(Content warning: 12&13 discuss Patrick Kane, domestic violence and sexual assault)
- Matt Puempel was sent down today and joined the BSens. It’s hard to say that it was a move necessary to get Puempel additional playing time as he’s been consistently in the lineup and played decent minutes. It makes more sense that he was sent down because he hasn’t done much when in the lineup. Maybe Ottawa wants to bring up another winger from Bingo or something or get a different look at someone else. It’s clear that Puempel hasn’t made the most of his opportunities.
- Why was Puempel a fixture in the lineup for so long if he wasn’t exactly noticeable? He’s essentially hipster Curtis Lazar. Puempel’s smiley, plays a two-way game, is responsible on the ice, and has been given leadership responsibilities in rookie tournaments and pre-season. The essence of coachable. Oh, and a first rounder too.
- It’s not that I think Shane Prince isn’t coachable, but it’s not a stretch to suggest the organization isn’t enamored with him (that rumoured trade request out of Bingo probably doesn’t help). Think some of it is just style of play though. Last season Mark Stone was a darling and Mike Hoffman was inexplicably dropped down the lineup. The rational was Hoffman’s defensive awareness or lack of it and the preference for the two-way Stone suggests there are some rookies Dave Cameron and co are more comfortable playing.
- Now, I don’t think there’s anything in Prince’s game to suggest he shouldn’t be playing and he’s at least been better than 25, 15, 90, and 27 when he’s been in the lineup. Prince even made the fourth line look good when he played with them. He’s absolutely someone who can help this team and with the various top-6 vacancies (McArthur, Stone, and Hoffman) is someone who can actually keep up as part of the top 6. However, he’s an offense-first type of player and given his inexperience at the NHL level, I’m not shocked he’s been kept out of the lineup. I think it’s the wrong move, but think that’s what’s going on here. Cameron has questions about his defensive game so he sits.
- Craig Anderson needed to be better. And he is. Andy is a zone right now and that’s a good thing because Ottawa’s defense is still porous.
- Excited to watch Ottawa play the Stars this week. I still have some questions about Dallas, but watching that high-powered offense play Ottawa’s defense should be…interesting. Good thing Andy is playing better.
- Mike Kotska was called up after the unfortunate injury to Patrick Wiercioch. I don’t follow the BSens closely so what follows might be complete crap, but it seems like the right move regardless of whether he plays or sits in the press box. He’s a vet with ample NHL experience for a call-up (70 games) and he’s used to splitting time between the AHL, NHL, and press box. His development isn’t going to be harmed if he sits out a few weeks and it’s hard to imagine he’d produce worse results than some of the combos the Sens have put out there this season.
- It’s got to sting if you’re Freddie Claesson though. He’s been in Bingo for a while now (it’s his fourth season with the BSens) without a sniff of NHL action. He’s a left-shooting defenseman and the Sens, like most teams, have a glut of those. He doesn’t have the offensive upside of guys like Wideman or Wiercioch or the size of someone like Cowen. He feels like someone who’s not really in the organization’s long term plans.
- Ottawa’s fourth line had a really good game against Columbus. However, Ottawa’s bottom 6 hasn’t been as good this season as they were to finish the season in 14-15. There’s only so much you can do with that fourth line that must include Chris Neil and Zack Smith. Where it’s really hurting is on the third line. I think Michalek is having a decent year, but Pageau has slowed from his start and Curtis Lazar is still young I guess. During the run last season, Ottawa was a great three-line team and they need to get back to that.
- Jared Cowen physically contained a slumping Voracek last night with a couple big hits which is an achievement for Cowen. But it reminded me of a lot of other “Cowen back in the lineup” games. Remember when he came back from injury against Carolina, had a big hit on Jeff Skinner and a fight? He makes a big physical statement then the physicality just sort of goes away, he doesn’t use his size effectively in his own end, and just reminds you of the old Cowen pretty quickly. It’s because Cowen doesn’t get so much of what’s going on around him and rejects the valid criticisms of his game. It’s an adrenaline rush, not an actual adjustment.
- Don’t love Garry Galley in the booth. He celebrates a lot of things about hockey I don’t like. He was big on praising Cowen last night but failed to emphasize miscues like giveaways and failed zone exits. That’s not a criticism specific to Galley, lots of analysts don’t notice or comment on this stuff in real time. I get that it’s hard, but it’s also their job and just leads to more interesting and useful analysis.
- Speaking of commentators, Nick Kypreos made some pretty offensive comments regarding Patrick Kane during Saturday night’s Chicago-Vancouver game. Kypreos was referring to Kane’s offensive totals this season when he said Kane “wants to shove it down peoples’ throats”. It’s a totally inappropriate phrase given the rape investigation surrounding Kane to start the season but it highlights larger issues in the hockey broadcasting community. For starters, those who go on TV to discuss NHL hockey on regional or national networks need more training for how to discuss topics such as domestic violence and sexual assault professionally and respectfully. Unfortunately, such incidents aren’t going away and it’s thankfully getting harder and harder for mainstream media to just ignore these cases. Do your job and do it better.
- But it also illustrates what too many in the broadcasting community believe: that assault victims lie and the true victim is Kane in this specific case. I’m sure networks like Sportsnet are telling their employees not to discuss certain things about Kane’s rape investigation. But if employees like Kypreos really believed domestic violence and sexual assault are serious crimes and that victims (not just perpetrators) need to be treated fairly, they’d take steps to ensure they talk about assault and rape investigations differently. If they really stood with victims, with women, the unscripted parts of Hockey Night in Canada or weekly intermission panels wouldn’t refer to Kane shoving anything, they wouldn’t use language that suggests consent is optional. They wouldn’t use chicken shit terms like “incident” to describe violence and rape or talk about players like Kane overcoming “adversity”. But that’s what they do. If TV’s hockey experts didn’t think all women were liars, they wouldn’t frame excellence on ice as proof of Kane’s innocence off ice. But that’s what they do and that’s what Kypreos did last night. It matters not to pundits like Kypreos that Kane was on pace to win the Art Ross last season before his injury; that he’s contending to do so this year justifies all of Kane’s actions, Chicago’s gross incompetence and revolting behaviour, and the league’s continued negligence.