’s wife.
Chris Phillips D+ Must…not…let…hatred…for…contract…influence…grade.
Yes, he used to be very good but, honestly, one of the worst defencemen on the team this year. If people are going to talk about Spezza setting a bad example as captain, can we talk about how there’s a very real possibility that the guy who leads the team in “shaking his head at himself while staring at the ice after getting a goal scored against” might be captain next year?
According to the numbers Phillips has a history of bouncing back after bad seasons. Sound Logic: Expect a pretty big bounce back then…at age 37? *jazz hands*
His 15 points are okay for his standard. Also led the team in high fives given after wins, though I’d love to see those numbers improve. He was actually producing a little bit when he was put on the power play because Paul MacLean hates my viewing experience. Something-something mentoring-schmentoring Cody Ceci. Ugh, this isn’t really the place to get into this but I can’t believe he was rewarded with a multi-year deal for his season. For a team that has to be careful with its dollars, I can’t fathom why the organization would think devoting a total of 4 million dollars for the next TWO seasons to Phillips is good value. What’s worse is his assistant captaincy, billion games of experience, community involvement, politics, infinity make him virtually impossible to scratch going forward. *Sens horn song* SENS ARMY PLEASE WELCOME YOUR 2015-2016 38 year oooooooold Chriiiiiiis Phiiiiiiilliiiiiiips *Cheers for some reason*
Jared Cowen F You held out for that? For THAT? That’s what you give us to look at after holding out? BAD GIANT SEINFELD. You and your novelty sized mouth guard are going to your giant bed without your stupid mega supper. If you’re an NHL player who’s over 6 foot 4 and 220lbs you get hella (ew, sorry) chances to redeem yourself. As a fan, I am pinning my hopes on how Cowen was pretty good, then got injured badly and was suddenly awful AND SO LOGIC DICTATES HE WILL HEAL AND SOMEHOW BECOME GOOD AGAIN (right?). This season wasn’t a “down” one like others experienced. No, with Cowen it was a setback in his development. We did it, Boo.
Eric Gryba B+ Turns out Eric Gryba is pretty alright. Nothing was more awesome than seeing good ol’ Grybes become a bit of an advanced stats darling for the Sens defence for a stretch this season. Curious to see if his good performance this season will actually end up making him the cherry on top of a big trade package. Never thought Gryba would even make the team back in the day. Always thought he would top out as “competent injury call up” Good on ya, Lasagna. I call Eric Gryba ‘Lasagna,’ it’s our thing…I don’t know, it’s silly. Let’s move on to the next thing…
Joe Corvo Drop D No truth to the rumors that Corvo is reforming his band Crazytown for Ozzfest 2014 but keep checking www.welcometoyourkarlssonyears.com in the coming weeks for any updates!
Cody Ceci A- Ehh, k, so I know he’s a first round pick and all but I thought Cecer Augustus was going to spend the next two years in Binghamton. As an Ottawa 67s fan, I spent years watching him dominate the barber pole blueline through good times and bad eventually becoming team captain. I was thrilled when Ottawa scooped him up in the draft at 15th.
The fact that he is not a very physical player for his large size made me assume Old Man Murray would make him spend a couple of seasons at Sir Luke Richardson’s Grit Academy. Turns out his talent and an endorsement from the BSens coach citing him as “one of the best players in the AHL” allowed him to fast track his graduation. Truth be told I’d have been happy to see him get one call up this season let alone 49 games. Expectations? Thoroughly surpassed.
Next year is a whole new situation for Ceci as defence is a damn tough job and now that he’s a lock to make the team, expectations will be different. Hopefully he doesn’t allow Chris Phillips’ uh….leadership to handcuff him too much. He was a little quiet production-wise given his average of over 17 mins of ice time but that might be me setting an unrealistic standard from his high flying OHL years. Still, I’d rather him play it safe while he continues to gain experience and branch out from there. Get’s an A just for saving the organization the prospect (and likely more) that they were just about to trade in exchange for what would have probably been very average D help before his call up.
Mark Borowiecki C+ It’s no secret by now that Mark Borowiecki looks like a ninja turtle. Was decent in his call up. Glad he made up for that own goal as that shit happens but it would have been be a really bad impression to leave on the season. By tying Matt Kassian in goals, Boro will get the benefit of starting off his one-way deal (tugs collar) fresh. Really wanted him to finish the year with more points than Kassian…but there are dreams that cannot be.
Craig Anderson C+ Andy, Andy, Andy. I didn’t expect you to be the monster that you were last year but damn boy you had some mo-ments of being a shadow of yourself. I’ve gone over this ad nauseum this season but one last time, as our man Steve texted me during a particularly rough game, “Why the hell can’t Anderson stop the first 10 shots of the game?”
Steve and I started paying attention to this and oooo boy I kind of wish we didn’t. He went a serious stretch without keeping pucks out before the magic number 10. Even in wins. As a Sens fan, I feel I have a sad fondness for the notion that teams play better when they trust their goalie. I don’t think Anderson instilled that confidence this year. Was he hung out to dry a lot? Often! Is goaltender the most difficult job in hockey? Ahhhhh yeah. What irks me though is that Andy’s whole strength since he arrived here was that he was the first Sens goalie in ages who allowed the team to play bravely in front of him. He could compensate for their mistakes a little. It’s not a particularly attainable model but I think he lost some of that infectious confidence this season. He showed flashes of the brilliant Andy we know and love. He’ll always able to show those flashes because he’s a really good goalie. We’ve seen his capacity to be a great, consistent goalie though. He has to get back somewhere near that place if the team as a whole is going to go anywhere. It’s telling that he turned around his season toward back half and still only salvaged his GAA to an even 3.00. Maintained reputation as “a more hyped up interview than Robin Williams” for 3rd consecutive season which is worth something.
Robin Lehner C+ This season had to be a humbling one for the “Lehner would have stopped that” crowd. He was always lurking in the background, one blood sacrifice away from stealing Anderson’s job but good. His three game winning streak after an unsuccessful road trip only solidified this pro-Lehner line of thinking. Why can’t Andy win three in a row? Then Anderson got hurt (again) and it was Lehner time, full time! ;) Aaand turns out he’s 22 years old. Basically a zygote as far as goalies go. What’s encouraging is that his struggles are pretty normal. That so many of us believed in Lehner’s inevitable usurping of the starter job is just a testament to how ahead of the development curve he was. Robin’s attitude appears to have really improved and it seems he has embraced the role of student over heir apparent. This will only help him.
Robin put up some noble losing efforts this year particularly early on routinely facing 40 to a completely unacceptable 50 shots a game. He also had some simply god awful performances (I don’t even think I need to point out which games…pick your own favorite!). Either way, he finished the season with a losing record. Something no goalie would be proud of.
Like with Anderson, it must be considered that he played behind a porous defence and spent too much time behind a short handed team to succeed. On the other hand, hey, it’s a harsh world and if Ryan Miller can put up a 2.72GAA and .923 save percentage behind the Buffalo Sabres…you gotta do better than that on a middling squad like the Senators. Still love / am terrified of him. Have a super duper off-season and may many goats perish in the name of your player development. I still believe the hour of purification is at hand.

 

Area Man Assholishly Issues Letter Grade to Pro Athletes’ Performance: Forwards

Hi! Where have I been? Uhh…ummm where have YOU been? Yeah *ultimate comeback diffuses line of questioning* . So, the year is mercifully over (well for Ottawa) and now comes that completely dickish time of year when jerks like me flippantly stamp a letter grade on some of the world’s greatest hockey players like it’s some kind of ga– hold on… *puts hand over rotary phone receiver* “what? …it IS just a game? …fact that league minimum salary is…WHAT $550,000.00 eases pain? Like, as in, over half a million bananas? Damn, why didn’t you tell me all this stuff…no it’s just I’m in the middle of a post…I’ll…whatever.

So i did a report card thing….then it got long because I do what I want when I want (am longwinded/the worst). So I am going to split it up. Here is the Forwards edition!

Playah Grade Emotions
Jason Spezza B+ This one’s tricky. Spezza’s first year as captain was as polarizing as one would expect. Starting the season with a wonky groin certainly didn’t help his debut campaign as leader. Put me in the camp that thinks he was a fine choice and handled himself well. He was accountable in the media, put his game together especially in the latter half of the year, did well on the power play and straight up stole a few shootout wins. That said, if you made a scale of captains with Best Forward (Ex. Alex Ovechkin) on one end and Stay At Home Dad (Ex. Jonathan Toews) on the other, obviously we know what end he falls closer to. A game I went to against Calgary comes to mind where Spezz just made a handful of Flames players his step-nephews and fed Michelek a pass so accurate that the goal was more or less a rebound off of #9’s blade than an assist. Heeeeee also had A FEW blind giveaways that even taking into consideration that he’s a creative player who needs room for his art, if Mark Stone or Mike Hoffman made the same blunder just once there’d be a running car waiting outside CTC to take them back to Bingo during the 2nd intermission. Sometimes Spezza is the man and “puts contery on his back” and other times he doesn’t exactly set a great example for the young guys. So basically, he was Jason Spezza with a C on his jersey. The question of his future here is no longer merely the denizen of angry post-game callers or worse, Ottawa Sun columnists. His impending UFA status puts his future in Ottawa very much in doubt. Too valuable to ever let walk for nothing, this summer truly is the time to fish or cut bait with him. I think a Spezza trade is either going to be the mark of a new era for the Sens or a huge mistake. Oh! Also, pretty good season. Have a great summer!
Kyle Turris A+ The Platinum Angel (I copyright this extremely weird and unpopular nickname). Last year, due to a severe Spezza injury – yikes – he was forced into the 1st line centre role and held down the fort as best he could in the shortened season. In Spezza’s absence he was decent but inconsistent production-wise. This season he straight up stole the job from the captain. His instant chemistry with MacArthur and Bobby Ryan earned him a shot at pivot on the first line but it was his consistency that kept him there. Turry’s progression since arriving in the capital has made his contract one of the best in the league in terms of value. Some questions remain over whether he faced the toughest competition but if he keeps developing like he is I think he can step up. I bought a Turris jersey this year.
Clarke MacArthur A+ The way I describe Grizz is thusly, “He is a perfect hockey player.” What would you change about Clarke’s game? He’s fast, has good hands and a great shot, knows when to pass, plays both ways and is physical. All I could possibly say is he went on a couple of dry spells and spends a fair amount of time in the box. This is to me doesn’t even touch how he put up 55 points on the top line for Jared Cowen money. Came into the season as a top 6 fill-in and left as a top 3 stud. Speaking of Cowen…can he and MacArthur please trade contracts? Only shitty part of his season that is they didn’t sign him for longer.
Bobby Ryan A Came here with the expectation of a 30 goal season. The guy nearly did it injured. Shows a lot about the player he is to try to ride it out hurt knowing the criticism he’d face if he dropped out of his debut season halfway through. What I take away from this season is that Bobby Ryan is even better than I expected. I thought he’d primarily be a dangler from the highlight reel on YouTube. He’s that for sure but he’s also a one of the few players with a shot so deadly they can beat an NHL goaltender from above the circle. He’s more of a playmaker than I expected and is decent along the boards too. Criticisms about his weight and skating ended up being a bunch of inconsequential bologna to me. If 23 goals in 70 games is a down season I say commit to the guy long term.
Ales Hemsky A Short sample but damn what a year to miss the playoffs. I loved what I saw. Crazy to see him gel instantly with both Spezza and Zibanejad and the Ottawa Senators as a whole for that matter. Blinding speed and magic hands, Hemsky gave flashes of the Marian Hossa swag of old. Scary that he got banged up even in his brief stint here but I’d take a chance. I’m crossing my fingers that he might like that he just parachuted onto a new team and put up 17 points in 20 games after some tough years in Edmonton. Still though, the New York Rangers almost have like 20 billion dollars in cap space for some goddamn reason. Regardless, couldn’t have asked for more from a deadline signing.
Milan Michalek B- You know you’ve had injury woes when part of the reason for making a B grade is that you played the whole season. I like Milo. He, like his defensive game, gets little credit for contribution to the club. Not since Hossa has there been a Sens player who’s put up 35 goals in a season for the team that will be given little to no fanfare on their way out of town. In fairness to the fan indifference toward 9MM, he’s been more of a Foligno than a Hossa during his time here. In fairness to Milo’s output the word “knee” appears on the injury section of his TSN page 12 times (research!). Even gutting his pay by half still seems risky to me. Good luck in future endeavours and thanks for being a bright spot in that Heatley deal.
Mika Zibanejad B Remember how Ziba “didn’t make the team” out of training camp? Good times? Great times. It’s worth nothing (thanks for reading!) but his 7 points in 6 games down in Bingo reminded me a little of the oft forgotten “Brief Karlsson Reassignment of ‘09” (“I survived” t shirt / mug available at out online store!) where EK was sent down and put up 11 points in 12 games and then the team realized the could probably use his help. What was I saying again? Oh yeah, I think that demotion probably helped Karlsson go point per game in the playoffs that year.
No, I love what Ziba brings to the table. Speed, a great shot, vision and impressive strength. What’s perhaps most intriguing about Mika’s year is how he was probably the most victimized by the coach’s tiresome line shuffling. Top 6, bottom 6, centre, wing, backup goaltender, deputy food and beverage coordinator. The kid made it work. Never the less, his numbers are promising but were still in the strata that would disappoint many if it was Nick Foligno putting them up. DJ Z-Bad still has a “new in town” vibe giving him a bit of wiggle room. Even if he becomes a steady second line player and his production continues to increase it should be interesting how he will be viewed. It’s a tough gig. Foligno put up 47 one season here and could barely win fans favour but Mike Fisher put up numbers like that in a good season here and was Admiral Supreme Space Jesus of the Fantastic Year 3000. With handsomeness on his side I am optimistic.
Offseason regimen: Less time on the wheels of steel more time booking appointments with whatever concussion doctor fixed Sidney Crosby.
Zack Smith C+ I like Zack Smith but my boy’s gotta chill hard on the penalties. The art of drawing penalties seemed a lost one on the team this season with Z Smith and his fellow expert penaltiesman Chris Neil having far, far more infractions called against them than they drew. I respect that with the type of game that players like Smith are expected to play that PIMs are just part of the job but the way it went down this year put our weak defence on the PK more often than was fair and put way, way too much pressure on the goaltending. He’s still a good penalty killer and face off man, also possesses an underrated shot that he can credit his impressive 13 goals to. He had his second most productive season this year. To me Z is a decent 3rd line centre but what I’d love to see is someone emerge and bump Zack down in the line up. I think he would be a killer 4th line pivot.
Colin Greening D You can always tell a Millford man. Bad year, worse contract. Dat contract tho. Prove me wrong Colin Greening…Prooove meeee wrong.
Erik Condra A Erik Condra scored on a fucking breakaway this season.
Chris Neil D+ Zack Smith takes a lot of penalties. Chris Neil took 100 FUCKING MORE MINUTES IN PENALTIES THAN HIM! 100! Get the fuck outta here. I know this guy is a fan favorite and I actually do agree with the argument that he is a lot better at his role than many others who perform it but I think Neil’s got to adjust his game at this point. It was clear as day to me that if he had any cred with the refs to begin with, it’s gone. If he’s supposed to be such a leader could he not clean it up when the team is down? My biggest complaint is his focus. So many offsides. He’s a pretty quick skater but he ain’t that goddamn quick. Willing to stand in front and screen the goaltender. Something I’ll always respect but if he’s going to wear an A, I have to say he often hurt the team more than he helped. Often got absolutely shredded defending, a part of his game that’s he’s rarely criticized for, for some reason. Brass tacks, his job is “walking the line” and he did not do that effectively this season.
Mark Stone B+ Despite getting hurt more than Evel Knievel, Stone managed to make another jump in his development. He was pretty quiet during his first call up and, yes, got injured, had a tear of a season in Binghamton and earned his way back up where he did quite well filling in for Bobby Ryan. With the amount of snipers on the Senators, I really like that Stone seems adept at burying rebounds in close (Greening take note!). 8 points in 19 games is pretty good especially considering he got zero last year.
Though he could potentially find a niche as a garbage goal king (always welcome in the playoffs) the fact that he put up 190 assists in 222 games in junior and another 49 in his 91 games in Bingo, tells me there’s a whole other dimension to his game yet to be fully revealed. After all, his first impression with the team was a beautiful feed to Spezza and he showed a lot of playmaking smarts during his pretty limited call up this season. He seems to get more and more confident the more time he gets to adjust to the NHL. His performance toward the end of the season and the club’s weakness on the right side, I think, gives him a real chance of making the big club outright next season. I hope he does.
Mike Hoffman B First off, shout out to how Brometheus here played over a 1/4 of an NHL season and still led the Bingo Sens, a team that can put the puck in the net btw, by 9 points. The more I see of the Hoff the more I like him. He certainly has a lot of great tools. His skating is out of this world…I mean, Bubby, the skating on this boychik, oy, you should know from this speed. All I would like to see before I’m ready to give him the Mark Stone treatment is a little more offense. For a guy who can manage to register a ton of shots it’s not an unreasonable expectation. The way he’s being used out there shows that he’s not exactly being groomed to kill penalties. Nor should he be, as Bingo’s offensive leader. He still has a fair amount of work ahead to prove that he can bring that kind of game he’s displayed in the AHL to the NHL level but all in all a very promising season. Look for him to destroy in the preseason.
Stephane DaCosta B What I like about DaCosta is that he straight up refuses to go away. He doesn’t have that fan favourite swag of Pageau, he doesn’t have the pedigree of other prospects like Lazar and Puempel but he just keeps making it interesting. They tell him to get bigger in the off season, he does. They send him back down to the AHL and tell him to be productive; he does and earns his way back up. He made the team over Zibanejad to start the season but that kind of felt like it was more about Zibanejad than DaCosta. What’s most interesting to me is that he seemed to pretty thoroughly outshine his closest competitor in Jean Gabriel Pageau. I admit, after JGP’s end of season call up and astonishing playoff performance I thought “well, that’s the end of DaCosta.” But this season DaCosta managed to put up more points in less than half the games and in similar ice time to Pager; Including a multi-goal game and a huge shootout tally against the Blues. Of course, JGP’s defensive abilities and different usage skews the numbers game but still I appreciate a nice little “Hateurs a la gauche” season from Stephane.
Matt Kassian KO’ed Without opening up the fighting debate, I think we can agree Kassian was awful. His job is fighting and deterring something something right? K.
1. Don’t particularly feel like he deterred shit from happening. 2. I don’t think he decisively won many fights.
Also, if you’re going to take a spot on the roster uhhh be remotely good at something else other than fighting AND NO TWITTER DOESN’T COUNT. Kassian made me really miss Konopka. Remember how Zenon would take a faceoff, win it and skate right to the bench? That was pretty badass. Turns out being good at more than one thing is extremely useful to a professional hockey club. At that same game I went to against the Flames that I spoke of earlier (8 million words ago) in Spezza’s bit, with the Sens down by 1, Kassian sought to spark his team by challenging Kevin Westgarth to a scintillating draw of a bout at centre ice. Problem? Erik Karlsson had just gained the Calgary zone at full speed. You’re fired. Let the meal ticket do his work, meat hands. Best news of the off season so far was hearing from Murray that he wouldn’t be back. At least Matt Carkner could take a the odd shift.
Derek Grant B- Derek was a pleasant student to teach. Have a great summer!
Jean Gabriel Pageau B- Okay, so sports ain’t no storybook, this much is clear. After his amazing playoff performance I was poised to pull on a Pageau jersey. Local underdog silences asshole-heavy Habs mob, elicits mocking chant? Now that’s a player I can get behind.
Unfortunately, Pager had a bit of a lacklustre season in the bigs. I mean, I don’t think anyone’s ever said, “What a horrible effort by Pageau.” He was fine. Derek Grant fine. Not what I was expecting exactly but it’s not entirely his fault. I find his defensive prowess is a blessing and a curse as it gets him a lot of bottom line duty. He doesn’t quite get the “top 6 or bust” looks that some of his contemporaries get. If Spezza is indeed dealt this summer I cannot wait to see the competition between him, DaCosta and possibly even Lazar at camp. Don’t expect to JGP to stick around Bingo. Every time he gets sent down to the AHL he has a “graduated past play at this level” vibe to him. Definitely a good thing.