The Shit List is Back

If you haven’t had a chance to see the following video, courtesy of Travis Yost, it’s as good a place as any to start:

Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezus.

Yost ably breaks it down, but it’s about what you’d expect: a greatest hits of Senators duds for the season.

Chris Neil, fresh back in the lineup after a glorious few games off with a lower body injury (in which Ottawa won most of its games – post hoc ergo propter hoc?) is his usual self, which is to say a total disaster. I’ll say it again: for a guy who takes more penalties than he draws, can’t drive possession, and doesn’t put up points, if you’re not setting an example by working hard, then why are you even out there?

Jared Cowen continues to steer like a battleship and, somehow, lose his stick about 45% of the time. Someone needs to develop a metric for amount of time spent playing without a stick. Cowen has to be top ten in the league at this point.

Greening shouldn’t have to show offensive upside to justify his presence on this team. His value should start with plugging and anything extra is gravy. But he continues to demonstrate that in the absence of scoring, these occasional gaffes and lost battles start to weigh the team down; you feel like there’s nothing balancing out the negative side of the ledger.

Lehner, haven not been given a chance to play in weeks, is thrown to the wolves for a midday game, and looked awful. Unlike Anderson, he’ll probably not receive any benefit of the doubt and a start next game. Like most of us, he’s probably just looking ahead to next season.

The result: the Carolina Hurricanes – the 20th best team in the league and 23rd in the league in team possession – make the Ottawa Senators look like an OHL team. This was a painful game to watch.

Ultimately, I’m fine with players having down seasons. It happens. The key is to recognize the underlying value of the player, adapt their ice time and zone starts to account for their tough go, not overreact and give away the farm in an attempt to salvage the season, and just work away at it. The very good teams have the depth to plug those holes. Ottawa doesn’t. But it can limit exposure to, at least, those players who continuously demonstrate themselves to be possession black holes and defensive liabilities. When, week after week, month after month, the same players are sent over the boards to make the same mistakes…the seasons starts to become a bit of a grind. When Bobby Ryan gets 16 minutes of ice time and Milan Michalek gets 17, or Chris Neil is a “core” player, well, you start to wonder.

I don’t mind MacLean giving Anderson and Spezza the time they need to recover, because they have a ceiling the other players don’t. On a poor team without a lot of depth, you have to get these guys going if you’re going to compete. But there doesn’t seem to be much excuse for using Jared Cowen as a first pairing defensemen at this point in the season, even if his numbers have recovered somewhat. There doesn’t seem to be much excuse to bury Methot on the depth chart, or scratch Wiercioch so much.

And there really, really isn’t any excuse at all to be playing Chris Neil, a complete boat anchor in terms of everything except, we’re told, intangibles.

At this point in the season, the number of players who you have to think Ottawa would be glad to get any return for is growing. My own personal Shit List, in descending order of least favorite players, and keeping their contract cost in mind, is: Neil, Michalek, Greening, Phillips, Cowen, Spezza, Concacher. For those first three, at the deadline I’d be happy to see Ottawa get anything back, from replacement level NHL players to picks to longshot prospects.

2 thoughts on “The Shit List is Back

  1. Oy these afternoon games! It’s just getting beyond weird. When the schedule first came out and I saw that they’d be playing a matinee game pretty much every other week, I recoiled thinking, “Uh oh not exactly the Sens strong suit, this could get ugly.” But by ugly I was thinking in the neighbourhood of losing as many as we win…not like uhhh…losing all of them. How has Ottawa not learned to take advantage of playing in the afternoon at this point? I have no doubt they have to do it more than any other team this season, I am completely perplexed why they aren’t at a huge advantage when playing in the afternoon considering they’ve been doing it routinely for a half the season now. They played 2 hours earlier on Saturday and looked two hours worse. This to me couples with their their rough home record. It’s things like, “not getting up for afternoon games, easy to play against in their own building” that really plants a seed of doubt that they could even do anything with a playoff spot. I’m obviously rooting FOR a playoff spot but woof, these guys could start rising to the occasion and meeting some of these regular season challenges, you know, whenever.
    “The shift” video is umm…hmmm…funny(?), but seeing the team bumbling around to yakitty sax doesn’t take away from how that that was the worst game I’ve personally seen Lehner play. Even the goal on that video shows the kind of day he was having. Sure the team was were like chickens with their heads chopped off but he was flat out beat one on one (with time!) there and was perfectly square with Nash. As backup I don’t know if he was really thrown to the wolves there either. Those are the kind of games backups get. To work with the theme dude did not rise to the challenge. To me that was not the respectable “Lehner makes 50 saves in losing effort against ” that makes up a considerable part of his poor record. That was him putting them down by 3 early and looking wobbly doing it. It was refreshing to hear him take such ownership for the loss (even if it wasn’t his fault completely) but not something I want to get used to hearing. Anyway, these stinkers happen (a lot this year!) it’s the kind of game you’ve got to move on from quickly as possible. Venting complete.
    I’m Bart Simpson *shuffles papers*

  2. Argh, I think Greening’s being used completely incorrectly at this point, considering MacLean decided to put him back on Spezza’s wing. His ceiling is nowhere near top-line winger, and I think maybe the only thing that could save him is putting him next to Smith and Condra on a checking line without any kind of scoring/possession expectations. As for Cowen… can we please please please scratch him? Like, semi-permanently? I want Wiercioch back into the line-up stat because there’s no way he’s worse than #2 at this point. Like you said, seems pointless to bury Methot on the depth chart when he could easily replace Cowen.

    And when the time comes for the Sens to roll a consistent line-up sans enforcer, MY BODY WILL BE READY FOR ALL THE WINS. Sigh. Neil, please get (non-fatally) injured again.

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