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.

15. Thanks for reading!!

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

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The Kinds of Senators Fans in the Missed 2014 Playoffs In…Writing Form?

What’s this? A PuckPossessed post that ISN’T crude stick figure drawings and swear words? What to heck? Okay, just go with me on this-also, there will still be a lot of swear words. Since the Senators were eliminated from playoff contention, I’ve noticed a few trends in the reactions of Sens fans with a few themes throughout (one being alcohol, another being sadness-write what you know right?). In this post I’ll be going over the positions I’ve seen Sens fans take in the playoffs.

The #TeamAlfie fans:
Relevant to your interests:
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Now if I were some sort of human with good timing and responsibility who wrote this at the BEGINNING of round 1, this would make a lot more sense to include. Well TOO BAD, MY FRIENDS. The #TeamAlfie crowd obviously supported the Detroit Red Wings because they wanted to see our former sort-of-fearless leader get the cup (also the extra money but haha let’s not talk about that shit anymore please) for which he left us. *a small amount of sobbing ensues at WTYKY headquarters* Ahem. Shut up. These kinds of fans seemed to find it easy to cheer for Detroit (despite the team being a rival) not only because of Alfie, but also because of the MASSIVE FUCKING AMOUNT OF SWEDES on the team. Hey, Kronwall is sort of a combination of Methot and Karlsson, and Henrik Zetterberg has got a really huge beard so that’s something, right? Sens fans seemed to be divided on the Alfie playoff problem with half wanting something good to come of him leaving the Sens and the other half not wanting him to be rewarded for it. Plus, Sens fans seem to hate the Bruins…like a lot. Which is a good segue to-

Bruins bandwagoners:
A small group during the first round which has grown for the start of the second round, Bruins bandwagoners seem to made up of: those who have always favoured the Bruins after the Sens (like me), those who really hate the Habs (also me), and those who just hate the Bruins less than the rest of the options left in the East. If I may quote myself:
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Cheering for the Bruins after the mess that was the Sens 2013-2014 season is refreshing because come on…the Sens were a diddly darn fucking mess and the Bruins are just so…damn…good. Having a few former Sens on the Bruins also makes for a nice easy transition to cheering for the villains of the East.

“The Only Canadian Team Left” bandwagoners:
Habs fans…excuse me *takes six shots of Jack Daniels to steel self to talk about the Habs*. Ahem. Habs bandwagon Sens fans are made up of those weirdos fans who like both the Sens and Habs, but also those who think it’s their duty as Canadians to support the only Canadian team left. The fact that the Avalanche and Sharks both have more Canadian players than the Habs notwithstanding, I sort of understand the desire to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993 when the Habs defeated the L.A. Kings for the title. Sort of. Then again, it’s the motherfucking Habs and I feel the same way about them as other Sens fans feel about the Bruins-I just CAN’T MAKE MYSELF LIKE THEM.

The “Ottawa of the West” fans (San Jose Sharks Bandwagoners):
Step 1: Find team that plays a very similar game to the Senators
Step 2: Feel a little bit like you’re cheating on the Sens with their twin brother
Step 3: Don’t really care that much though because you’re still brokenhearted about the Senators
Step 4: Drink a lot. Do this step anyway, but especially if you’re a Sharks bandwagoner.

Columbus Blue Jackets Bandwagoners:
Again, if I had been prompt this would have made a lot more sense. It seems like a lot of Sens fans, and fans of other teams that didn’t make the playoffs, picked Columbus because they were the least offensive option. Their twitter banter makes them easy to like, and who doesn’t love an underdog (well, Pittsburgh didn’t but LET’S NOT DISCUSS THAT). Cheering for the Blue Jackets was easy with little to no feelings of self-loathing because come on, it’s the Blue Jackets, let them have their second playoff run in history, god, you ruin everything.

The “Pick a Player You Really Like and Cheer for Whatever Team He’s On” Bandwagoners:
This seems to be the case with a lot of people with soft spots for guys like Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Teemu Selanne, Jakob Silfverberg, and Sidney Crosby [Ed note: Sorry about the strikethrough, Cosby’s just not believable like the other options]. It’s a bandwagon, friends, I’m not going to judge you for just picking a player you like and cheering half-heartedly for his team to win. Hey, you could even learn the names of some of the other players on that team, you know, if you felt like it. But you’re a smart, strong, sensual [insert gender here], so u do u.

The “Fuck it All” fans:
The subtitle of this category being the “Fuck This, Fuck That, Fuck You” Sens fans in playoffs. This category is made up of people who don’t want to bother picking a playoff team to support, who just don’t care about anyone other than the Senators, and who are just waiting for the playoffs to be over at this point. There’s a lot of alcohol associated with this category, a lot of tears, and a lot of not wearing your Sens stuff to the grocery store because you don’t want to get chirped by the Penguins fan cashier who wears a Pittsburgh pin on her shirt even though it’s not ALLOWED IN THE DRESS CODE, DOROTHY, YOU JERK, SHUT UP ABOUT SIDNEY CROSBY [Ed note: (sic) Cosby], JUST BAG MY GREEN BEANS AND LEAVE ME ALONE.

No matter your method of coping with the lack of the Senators in the playoffs, I won’t judge you (unless you’re cheering for the Habs, in which case I’ll judge you a little). Healing from the trauma that was this Senators season will be a lengthy process (just buy a 40 of tequila now and save yourself trips to the LCBO in the next few weeks, trust me). Whether you’re cheering for a team or not, these playoffs are exciting as heck, and I hope you’re enjoying them as much as you can. Just don’t think about the Sens. Don’t do it.

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

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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.

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.

Your Monday Morning Mirtazapine

Hey how’s everyone’s emotions out there? Emotional? Great.
Let’s sit down and talk like we used to…c’mon <insert your name>…we used to be pals!

It’s been rough going to watch our favorite squadron get their asses handed to them afternoon after afternoon (seriously, with these afternoon games). It’s one thing when you root for say, the Buffalo Sabres or the New Jersey Devils and you’re watching them struggle. Both of those teams are witnessing an ongoing exodus of their best players and are each pretty much in an admitted beginning state of rebuild….though I don’t exactly knwo what the Sabres are building from…another rebuild? Anyway, we’ve been there for the “buckle up, this is going to be a long year” stuff ourselves. Past tense.
After two consecutive playoff appearances, some trades and FA signings I don’t think I was alone in thinking the rebuild was maybe not yet entirely complete but very much out of the initial stages and it was time to move forward. After all it’s not every year that Bryan Murray acquires TWO top six players in the off season.
I suppose it could be much worse (look at the standings for clarification) but the Senators have been absolutely flat most games; home or away. I would trade that stomping of Detroit for 5 or 6 fewer stompings at the hands of others, thank you very much. Things are looking grim but are there actually some positive takeaways amidst a 5 game losing streak? Ehhhhhh…I’ve come this far, so…yes?

1. Producing offense not the problem for a change. In the past two seasons, often times if the Senators found themselves in a slump it could more often than not be blamed on an inability to put the Condra in the Condra puck in the net despite solid defensively play and strong goaltending. So far this season, the opposite has been the case. Even though I think goaltending is the hardest position in hockey and acknowledge ease of not noticing defensive success, I still think I would rather the problem lie in those areas than an offensive dry spell. I would much prefer Ottawa avoid the mind fuckery that is a goal drought and the difficulty that is task of overcoming it. We’ve all heard the played out expression “squeezing the stick too tight” well, it’s played out because it’s pretty real! Improving overall system play and positioning can be achieved more easily than being snakebiten I believe. Again, despite problems such as, oh I don’t know, giving up two goal leads REPEATEDLY, you could see Ottawa’s ability to score as the difference between getting zero points and one point yesterday against Dallas. If Ottawa’s going to lose I’d rather see the team get away with any points they can muster. Lord knows they added up this weekend alone.
Even though some players are getting their butts kicked possession-wise (Spezza) or in the case of Erik Karlsson, not doing great at a huge portion of his job as a defender-wise, it’s welcome to see the point getters continue to notch them while they sort out their game. Since Paul MacLean arrived in 2011, the team has been pretty solid defensively. If he can return the team to somewhere near that place and the Sens can keep scoring that should result in some much needed W’s.
The Senators have 4 players who are currently at a point per game or better pace…oh and ONE OF THEM IS A DEFENSEMAN! Think that doesn’t matter? Philadelphia doesn’t even have a player with 8 points including the still goalless Claude Giroux.

2. Lehner gets a look. Despite the scary circumstances of Craig Anderson getting injured (so glad to hear it’s not as serious as it looked!) it looks like Robin Lehner is going to get more than just spot duty until our #1 has recovered. With one of the top 5 save percentages in the league and ZERO wins one has to think if the team could get it’s shit REMOTELY together Lehner could handily help the Sens get them some wins. My guess is as good as anyone’s with the current “stiff neck” prognosis, but if Anderson is out for the next couple of weeks Lehner wont have to worry about riding the pine after a loss. I think he’s been outstanding and am very interested to see what The Lehner could do if given three or four consecutive starts. What’s that? Nathan Lawson will serve as emergency backup? Okay, scratch that I am very interested to see what The Lehner could do if given all the starts until Anderson returns. In my opinion, Lehner’s strong play has earned him a shot at some consecutive starts but because of his status as backup, he’s rarely gotten them. Now, we’ll get to see that.

3. Dat Borowiecki Tho…If Ottawa’s problems can be squarely placed on defensive play, I cannot help but feel pretty good about seeing a promising young defenseman get called up and play a very, very solid game. Before you create an account to comment (which I encourage you to do!) and point out that Boro scored an own goal in that game, give me one second here. Honestly, the own goal does not sway my thinking on Borowiecki’s performance. After the puck trickled into the goal, Denis Potvin, like the archangel of Kentucky bourbon, swooped in and quickly pointed out that he, hall of fame defenseman, captain of four championship teams, once put the puck in his own net in the CUP FINAL. “Better in November than in June,” he joked like a complete prince of a man.
I’m not saying Boro will reach the heights of Potvin, who in my opinion was basically everything you could ever ask for in a D man – an offensive dynamo who played meaner than Bill O’Reilly losing an argument on his show, but these things happen to good players no matter what their stature. Anyone who’s been part of a scramble in front of their own net knows there’s unfortunately nothing to stop the puck from bouncing off you or your stick the opposite way than you want. Aside from Goaltending, shut down defenseman has got to be one of the most difficult positions to step into the NHL and look effective at. Forwards can “miss high and wide” a bunch of times in their first few games. You’re “getting chances” but on defense if you get walked around a couple of times?…everyone notices that. Different jobs but a slimmer margin of error I think. Who knows how long he’ll be up here for but a bullish and effective shutdown guy is what Ottawa needed and they got it from Boro. Cowen take note.

4. Still a lot of road ahead. Nothing like 10 days passing without a win for things to feel excruciatingly slow but there are still 68 games to go in the season. I feel this point so important because I believe Ottawa’s problems are pretty solvable. They’ve played at least DECENTLY defensively the past couple of years and I think they can manage to get back there and even things out. Giving up less than 50 shots (which Lehner can show he can actually fucking stop more than in one game) seems like an easier obstacle then “solve the other teams’ goaltenders more.” We all know this team is better than they’ve been playing there’s still lots of time to get to their potential. Think I’m exaggerating? Look at the standings. The team just lost their last five matches and are only four points back from 5th in the East. What a difference a couple W’s could make. They’re coming.

5. Over the next three weeks Ottawa plays the Bluejackets twice, the Flyers twice and the Panthers. So.. 😉
If they can manage to beat the Canadiens at home it could be a good month for the Sens overall. Doesn’t take away from how they pretty much have to win a lot of those games but I have faith. Go out there and give Lehner some support*!

*Oh, speaking of which…let’s uhh….crack open the old wallets and attend a game or two, huh? Attendance is scaring the shit out of me. 

Wow, was that the most heavily scrutinized preseason in Sens history or what?

Skelescope

Hi everybody, spotlight please….……….

…………….              …………

Alright, well, I’ll start anyway.

Is it just me or have you ever seen the microscope on a Senators preseason like this one? In some circles, preseason is typically known as the only time when I am actually offered friends’ season tickets. In the past the giving of said tickets was initially met with excitement but things would take a downturn upon parking my buns (ew, sorry) in the seat and looking at my program realizing the burning questions heading into the match would be stuff like, “will the line of Hennessey, Ruutu and Bass find INSTANT CHEMISTRY???!!??!?!” or “How will Derek Smith and Ben Blood manage in shutting down Kyle Chipchura and Tom Kostopolis’ efforts to put the squeeze on Mike Brodeur!?!?!” ONLY. TIME. WILL. TELL. Also, thank you for your continued support Sens Army on this rainy Tuesday night, all concessions FULL PRICE! *Sens theme song trumpet*

Given the playful yet loosely based on a true story example above, the heavy focus on this year’s preseason can only mean the team is much, much better than it used to be and as such expectations for prospects and bubble players going into the real season are high. An additional circumstance at play here, of course, is that a group of AHL call ups, rookies and less than elite NHLers (riding on the wings of great goaltending) just performed even better than the full team all having near career years two seasons previous. A lot of attention now falls on the team’s skilled players in their return to full time duty. When you add in the loss of the team captain/face of the franchise and the addition of a top line player well…I can definitely see the reason for all of the fuss. That said, I don’t think it wise putting too, too much stock in what are games that are of no consequence to the team’s standing.

It’s an interesting dichotomy at work here. For cemented roster players I can’t imagine how exhibition games serve as anything more than an opportunity to shake off a summer of rust. Conversely, for the guys looking for a shot, they might be the most important games they play all year. I have to laugh at Shawn Simpson’s trolling expert analysis that Bobby Ryan is just not ready and Erik Karlsson does not look like the same player he used to. First off, both of those guys produced. Second, I am NOT MAD at guys who make $5MM plus on the roster not playing a split squad game (tremendously stupid idea btw) like it’s the playoffs. Just shake the cobwebs off bros. Craig Anderson is a great example of this. He’s no doubt let in some weird ass goals but otherwise has looked pretty normal (good). Who knows that if whatever bro-bro from the Bridgeport Mister Mephistopheleses cuts in and dipsy doodles left to right on him that maybe he’s thinking, “Enjoy dude, I am not exploding my groin to stop you.” Then again, hey, maybe he IS shaky. All I know is if he’s the latter, this is the time to work the kinks out.

On the other side, you have half the guys playing their hearts out in hopes of earning a spot, a waiver pick up or even just a raised moustache from the coach. Considering just two nights ago I watched Jean Gabriel Pageau go over 60% on draws, score a beautiful one timer (one of many quality chances he produced), oh and level a guy who’s SIX FOOT FOUR who tried to check him…what can I say? Some bubble guys’ accomplishments can be tough to discount. I also recognize that I’m a Sens fan and as a Sens fan I should be cautious and remember that those who fail to learn from the Bochenskis of the past are doomed to Bobby Butler in the future.

All this bologna said, here are some musings (again, sorry) going into the season:

– For all the talk about Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson not quite being there (despite multi point games and some highlight reel goals?) not a lot of ink spilled about how Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris were hitting it off on some Mark Wahlberg and whatever that bear is called that I’m supposed to think is funny because it says a lot of swears type shit. Sometimes I wonder if Clarke MacArthur will be someone who’s contribution to the team really catches us off guard; Marc Methot style.

– Ottawa…I’m comin in sore. For all the talk of precautionary measures and bobos it is not great to hear about star players nursing injuries this early on…and by early on I mean, the season hasn’t even fucking started yet (theme).
I find there is an easy misconception to fall victim to as a fan and it’s this: That when players return from the injured reserve that they have a full green Mortal Kombat health bar. Most of the time these guys are likely more “well enough to play” than fully healed. In the case of Anderson, having suffered some serious ankle injuries myself, I can say even someone not playing NHL hockey in a position that relies heavily on reflexes, say instead they were some stupid slob, would still be far from normalcy even 7 months later. Are these guys right as rain or playing through the pain? Teams only tell the media what they strategically elect to disclose (which makes Brian Burke all kinds of confusing but I digress) so I suppose when the games are coming every second night we’ll likely see who was pushing too hard to come back and who was just resting while they had the chance. At least we have the luxury of knowing the team is deep thanks for a very stressful 2012-2013 campaign.

– A couple of the guys who I was hoping would have a great audition in exhibition play did. I’m talking about Patrick Wiercioch, Cory ChronicHerb and Pean Jabriel Gageau.

First, Wiercioch who might have the toughest row to hoe, looks like he took a big step. Not that I needed much convincing but with the departure of Gonchar it was great to see him looking in charge and making great decisions with the puck. No easy task filling in for a future Hall of Famer but can we get a bit real that he’s filling in for a future Hall of Famer that was entering his 40’s last year? I quite liked Gonchar during his time here but that doesn’t mean I’m not ready to move on from the guy and accept the potential ups and downs of Patti W. Lord knows Gonchar had ups and downs.

Second, Conacher has looked dynamite since rookie camp. I’m not really surprised. As a fan of a team that for many years tried to find that “missing piece” at the trade deadline, I know there is a lot of pressure on a player who’s been traded and plugged into a new team, a new coach and new surroundings to perform seamlessly right away. Right, Sideshow Mike Commodore? Few guys can do it. Not only did Double C get moved off a sweet gig playing with Stamkos, he was straight up asked to perform a whole new role by Coach Paul MacLean. He’s gone into this season knowing what he has to do from the get go and that’s be that guy in front of the net. I actually think it’s an interesting strategy given Cory’s about 5 foot 8 and nearly 200 pounds. He may not be tall but owning a bulldog has taught me that when something short and wide doesn’t want to do something it is very, very difficult to convince it otherwise. With a slick shooter like Turris centring for two fairly skilled muckers in MacArthur and Conacher this could prove a very, very annoying line to play against.

Lastly, Jean Gabriel Pageau. It pains me in my efforts to not overdue it. Yet. I don’t remember the last time a Sens prospect has performed this consistently right off the hop. He plays both ways, he creates chances, capitalizes on a lot of them, hell he even hits! It doesn’t matter if he’s buried on the fourth line, it’s very hard to not notice his play. Not only was the best rookie in preseason he might have been Ottawa’s best player in preseason. Yes, to consider my own theme, preseason. But it is hard to ignore the consistency of this player since earning his way up unexpectedly from Bingo. Playoff spot clinching end of season games? Performed well and produced right away. Montreal series? A force. Pittsburgh series? Played well (a rare statement for the Sens). Rookie camp? Dominated. Exhibition games? Again, a stand out performance. I’ve heard many NHL players say that the most difficult thing about the game is being consistent night after night at that level. Perhaps Pageau is showing that consistency could be his strong suit. Say what you will about the reasoning behind it but JGP did actually outplay Zibanejad heading into the season. Despite all efforts to bury him in the pecking order Pager just keeps making it harder to deny him. Let’s hope he can keep it up.

As much as I’ve learned during the past 76 weeks of the preseason, I am incredibly glad to see it end. Though I’m very excited about the additions of Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur it’s not only been an emotionally draining offseason but frankly an embarrassing one for the franchise. Nothing like some strong play to hopefully get we fans back to enjoying what we’re here for ……………………………………………

………………………………wait for it………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………………………

………this COOLEST game on earf……………………………….

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…………………NHL………………………………………………

……………..hockey.

Whatever this is boring what do you say I just go ahead and sign Jared Cowen right now.

I know it's baseball but he's wearing #2 and EVERYTHING.

I know it’s baseball but he’s wearing #2 and EVERYTHING.

If this is indeed a free country and I’m going to be this bored I pretty much owe it to not only to myself but to the seafoam, white and blue of Ottawa’s flag to pretend sign Jared Cowen, right?

It makes sense that this contract is taking so long. Is there a weirder history surrounding a player that Ottawa’s had to sign this year than Cowen…you know other than Corvo’s despicable past? The way I see it, this is a pretty high risk deal for Ottawa. The pedigree is there: a first round pick who was slated to go much higher than he did (which is saying something considering he still went 9th overall), world juniors experience, a Calder Cup ring, something called Ed Chynoweth’s Cup. He’s good!

He has also shown flashes of what he can do at the NHL level which is hit people through the boards. His hits aren’t as noticeable as Neil’s or Methot’s but I find nary a game goes by where he doesn’t make an opposing forward sit down on the ice and think about why they shouldn’t enter Ottawa’s zone.

Production is a bit of an issue, I doubt his numbers will ever resemble what they did in the WHL but I could see his production being similar to that of Chris Phillips. He’ll never wow fans with his offensive stats (in fact he’ll likely be cracked on for them) but like with Phillips those odd goals he scores will come in handy. Speculation! Either way, it’s not really Cowen’s job to score. If the Senators find themselves leaning on Jerry for production, well, they’ll have bigger problems on their hands at that point.

Anyway, the big sticky issue here is how the two sides have to agree on a new contract for a very promising player who despite being drated in ‘09 has little NHL experience to draw on so far. Let’s speak to the reason why he has so little NHL time: His near season ending injury where he tore his barf labrum which is lo– Oh! we have caller on the WTYKY hotline!

“We have Ray Ray from on the line from Tupelo, you’re on with a Welcome To Your Karlsson Years blog post, this doesn’t make sense but go ahead Ray Ray…”

“Hi, thanks for taking my call I’m a first time caller and I’ve never read your blog”

Thanks very much, go ahead please, what’s your question?

“Well what I want to know, just to circle back, is if Cowen was slated to go so high in the draft what caused him to drop down? I’ll hang up…” 

…and listen to my response?

“…who cares.” *hang up sound*

Okay, thanks Ray-Ray, well, Cowen dropped in the draft standings because his knee exploded in Junior and he had to have it surgically reconstructed. He looked sluggish in his return resulting in a so-so performance at the WJCs whch scared off a handful of teams on draft day. So…you know…another season ender there… where was I…contract…

Look, I’m not saying that Cowen is damaged goods or something like that. I’m actually pretty high on the kid. I think he’s still raw in some aspects but I love a lot of what he already brings to the table. I’ve long thought of Phillips as one of the more unsung players on the Senators. A couple of years down the line I hope for Cowen to be a replacement for Big Rig and to be similarly under appreciated. Speaking of a few years down the line, is anyone else mildly concerned about a big lumbering dude who at age 22 has already had two serious season ending (more or less) injuries? I suppose that the Senators aren’t worried considering that they have offered him an 8 year deal. You know, an eight year contract, NBD, eight entire years, league max…EIGHT… the kind you offer a kid that’s played less than 100 NHL games since being drafted 4 years ago and is coming off a season where injury that limited him to 7 regular season games followed by a pretty lackluster playoff. *draws breath*  I don’t think I’m eight year contract high on him personally.

Obviously Ottawa believes in his ability DEEPLY offering him the 8 years aaaaaand also believes DEEPLY in potentially saving money by making it an average hit of $3.5MM. Though shut down defenders never really make crazy money if Cowen blossoms over time into a dominant defender they wont have to give him a raise for nearly a decade! But if he underperforms or has injury problems that is a long ass time to have a guy on the books. Right, Sideshow Tyler Myers?

Another option seems to be a short “prove your worth” bridge contract. Though they have a downside too. PK Subaru recently taught the Canadiens the dangers of the bridge contract in a salary cap paradigm. “Hi, Im affordable for two years, oops, Erik Karlsson got badly hurt and I won borrowed the Norris trophy…can I has moneyburger?” Eugene does not has moneyburger right now.

So basically, Cowen is seen by the organization as a building block for the team’s back end going forward (fair, considering Ottawa selected him so high) in need of a building block guy contract (ex. Karlsson’s 7 years) but the the fact remains that he has done precious little to deserve one …save for beating the piss out of Ryan White which was just…*kisses the tips of fingers*

Believing in a guy at less than 100 games played is a gamble plain and simple. I mean entry level contracts are three years long for a reason. This is theoretically like signing him after one season. I think 8 years is pretty much insane commitment. Karlsson’s 7 years made a lot of sense and we’ve already watched him miss an entire season from injury. Cowen’s also already missed one NHL season. I don’t exactly like the idea of a bridge contract either. The typical 2 years feels too short and could wind up costing budget restricted Ottawa a lot of money…that or it could end up costing them Cowen or another good player to accommodate for Cowen when that deal is up. Also find it hard to picture Wiercioch getting 3 years and Cowen 2. What say youuuuuuu…. 5 years 3.25MM dollars per year?  A little less money than the 8 year deal for the Sens, a quicker chance at a raise for Cowzie (assuming his teammates call him that) and still we have the kid locked up for the foreseeable future but not necessarily handcuffed to him if things don’t work out.

What’s that? You think it’s a crap deal? Well I got bad news baby cousin, this is fake and imaginary Cowen is already simultaneously shaking my hand and signing the paper right now.

He looks like Seinfeld.

Today We Are All Ottawa Senators Season Seat Holders

Have you seen this? Let’s talk about this.

How is this deal economically viable? Even if it’s only for 500 tickets…though once those 500 are gone how much do you want to bet you can just phone up 954-835-PUCK and say you want the Crazy Ass Deal above and they’d give it to you out of desperation. Let’s calmly review the incentives for making this $287 dollar commitment to YOURRRRRRRR Floridatown Pantherrrrrrrrrssss (whoo uuup till earrlierrr thiiis weeek haaad aaaa hiiiigher payroooll thaaaan Ottaaaawwaaaaaa)!!!

1. Free jersey. $200 retail…likely slightly cheaper in the States. I would estimate $150-$160 USD. Either way a great, great perk many fans who put 1000s of dollars up would kill for. In this case it’s in exchange for buying tickets at less than a third of the price of an upper 300 level seat at a Sens game.
2. Free PARKING (for the whole fucking season!) if you consider it at Ottawa’s $12 rate at 41 games home games that’s a potential of nearly $500 lost per season seat holder. At the advertised 500 season tickets it’s a potential quarter million dollars swallowed….though maybe the Panthers’ arena isn’t buried in the Florida everglades like ours is and not as many people have to drive…Still, cheap out on the estimate and lop even 50K off that and it’s still 200 grand they could be doubling Bobby Butler’s salary with. Oops, just looked it up, the arena is located in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. Lots o’ driving. Lots o’ parking.
3. FOUR not one not two…FOUR free concerts at the Church of Latter Day Saints Center (or whatever). Free parking for that shit too? Also, does that include notoriously big ticket names like Bruce Springsteen, U2 or Fleetwood Mac? Those tickets probably take the loss on a greater scale in the nosebleeds than they would behind the home bench at a Panthers game. If said season seat holder chose to scalp these concert tickets it would be 100% profit for them! Pick expensive enough concerts, sell the tickets at the right price, you’re looking at your season ticket package paying for itself right there. The rap game Adam Smith up in this piece.
4. Improved experience with new scoreboard just in time for 20th anniversary season! Hmm, this one sounds familiar. Except, you know, Florida’s scoreboard sounds like it will be installed in time for their 20th season. Also, the Florida Panthers owner (I looked it up it’s Dick Cheney) doesn’t sound like he’s expecting the fans to kiss his hairy beanbag for replacing a scoreboard THAT WAS LITERALLY SHORTING OUT DURING NHL GAMES THAT COUNT and replacing it with the industry standard after 20 years. Congratulations on investing in your own property after a decade of ownership Euge…oh no, no THANK YOUUUUUUU *buys 12 dollar can of Heineken and eight dollar poutine*
5. New and Exciting Division! Awwwwwwwwwe this one is actually so frigging adorable. Acting like the dissolution of the South Easy Division bodes well in ANY way for the Panthers’ on ice product. Well, actually I guess Buffalo is in their division now…so there’s that? Actually more original six teams does mean more potential revenue for the Panthers given all the snowbirds in Florida. Apparently you might as well be at the Bell Center when Montreal is in town. Have the citizens of Detroit made their way South yet like in The Road?
I’ve been of the opinion that though Melnyk may not be as wealthy as say, Mark Cuban,  I think he exaggerates when he makes his vague proclamations about the financial situation surrounding the team (What? Our Euge? Exaggerate?). I don’t think that Ottawa is the Rangers (few are) but 2 rounds of playoffs to break even? Give me a fucking break the team has missed the playoffs TWICE in the near decade he’s owned it. Note: In one of those missed years they introduced a third jersey that a surprising amount of people bought for some reason. Think that doesn’t compensate? Trust me there’s a sweet mark up on a $200 dollar polyester long sleeve shirt. Ottawa apparently has pretty decent ticket prices as far as the rest of the league goes but has one of the higher attendance rates. Factor in all those playoff games over the past ten years where I’m going to go ahead and say the tickets are NOT decently priced and how you dont have to pay the players in the post season….How is there not money there? I’ve paid over $100 dollars to sit in 30 dollar seats in ROUND ONE watching the 8th seed get pounded by the no.1 seed. Fans are opening their wallets and doing their part.
Listen, I can be a little hard on the season seat holders. Hey, I love you guys, you help pay the bills, but sometimes we troglodytes don’t like hearing about how hard it is out there for a pimp and how because you have enough money to attend every home game that the line to meet, get a photo and autograph with Erik Karlsson was too long so you had to settle for Jim O’Brien and…actually you know what that does sound like all kinds of boring. I take it back.
Anyway, I have to say, if I had the money to buy season seats (Ladiiiies) season after season and less than a calendar year removed from ANOTHER lockout that largely had to do with the distribution of hockey related revenue, I would flip my lid if I saw this Florida thing! I mean I’m not a season seat holder and I am. Makes those post-lockout fan incentives seem like nothing. Thanks for the free bag of popcorn! Can I has four free concerts with that? Consider that just last night The Justin Beibler Dancers performed a sold out show at Canadian Tire Piazza where you best belieb a lot of parents parked at a handsome fee…not to mention the venuEUGE gets a cut of the merch sales. This is all in the off season btw.
I’m saying if Eugene commanding that Murray work on the cheap whilst improving a playoff team that routinely sells out games, just hosted the all star weekend, has fans that have adopted the 3rd jersey like it’s the home uniform oh and they just DID make that coveted second round all while operating in the cap basement; gets people talking about how the sky is falling for the organization then what is success? Most importantly, what in the fuck does this Panthers season ticket deal mean?
I’m not saying Post-Divorce, Post-Getting in Legal Shit Eugene is Scrooge McDuck backstroking through as many gold coins as he once was but in a small market sport like NHL hockey an owner who cries poor tends to get the casino. One needn’t look further for proof than how Oilers owner Darryl Katz went on that little weekend trip down to Seattle to sniff around retail prices and magically got that big helping hand to build that brand new stadium he was looking for. If you’re going to run a team as terribly as the Oilers I imagine the NHL prefer you do it in a place where people actually attend games.
In closing, these guys didn’t become billionaires by being terrible negotiators. They leave that to the Paul Holmgrens of the world.     

Ottawa…I’m Coming in #lalala: The Changing of the Guard in Das Kapital

“@NHL_Sens…just wanted to say @WTYKY got hosed in the hashtag contest….make this shit right! <3, BR #REALTALK"

Hello, it's still summer.

Listen, your father and I would like to talk to you about the Ottawa Senators for a moment. HEY! and just where do you think you're going? OUT!? Ahhhh nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh. Sit right down young lady/man/no judgments. Do you have any idea how hard your Varada and I work to put a blog over your head and opinions on the table in mid July? Well, okay then…where was I…

I remember a friend making an interesting observation about the Sens during a time when things were going not so grand for the boys..lets call it “around 2010-2011”. He said, “It just seems like Ottawa isn’t a fun team to play on anymore.” He was right. Morale seemed very low among fans and players alike. I mean no moment encapsulates what my friend (that’s right) was getting at more than Erik Karlsson getting told that he just made the All Star team (via the6thsens.com). Ugh…I can hardly stand watching that clip as there is just so much sharing of the laughter and love. Nothing says congratulations like “Take your sock off” and a terse, unsmiling handshake.
I don’t want to put it all on Clouston but he was definitely the figurehead of those stern times. No disrispeck, but in the post Dan[n]y Heatley era…how to put this delicately…the team was filled with strong silent types. Look, I’m not saying Martin Gerber isn’t a barrel of laughs. His Chaucer puns are not going to be replaced by Robin Lehner overnight but I think 😉 is a great start to a new chapter. Seriously though, before we move on was there ever a more boring player on the Senators than Martin Gerber? Sound off with your choice in the comment section!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that there is still a veteran core to keep things balanced. I am happy to say, however, that the days of Erik Karlsson sitting alone at the kid’s table while old Uncle Phillips takes time out from telling old Uncle Kuba stories about the how you couldnt get tin while we were chasing the Kaiser during the Great War to remind King K that he isn’t leaving the table until he finishes every last one of his vegetables.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that I’m going to talk about social media now. It makes a lot of sense that as the youngest team in the league a lot of players would be using twitter but really your account is only as engaging as you make it right, Shean Donovan? Not only does Ottawa have a lot players on twitter but they have several who are quite good at it.
Erik Karlsson hasn’t even been tweeting all that long and has already started a fan favorite hashtag with #lalala. Note: I’m also a fan of his lesser appreciated #whocares. He’s sayin what we’re all thinkin! His picture game is pretty tight as well, what with his posts about his “funky” new shoes or sharing his drunk faced antics with Andre Petersson (a player that used to be considered a top prospect in Ottawa’s system). Ek, unlike many star players, is a really worthwhile folllow.
Also enjoyable is the endless chirping between Marc Methot, Z Smith and Matt Kassian over who is the biggest hipster on the team. (Spoiler: None of you are! You’re all hulking millionaire pro athletes!) Not to mention that fake account devoted to making fun of Jim O’Brien run by Kassian. I mean I thought that was my job but still, game recognize game!
Considering new addition Bobby Ryan has around as many followers as the average member of the Wu Tang Clan, not only does the profile of the team get raised it also allows we followers an opportunity to get to know the players’ personalities a little bit in a way that a post game interview doesn’t. Turns out they actually have personalities!
It’s not all fun and games though…Mika Zibanejad’s website remains fucking TERRIBLE.

Despite this so far being a post about twitter that’s not entirely the point I want to make. To me the changeover in team culture extends beyond getting a window into what wedding Erik Condra is attending.
The most significant shift in attitude has been behind the bench in my opinion. His Jack Adams win kind of speaks for itself but can you honestly imagine a better fit for the squad than Paul MacLean? He did more to boost morale in his first press conference than Paddock, Hartsberg or Clouston did in their respective tenures in Ottawa.
The way he handled Therrien and Prust during the series with the Habs? I haven’t felt swagger like that in Ottawa since the days of Ray Emery’s Steve Harvey inspired zoot suits and his dropping of rap singles on our heads back in 2007. Who wouldn’t want to go through the wall for a guy like MacLean? He knows what it’s like to be a player and knows what it takes to win as a coach. You can tell by the way he carries himself, what he says and how he treats his players.
When a coach doles out nothing but toughness I think it loses it’s effectiveness pretty quickly. It’s requires balance. Under the impression Paul MacLean is a big softy that can’t get real talk with his team? Ask Latendresse, Regin, O’Brien, Filatov, or Butler what being in his doghouse is like. He doesn’t like your play, he’s not afraid to bury you in the press box indefinitely. Something tells me it means a little more when Big P loses his shit with you. Like you’ve really let the guy down. With the league getting younger and younger and Ottawa being it’s youngest overall team a father figure like P Mac is such a great fit and so far, it shows.

Lastly, ugh…I don’t know how I’m going to do this…*siiiiiiiiiiigh* okay, there’s only one way to say it, Doniiiii Brennan wrote an article the other day about Spezza making a great choice for captain that I….that I………………………..that I really agreed with. THERE ARE YOU HAPPY? I SAID IT. I READ AND LIKED HIS ARTICLE OKAY, GOD.
I do think Spezz would be a great choice and one that the team wouldn’t regret.
Do I think Spezza would make a better captain than Daniel Alfredsson? I think their personalities/legacies are almost too different to compare. I am open to the idea that Spezza’s personality might be a little more suited to leading this particular young group. He’s been in the league long enough to be considered a veteren, he has the performance cred to back up his position as leader but he’s still young enough to relate to the pups. He’s hip for a dad! He knows what the new rapping songs by The Skrillexes are. He has a tamagotchi. In fact he has two. See, cool. Leadership. Synergy. Willenium.
With the departure of face of the franchise Daniel Alfredsson, 2013-2014 will truly be a new chapter for the franchise. I still haven’t fully come to grips with how we’re about to see our first games without Alfie in nearly 2 decades. Will it be better? Well, with no Stanley Cups and as a person who tunes into games uhhh, yeah, I frigging hope so. There’s no guarantees but I do know that the past two seasons have been as exciting to watch as any other in my recollection. This team looks fun and exciting to be a part of again. On the heels of their deepest playoff run since 2007 I’d say that this year the Sens are coming in hot. I just made that up.