4 Things I’m Hmmmm Not So Much Looking Forward To This Season

Service. Selection. VALUE.

Service. Selection. VALUE. Fucking guy has gotten a million dollar raise every year. Who is this guy’s agent, Chris Phillips?

Wait For It…Wait For It…….*closes eyes, bites lip* Jared “JC” Cowen:
For all the “Murray loves his big boys afja;lskdjf ;fdsjbf;lksg kjhsfdgl s” endless trope, the fact I can’t ignore is that Murray just will not (cannot?) trade him and keeps going back to saying that Cowen’s been injured/recovering from injury for years and is finally healthy and will show his true ability this season. As you know, you gotta hear both sides and though he is far from my favorite player, I have to admit, Cowen’s injury troubles have coincided almost perfectly with the exaaaaaaaaact moment since we all started hating him.
It’s also undeniable that the injuries he’s suffered have been pretty significant. It’s at least feasible that he might have been well enough to play last year but only enough to perform as a shadow of the potential guy we say a couple years ago.
Before he even made it to the NHL, Cowen had reconstructive knee surgery and followed it with a quiet World Junior tournament and many people, including myself, were super low on him. Over time he got back to normal and came out the gate pretty strong as a rookie in Ottawa.
I remember the word out of Binghamton right before the hip labarum thing was that he was mercilessly pancaking everyone in sight. That he was looking quick, solid and strong; on the fast track to take the next step in his development. Then we fast forward through the awful hip thing and then this hernia thing. I can’t deny his mobility went from a non issue to a major one following those injuries. He’s come back from a major set back in the past. He is still quite young and could potentially do it again.
So, on one hand I’m thinking, it’s at least arguable that he’s not as bad as he’s been but on the OTHER I’m like, “Son gets injured…severely…a lot.” Alllllso, that season with all the potential spoken of earlier is getting pretty far in the rear view.
I’m not the first to say this but this is the last chance for JC to show and prove. But here’s the rub –Oh I’m sorry, you thought the rub already happened…nah Boo Boo, peep rub game: Even if Jared Cowen does bounce back, which again, I’m not ruling out, I think he’s going to top out as a 3rd pairing guy.
*Movie trailer voice* From the teaaaaaaam that brought you Eric Gryyyyba…comes….
                              Eric Gryba 2: Return of the More Expensive Gryba.
Where I’m at: I hope Cowen is at best a slightly better version of Gryba. It is very hard to  imagine him surpassing Wiercioch who outperformed him by a country mile last year in about as many games. That and Patty had a breakout performance in the playoffs instead of you know, being scratched the entire playoffs. So by this thinking, this bus stops at 3rd pairing on the left side.
So spoiler here: Even best case scenario we’re never going to be happy with him as he will always seems like a disappointment because of his pedigree and price tag. Oh, speaking of which and I don’t know about the last chance stuff I mentioned earlier. Believe the trade rumor chatter about him if you want (no one does) but this guy’s been pretty awful for a minute and stands to make 4,500,000 human dollars NEXT year. Yep, more than now ($3.7M). Another raise of nearly one million in as many years. He will make 400K less than Marc Methot next season. He aint going nowhere except maybe Binghamton. The only trade I could even entertain happening is one for a different kind of Cowen. Like Greenzo, he just makes too much for too long to trade him. We’re stuck with this guy. I guess we live in a world where Columbus managed to move Nathan Horton but in the mean time y’all are better off to pray with me that Jared Cowen is a decent 3rd pairing D man and not…nothing.

Cameron Gunna Do Some Stuff With the Lineup That’s Gonna Have Fans WILD Frustrated
I’m certainly not the first person to bring it up but even though he was pretty real talk about benching some players, DC did have the luxury of having some of the less skilled players on the injured reserve through most or all of the Sens glorious run to the playoffs. Smith, Cowen, Neil and Phillips were all out for the stretch run. MacArthur’s top six spot was up for grabs. Hell, he didnt even have to deal with the Anderson vs. Lehner politics through it. It’s undeniable that he even had a bit of that, “Whoa, where do you think you’re goin’ Neiler…can’t mess up this mojo” leeway going for him once players did get healthy again.
With the exception of Phillips, going into this season, he won’t have it that easy.
I am realistic to the idea that Chris Neil, who in addition to drawing ever nearer to the 1000 game milestone, will be playing for his very career this year and as such will draw into several games. Zack Smith is going to be given his chances too. In the case of Smith, it’s not all bad. My advice is to be patient. I think he will be given the Greening trade showcase special. Oh btw, don’t rule out some games for Greening again. Unlike Greening, however, I think Smith is one of the most tradeable bottom 6 players on the team. Smith is not as bad his 3 points in …38 games *gets very dizzy* indicates and his contract is excellent. Smith had a really rough start to last year adjusting to wing and he couldn’t bounce back from that horrible sounding wrist injury. Have you ever hurt your wrist? It’s gross. The shit takes like a YEAR to feel normal again. Anyway, he’s got over 300 games for the Sens, he’s going to be in the starting line up. At just $1.8M for a big, tough 4th line centre who’s had a 13 and 14 goal seasons, expect him to get moved at the deadline. Try not to lose your shit too much when he’s getting looks, guys like Smith are catnip for GMs. I all but guarantee he’ll be moved.
*Skips talking about Jared Cowen more*
Rookies like Shane Prince and Chris Wideman may not make it into every game either. I want them to get their shot as much as the next person but a gradual intro is how it often seems to go for rookies. From Mark Stone to Patrick Wiercioch to Erik Condra (god bless), most promising players coming up from the minors tend to get spot duty rather than just thrown into the shit full time. I’m not super stoked on it as being patient with development is not my strong suit (Me want Thomas Chabot NOW dammit) but I’m bracing myself for Shane Prince to potentially splitting some time with *30 second exhale through nose* Colin Greening. Wideman will have it even tougher with zero NHL games experience and 6 defenders ahead of him on the current depth chart. Lest we forget Chris Phillips shooting up adamantium in the shadows. Ugh, who knows what that will look like if Big Rig deems himself fit to play. Cross that bridge when we get there I guess. Heyyyyy at least the guys on the edge of roster are still exciting, skilled players.

Is “Bobby Ryan Needs to Score 30 Goals” the New “Jason Spezza Not a Good Baaackchecker Thooo”?
No, Bobby Ryan did not score as many goals as he was expected to last season. He went into a near quarter season slump (he also carried the team offensively for a couple of months as well but ima let this point cook for a minute).
Okay. I, like all fans, hope this guy has the best year of his career and everythink like that (thumbs up). I just also hope we can find it in ourselves to not treat this guy like he’s a disaster if he scores like 28 (or fewer) goals. I will TAKE him putting up betwixt 20 and 30 goals, especially if he’s playing well all around.
There’s no question that Ryan is a talented goal scorer. I understand that’s why The Bryan made a big play for him. It’s been his job his whole career. I just can’t get it out of the back of my head that when he put up a career high of 35 biscuits back in 2009-10, he was playing with Cup Winner/Olympian shlubs like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf posted an incredible 50 assists in just 66 games the 09/10 season. Perry had 49 helpers. That’s just two players dishing out 99 goals right there.
The following season, when Bobby Raw put up 34 goals, Perry and Getzlaf combined for 105 helpers. Getzlaf had 57 assists for 76 points in ONLY 67 games (soft). Perry en route to a Rocket Richard & Hart Trophy (selfish) dropped down to a pathetic 48 assists.  Good thing Tea-Moo Salami (of future First Ballot Hall of Fame fame) was there to pick up the slack with his 49 assists. Jesus, while were at it can we talk about how Lubomir Visnovsky (person) dropped 18 goals and 50 assists on some lowkey Erik Karlsson shit? How the fuck did these dickheads not win the Cup? OH, they got bounced in the 1st round you say? …man, I need to relax about losing to Pittsburgh as a low seed all those times. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, what I have tried to outline here is Ryan played with some dudes who could put up some POOOOIIIINTS in Anaheim.
Perspective: Norris trophy winner, Erik Karlsson would have been 6th in scoring on that 2010 team just behind Visnovsky. FML. King Karl has led Ottawa in points the past two years he’s been healthy. He’s a defenseman. An all-world one…but a defenseman. Different Teams. Different Needs.
After the departure of Spezza with the exception of Karlsson, Turris and Stone (who just became a thing like 45 minutes ago), this team is not overloaded with elite playmakers like those Ducks teams were. Only Karlsson is on a comparable level. All this to say, on this Senators team Ryan is going to be relied upon to set his linemates up about as much as he is to put the puck in the net. It’s likely to come at the cost of some goals. His 36 assists last year could be indicative of that. That may not seem like a ton but it’s the second highest total of his career.
Real Talk Korner: Even if Bobby didn’t have that extended dry spell, I’m still not entirely sure he’d have hit the coveted 30 goal plateau. Going into this season, if he doesn’t have a slump I think a 25 goal, 65 point campaign is about what you should probably expect. If he’s making his teammates better, that’s not the worst thing in the world.

Ohhhh The “Schedule” Look at our Fancy Aristocratic Friend With His SCHEDULE! Ha! What’s that? What Do I Call It? A Game Quilt.
I’ma come CLEAN about the schedule. Like with referees or an opposing team’s broadcast play by play, for whatever reason I am always on some serious hater shit. I’m a tough audience, I admit it. I know this because every year the schedule is released I am bummed out about it. I don’t even know if it’s better or worse than other teams. WHO HAS TIME TO FIND OUT ANYTHING IN THIS WORK A DAY WORLD!? Again, I don’t know how it shakes out in comparison to others but there are a couple of things that I think are objectively rough about this year’s table.

First item of concern is that throughout the season, the Sens will play 28 games back to back (or 14 back to backs if you want to be a complete D about it). After his historic run of wins last season HAS ANYONE MENTIONED THIS RUN YET? back up goaltender Andrew Hammond will certainly get his share of starts based on the back to back games alone. Anderson loves the lion’s share of starts but he’s not exactly known for his durability either. More concern! You’re welcome 🙂 Even though he seems content with his role as back up there will still be there will be a ton of pressure on Hammond to perform.
Like Robin Lehner before him, Hammy isn’t really an ordinary back up. Every time Lehner would get a start it would never have the feel of your average Alex Auld start against whatever visiting team in the midst of a long road trip. With Lehner every start would always have this air of “This is Lehner’s Big Chance at stealing the starting job from Anderson!” Not saying it will be that with Hammond but after the unicorn that was last season, I anticipate many of Hammond’s opportunities will have a “Is this guy the real deal? Did he deserve a 3 year(!) contract?” vibe surrounding them. Me? I’m pretty confident that Hammond is Curtis McElhinney good. I guess the 4 back to backs in the first two months and a sprinkling of additional starts we will start to find out early. I really hope he gets off to a solid start.

Next up, DAT DECEMBER THO.
I’m just going to post this nightmarish image to speak for itself:

Game Quilt

What no west coast away game at high altitude against Colorado on Christmas eve at 4am? Lazy!

Let’s break it on down: We come in calienté with a home game against Philly. Not too bad, fine with that…Oh, then for the next four fucking weeks it’s relentlessly one day on, one day off (what is this baseball?) but don’t worry the entire second week is a road trip. Luckily, the Sens only have to face the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, Presidents Trophy winning Rangers, Cup finalist Lightning (only twice, so it’s all good. Stamkos is in a contract year so…) and the only shitty by Western Conference standards Kings and Sharks. Toss in the Islanders, Habs and Caps just to make it zesty. They then get a luxurious four days off, two of which workers must have off BY LAW in this country. Then cap it off with a cozy little home and home with the Bruins that is glued to a back to back (theme) against the Devils. I would imagine the boys will celebrate New Year’s Eve by sleeping for the next 36 hours.

Last season, Paul MacLean was given the axe on December 8th. The month was obviously used by Bryan Murray as a fulcrum point to decide where his team was at. This year Cameron wont likely be under nearly as dire a situation but will have a razor thin margin of error for how he rests and uses his troops. He’s worked under a ton of pressure already in his young career as a head coach but regardless this is going to be a massive month in terms of how his sophomore season as coach goes.

Eh….Go Ativan Go, I mean, Sens!

Feeling like you’re getting an ulcer? Purify yourself in the waters of Lake Part One of This Series That is Far More Positive here.

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