Your Half-Assed Round 2 Preview: The System is Merciful to Those It Loves

Folks, welcome back.

I’m sure lots of people are surprised that I get to write a Round 2 preview for Ottawa, but I’m not one of those people. However, I am surprised to be writing a preview for an Ottawa Senators v. New York Rangers series. I was mentally preparing to construct a grim preview for a Sens-Habs series filled with all sorts of anecdotes about how the Habs were a bad matchup for Ottawa and how we’d all better buckle up because the series might really suck for the Ottawa Karlssons. Instead, Henrik Lundqvist and Brian Elliott broke whatever Freaky Friday body-switch spell they were under, and Max Pacioretty turned into Max Patio-Ready, and now I get to read the tea leaves to see what sort of chances the analytically suspect team with good players has against the other analytically suspect team with good players. Let’s get to the graphs!

1. The New York Rangers are not the Boston Bruins. At all. Not even a little bit.

For all the hand-wringing from Boston fans about how Ottawa’s “boring” “1-3-1” neutral zone play was bad for the game of hockey, it’s important to note that Boston was equally culpable: outside of one line, the Bruins simply didn’t have the speed or talent to be able to gain the offensive zone reliably. This is not true of the Rangers. New York has speed and they have it everywhere.

The Rangers are a counter-attacking team who don’t mind dumping the puck out of their D-zone because they know they can force a turnover and attack with their deadly transition game. New York’s first line of J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, and Mats Zuccarello are all fast enough to turn nothing into something if Ottawa isn’t alert in the neutral zone. Going down the lineup, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner, Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash, and Jesper Fast (I assume) are all plenty quick as well. With New York’s focus on quick transition, the Senators-Rangers series is going to have a much different rhythm of play compared to the Senators-Bruins series.

2. The Rangers are good at getting to the net and scoring once they are there.

You need to give New York credit: as much as they are analytically suspect, lacking in Corsis and barely break even in terms of Expected Goals (AKA xG – my favourite nerd stat because it takes into account shot location in addition to shot volume), they are extremely adept at getting the puck to the front of their opponents’ net. You go up and down the Rangers’ forwards and it’s difficult to find one who isn’t above average at getting shots away from close to the net. (Ok, I did find one.) Add in the fact that Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, Jimmy Vesey, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Michael Grabner have all been shooting at a greater than 10% shooting percentage this year, and it’s not hard to see what drove the Rangers offense to the 4th best Goals For in the league this season. Check out that list again. Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan, arguably the Rangers’ two best forwards, aren’t even on it. Essentially the Rangers have three full lines who can take the lotion to the basket and put it in there without needing to be threatened with the hose.

Ottawa will have to be even more disciplined in the neutral and defensive zones than they were against Boston in order to slow down New York’s extremely effective scoring forwards.

3a. The Rangers are bad at keeping pucks away from their net.

Now that I have successfully terrorized every Sens fan reading, I will get to the other side of the Rangers coin: they are bad at defense. In fact, they are about as bad at keeping the puck away from their own net as they are good at getting pucks to the opposition’s net. This is a trend that has held when playing Ottawa specifically. In all three games against the Rangers this season, Ottawa has taken a lot of shots from dangerous locations. Ottawa also dominated the Corsi battle in two of those games, including their 3-1 victory on April 8th where Ottawa had more than 75% of the shots with Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf on the ice (???). The takeaway here is that as much as New York’s speed is going to be a bad match up for the Borowieckis, Phaneufs, and Kellys of the world, Ottawa’s offense seems to pose just as many problems for the Rangers.

3b. On New York’s Jekyll and Hyde defense corps.

Ryan McDonagh is very good, so naturally he’s often paired with Dan Girardi who I’m told is “like if Mark Borowiecki got 1st pairing minutes”. Brady Skjei is a sneaky good puck mover and offensive threat in the mould of Matt Niskanen who lately spends his time playing with Brendan Smith (who is O.K.) or Kevin Klein (who barely moves the needle in either direction). This leaves The Pairing With Marc Staal On It, which is the pairing with Marc Staal on it. Marc Staal isn’t exactly known for his offense but on the other hand he’s also not known for his defense. Lately Staal has been paired with Nick Holden who managed to keep both their heads above water against Montreal.

As deep as New York’s forwards are, there are opportunities to be had against the Rangers’ defense, especially if Alain Vignault continues to deploy Girardi with McDonagh. Moving out of the top 4, Ottawa’s defensive depth of Wideman/Claesson/Harpur may be just-ever-so-slightly less dodgy than the Rangers depth of Staal and Whoever, even with Borowiecki and Cody Ceci occasionally driving Sens fans to the edge.

4. You didn’t really think you were going to read a playoff preview that didn’t mention goaltending, did you?

In the blue corner is Henrik Lundqvist, the perennial Vezina candidate and poster of a .920 or better save percentage for every year from 09-10 to 15-16. King Henrik had an extremely average year this season, and at the age of 35, it’s possible he’s finally coming down from the elite level he’s played at for most of his career. On the other hand, he just posted a .947 sv% against the Montreal Canadiens and basically won the series singlehandedly. The only thing hotter than Henrik Lundqvist in a suit is Henrik Lundqvist in the playoffs.

In the red corner is Craig Anderson, a playoff gamer whose .921 sv% against Boston was still disappointing to some because Anderson’s career playoff sv% is .931.

For all the weaknesses both teams have, they are extremely strong in net. This means that it’s time for the phrase all my playoff previews must have: “If either goaltender gets hot, it will likely prove to be the difference in this series.”

That’s the WTYKY difference right there. Only I’m going to tell you goaltending is important.

The Wisdom

I suspect that this series will be one that Nerds would refer to as “high variance”. You could play this series 100 times and each team would win it 50 times for a different reason each time. I think something weird and unpredictable will be the difference in this series, be it Henrik Lundqvist posting 3 shutouts, or Mike Hoffman scoring 9 points in 4 games, or every single Senator doing nothing but bounce off Rick Nash for a whole series, or Dan Girardi and Marc Staal melting down into puddles of goo at the sight of Erik Karlsson. Where Ottawa vs. Boston was a series decided by Ottawa’s strengths (AKA The System) against Boston’s strengths (AKA The Bergeron Line) (Decision: The System), the winner of Ottawa vs. New York will be the team whose weaknesses were exploited less. If Ottawa’s commitment to team defense can slow the Rangers’ counter-attack, I’ll see you for a Half-Assed Round 3 Preview. If Henrik Lundqvist can adequately wallpaper over the holes in his team’s defensive structure, we’ll be left with lots of time to ponder how a traditional rebuild five years ago would have been better for Ottawa.

I leave you with this bit of advice apparently still unlearned by most experts at ESPN: when in doubt, pick the team with Erik Karlsson on it.

Sens in 7.

Your Half-Assed Round 1 Preview: Get At Me Haters

Have you heard the news? The Sens have no chance in this series and you’re an idiot for thinking otherwise. So that pretty much wraps that up. Objectively the Sens suck and will lose.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
HA JUST KIDDING! Now let me outline some arguments in favour of the notion that the Senators are not screwed.

Argument By Way Of Match-up

Consult any Fancy Stat you care to name, and they’ll all tell you the same thing: The Bruins are good at the things that correlate with winning. During 5-on-5 play they generate more shots than anyone, and they give up fewer shots than anyone except Los Angeles. They have arguably the most effective line in the league in Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak/Backes, and they’ve got such effective depth that very few of their players could be considered a possession drag in anything other than a relative sense. Oh and Boston also has one of the most effective penalty kills in the league. Ottawa plays safe, well-structured hockey but they can’t really compete with Boston in terms of shot metrics or Expected Goals or any other nerd stat. This is why Boston is considered by most to be an overwhelming favourite in this series.

However, there is reason to believe that the Sens and The System™ pose problems for the Bruins that other teams do not. Over at WTYKY’s sister blog, TSN.ca, Travis Yost broke down some possible 1st round matchups by looking at head-to-head performance. Yost concluded that regular season success in terms of Corsi/shots (the terms are used interchangeably) or Head-To-Head goal differential is somewhat predictive of post-season success against a certain team, and that a combination of Corsi and H2H goal differential advantage is an even stronger predictor of success.

Well, the Sens have a non-trivial goal differential advantage against Boston and have played them to a near-draw in terms of Corsi (This is particularly remarkable when you see the Corsi advantage Boston holds over other playoff teams.) so you’d have to say the Sens have done something right against the Bruins this season. Personally, I think that Ottawa’s success is attributable to a combination of good neutral zone play and a defensive system that’s explicitly designed to prevent shots from the areas Boston gets to most effectively. In both cases, this advantage will only persist if Ottawa executes well. Luckily executing well is the thing that got Ottawa into this position to begin with.

Now, Pierre Dorion and Guy Boucher and pretty much every Senators player who has been asked has said that the playoffs are different and the regular season success means nothing, and in a way they’re right. However, I’d still start with matchup considerations if you’re looking for reasons to believe that Ottawa has a chance in this series.

Argument By Way Of Health

Boston is likely to be without Torey Krug for much of the series. Nearly half of Krug’s 51 regular season points came on the power play, so it’s safe to say that his loss will be felt at 5-on-5 and 5-on-4. In addition, rookie Will McAvoy will take Krug’s spot in the lineup and will have to be babysat by Zdeno Chara for much of his ice time.

Meanwhile, Ottawa will be nearly as healthy as possible going into this series. The returns of Zack Smith and Clarke MacArthur give Ottawa a scoring depth all the way down the lineup that they have not enjoyed all season, and even if Marc Methot doesn’t start Game 1, Freddie Claesson has shown himself to be an excellent defensemen in his own right during Methot’s absence. Oh and also Erik Karlsson is coming back.

TL;DR – Ottawa has all their good players and Boston does not.

Argument By Way Of Depth

Don’t get it twisted: Boston is a formidable opponent simply on the strength of their top two forward lines, who are some of the best lines in hockey. However, once you get out of Boston’s top 8 scorers, you get into players like Dominic Moore (25 P, 82 GP), Frank Vatrano (18 P, 44 GP), Riley Nash (17 P, 81 GP), and Tim Schaller (14 P, 59 GP). Drew Stafford has also been an effective deadline acquisition for Boston. For Ottawa to have a chance to win the series, they will need guys like Bobby Ryan, Zack Smith, Alex Burrows, and Viktor Stalberg to outscore their “complimentary piece” counterparts. This is plausible because Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith are actually kind of good at scoring (or at least they used to be), and Burrows and Stalberg were literally brought in as ringers for just this situation.

On the defensive side of the rosters, Boston’s 2nd defense pairing of John-Michael Liles and Adam McQuaid are not known for their scoring prowess. The likely 3rd paring of Kevan (sic) and Colin Miller have produced modestly this season, although their Points per 60 Minutes rates are comparable to Chris Wideman’s. If Ottawa can get secondary scoring from defensemen like Freddie Claesson, Chris Wideman, and even Dion Phaneuf during this series as they have throughout the year, it will go a long way to mitigating some of the advantages Boston has at other areas.

Argument By Way of Goaltending

I will be straight up here: Tuukka Rask has not been good for the last two seasons. In fact, his year-over-year 5-on-5 save percentage has been steadily declining since 2014.

goalies

Meanwhile, Craig Anderson is in the middle of a season that would see him getting Vezina consideration if he’d played 60+ games this year instead of only 40. Tuukka Rask has won a Vezina trophy and a Stanley Cup, but it’s clear that he hasn’t been that player for years, and unless Rask turns back into that player overnight, Ottawa is likely to have a significant advantage in goal.

Rask could totally turn back into Vezina Rask overnight though. I don’t understand goalies.

Argument By Way Of Recent Form

corsica1

corsica2

Ottawa comes into this series playing some of their best hockey of the year (measured in terms of Fancy Stats). Boston comes into this series playing some of their worst hockey of the year (measured in terms of Fancy Stats). I’m not saying that it’s definitely going to persist, but it’s still a good time to be peaking.

Argument By Way of We Have Erik Karlsson And You Don’t

The Wisdom

Sens fans seem to be feeling pretty confident going into this one, and who can blame them? The team is healthy, The System is systeming, Ottawa has Erik Karlsson and home ice advantage, and Boston’s a team that’s looked extremely beatable this year. Still, I can’t shake this nagging feeling that we’re all in for more than we bargained for. Boston’s got too much talent and they’re too well-structured to be anything other than an extremely difficult out. Even though Ottawa won all their games against this Bruins this year, Patrice Bergeron was outstanding in all those games. The Bergeron line figures to be the linchpin of the whole series. If Ottawa neutralizes Bergeron enough to keep his line off the scoresheet, they win; if not, they lose. Not helping matters is the fact that Boston figures to have the special teams advantage on both PK and PP.

Still, Ottawa’s coming together at the right time, and if this lineup can’t beat Boston with home ice advantage, when else would it ever happen?

Sens in 7

Roundtable of Death: Playoffs Against Not-Toronto Edition

Luke:

You know, even though the Senators are a team that’s spent almost the entire season in a playoff spot, the last few weeks were still emotionally fraught for me. This culminated in an extremely dramatic final regular season weekend where I went through The 6 Stages of Playing The Leafs in the Playoffs

Stage 1 – Denial
“No way the Leafs are gonna beat Pittsburgh and Columbus on back-to-back games. They’re gonna miss the playoffs for sure.”

Stage 2 – Anger
“Goddamn the Penguins. They are truly useless. They haven’t the faintest idea of when to lose, and absolutely no idea of when to win.”

Stage 3 – Bargaining
“Ok, even if this happens, the Sens will have home ice advantage. That’s gotta count for something right?”

Stage 4 – Depression
“Whelp, the Leafs are up 2-0. This series will take years off my life. Why did I have to live to see this?”

Stage 5 – Acceptance
“I guess this is happening. I’m ready. Let’s do it. Bring it on.”

Stage 6 – The Leafs Choking
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

So after all that wasted emotional energy, Ottawa’s got home ice advantage in a playoff series against Boston. I think Boston’s a good matchup for Ottawa, but more than that, they’re also the perfect playoff opponent. They check all the boxes. All the ingredients are there:

a) The Good Player You Grudgingly Respect – Patrice Bergeron
b) The Good Player You Will Never Respect – Brad Marchand
c) The Grizzled Tank Defenseman Who Plays 47 Minutes A Night and Never Gets Tired – Zdeno Chara
d) The Flashy Prospect Who Is Incredibly Young – David Pastrnak
e) The Incredibly, Obnoxiously Homeriffic Play-By-Play Guy – Jack Edwards
f) The Deeply Annoying Anthem Singer – Rene Rancourt
g) Some of The Dumbest Fans In Hockey – Self-explanatory

You don’t even have to try to hate them. They’re like if Richard Nixon was a hockey team. Plus they’re a team Ottawa has quietly owned over the past two seasons. Add in the fact that we’re learning today that Boston’s pretty beat up and likely to be without Torey Krug for much of the series and I have to ask you a question: Is this all a little too perfect? It feels like the Senators are getting everything they could have wanted and I don’t trust it. It feels like Tuukka Rask is gonna suddenly turn into an immovable object after spending the last 2 years being extremely average. It feels like The Universe is trying to set me up to get my heart broken by Adam McQuaid or some other useless scrub who will immediately fade into back into obscurity after assassinating my hopes and dreams. It feels unwise to hope.

Is this just me? Where are you folks at in your spiritual journey to Wednesday night and beyond?

Andrew:

Sens in 5.

Conrad Varada:

There seem to be two emotional levels on which all hockey victories are processed:

1) the coldly utilitarian, a culmination of an objective process, under which we are as likely to see 1000 game player Chris Neil thrown under the bus as a promising prospect slotted into an area for which he’s been projected.

2) a cathartic expression of relief from anxiety over every perceived shortcoming and insecurity.

If I’ve learned anything from generations of movies about rich men who grew up to say, “Wait, maybe it isn’t about getting rich after all…” it’s that the latter scenario is more capricious but has to happen before anyone will take you seriously.

Sens could win the Cup, but if they do they likely won’t have to go through the Leafs to do it. And so there will always be an asterisk, and if will largely be imposed by the Sens’ own fanbase.

And what better year would there have been to do it! A Leafs team full of kids might have lost to a team of veterans (and some kids) reversing the armchair psychoanalysis of yesteryear. We could have read a summers worth of think pieces praising the Sens, because the Toronto media would have to play the Sens up to explain the Leafs’ exit. How could the team of destiny lose to anyone except a truly formidable opponent?

All this to say: the Sens matching up against a team they’ve played well against, and who are missing two defensemen to boot, is preferable. But rarity is value in and of itself, and a Sens-Leafs series would have been good in a rare way, with potential for real catharsis.

Oh well. Fuck the bruins, too. Go Sens!

James:

Varada, I only say this out respect for you and the community: I feel the need to present, as the ancient Olmecs would say, “L’autre cote” of this mindset. Are we really that messed up that we’d impose our own asterisk on winning a GD Cup without playing the Leafs? I don’t want to discount the psychological implications of an Ottawa-T-ONto* series but if the Sens made their first serious run in 10 years (Ed Note: fuuuuck) the last thing on my mind would be “Ahh but we didnt fade the most fadeable team on the wayyy tho.” Maybe its the decade with one playoff round win talkin’ but I find all victories to be of the cathartic relief over anxiety nature at this point. If I had to pick beating the Leafs and getting swept the next round or making the Final without playing them I know where I’d put my money every time. After getting so close to glory in ’07 only to see things go downhill the very next season, I would take an efficient game 5, 2-1 Cup victory against Las Vegas Golden Corrals in the Pacific timezone and live out my days in my ugly commemorative jacket hating out the door like “Kiss the ring!!!”. I’d also likely live 4 or 5 years longer.

Will I ever despise another professional sports franchise as much as Toronto? I mean, the Sens are set to play their first post-season game Wednesday against Not-The-Leafs and we’ve spent the majority of this post talking about them all because they failed to seal a game on home ice against a Columbus squad that had nothing to play for. I for one look forward to the think pieces about how Auston Matthews let the Caps sweep them on purpose to teach his teammates the true meaning of working hard in the offseason to come back stronger than ever.

Anyway, what I’m saying here is we have sitting in front of us what’s likely going to be a very good series. We’re seriously one Brad Marchand slewfoot away from hating the living shit out of this Boston team. Two series, one win, one loss and the very sight of a Canadiens hat brings the bile to the tip of my throat. Ditto the penguins. Even that series against the Rangers had an interesting effect. After taking them 7 games as the 8th seed does anyone else get that “Ahh, you guys ain’t shit” vibe every time Ottawa plays them? Trust me, we’ll find enough to chew on. Holy shit, speaking of which I just remembered Alex Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron in the ’11 series. It’s officially lit.

We’re about to witness some new franchise history here and I’m pretty damn excited about to dive in there with our first coach with NHL playoff experience since Bryan fucking Murray.

*T-ONto is the new way Drake shortens Toronto. He’s moved on from the VERY cool nickname “The T dot” (v cool)

Chet:

Look, we all wanted the Leafs. We all wanted the Count of Monte Cristo reboot where the guy plots his revenge for 15 years, drafts Erik Karlsson, and comes back to town to methodically destroy his enemies with a series of timely overtime goals. But now that tacky, overpriced cruise ship has #actuallysailed, and trying to recycle those white-hot Leafs takes we were all preparing for our series previews is pretty much just writing that kind of speculative fiction where the South wins the Civil War, helps Hitler win World War II, and worst of all, we end up living in a world where the Leafs don’t blow 2-0 leads. Unseemly.

How is Boston the favorite in this series? What am I missing? The Senators are getting most of their key players back at the same time the Bruins defense is down to a bunch of kids trying to save their orphanage by putting on a big show. Craig Anderson is going to steal at least one game, and Alex Burrows is going to goad Brad Marchand into getting suspended. Each of Pierre Dorion’s blazers is more Bob Hope-ass than the last. What else is there?

Luke:

I’ll try to write more about this later, but basically anyone who is looking at this series from a predictive point of view is boiling this matchup down to “Sens Goal Differential = Bad, Bruins Corsi = good, Bruins win in 3 games.” Never mind that Ottawa has matched up well against Boston this year, or that Ottawa’s fully healthy for the first time in weeks while Boston is banged up. The Corsis have spoken.

Boston’s perfectly capable of winning this series, and I’d probably even put them as slight favourites with a gun to my head, but I am skeptical about the 70%(!!!) winning chance they’ve been getting from some sportsbooks/models.

Let’s look at their players and sort by points this year.

1-3) Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci. – Those guys are good.

4-6) Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Ryan Spooner – These guys are also quite good.

7-8) David Backes, Zdeno Chara – These guys are Old, but I have heard of them.

9) Dominic Moore – Ummm??

10) Frank Vatrano – ….???

11) Riley Nash – What?

12) Brandon Carlo – Are?

13) Tim Schaller – THOSE?

Is Boston just a team with 2 lines and a bunch of Erik Condras? The answer is a HARD maybe! You can’t tell me that you wouldn’t like the chances of a 4th line of Pyatt-Smith-Wingels against a guy named Kevan.

Andrew:

Fuck the Leafs. Sens in 5.

Craig Anderson is the Best Ottawa Senators Goalie Ever, and He’s Better Than You Think

Craig Anderson became the best goalie in Ottawa Senators history so gradually, you may not have noticed until now.

You definitely noticed when he put up a 47-save, 65 minute shutout against the Maple Leafs in his first game as a Senator, and you also noticed when he went toe-to-toe with Henrik Lundqvist for seven games in the 2012 playoffs, posting a shutout and a .933 save percentage in the process. You’ve probably also noticed how he’s 5-3 against Carey Price in the playoffs. We all noticed earlier this year when he shutout the Edmonton Oilers in his first game following the cancer diagnosis of his wife, Nicholle, and last night several media outlets noticed when he tied Patrick Lalime for most wins as a Senators goalie.

However, outside of the occasional top shelf performance, Craig Anderson has rarely been incredibly noticeable. He’s the guy who posts the 2 half of 3-2 wins and 2-1 losses. A few times a year, he’ll single-handedly win a game, but it’s far more rare when he single-handedly loses it. All told, Anderson occupies a largely ignored space within the goalie hierarchy: consistent above-averageness. Ask anyone about Anderson and they’ll all say the same thing, “Yeah, he’s a good starter, but he’s no…”, and then they’ll rattle off six or seven goalies who are better, and some who are Jonathan Quick. Anderson’s never been a starter for the USA National Team, he’s never received Vezina buzz, and he’s only won a single (albeit memorable) playoff series in his career. He just doesn’t have the extraneous signifiers of a truly elite goalie. More than anything, if you look at Anderson’s competition it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Craig Anderson is the best goalie in Senators history by default.

Ottawa’s goalie history is littered with big misses and players whose best work was done elsewhere. Pascal Leclaire, Tom Barrasso, Ben Bishop, Alex Auld, Robin Lehner, and Mike Brodeur all make up a Who’s Who of goalies about which you can say “Oh yeah, that guy played for the Sens once”. Among goalies with more than 100 games with the Sens, Damian Rhodes and Ron Tugnutt were a fun tandem with fun names, but the games the Sens won with them were generally in spite of them, not because of them (Rhodes: .902 sv%, Tugnutt: .906 sv%). Brian Elliot and Martin Gerber were even worse than Tugnutt and Rhodes, and while Ray Emery showed flashes of brilliance, he more often showed flashes of immaturity and could only post a .910 sv% on some of the most stacked Senators teams in franchise history. Anderson and Lalime are the only other goalies with more than 100 games played for the Senators and now that Anderson has the most wins and a better sv.%, I guess we’re done here. Craig Anderson is the best goalie in Senators history and he did it by never being bad or young enough to be traded.

This line of analysis, while snappy and factual in a way that Vox could only dream of, does Craig Anderson’s excellence (that’s right, I said excellence) a serious disservice. To understand how excellent Craig Anderson has been, you have to go deeper than his HockeyDB page.

anderson2.png

Look at those numbers season by season and here is the conclusion you draw: Craig Anderson can be excellent when he doesn’t play very much, but he can’t keep a high level over the course of a full season. He hasn’t even touched the Senators gold standard for goaltending consistency: Dominik Hasek posting a .925 sv% in 43 games in 2005-06. Here’s the thing: if you look at his play on a game to game basis, Craig Anderson has actually out-performed Dominik Hasek several times.

anderson

Check out those HockeyDB numbers again. Even though Craig Anderson has been on some garbage Senators teams, he’s never failed to put up a points percentage greater than 50% over the course of a season. No matter how bad the Sens have been, Craig Anderson always gets them more points than they give away. Also, Craig Anderson has a .933 sv% in the playoffs. He’s been at his best when the pressure is highest. ALSO also, Anderson putting up a .941 sv% in 24 games in 2012-13 means he was performing like The Hamburglar before Andrew Hammond even conceived of purloining his first ham. Even the cloud of Anderson’s injury history has its own, largely ignored silver lining which is that he always seems to come back from long layoffs so sharp that it’s as if he never left. After Hamburglar Fever died down in 2015, Anderson entered as the starting goaltender down 0-2 in the series and promptly posted a .977 sv% for the next 4 games. Is there any doubt Ottawa would have beaten the Habs in the playoffs for a second time if Anderson had been starting since Game 1?

But wait, I’M NOT DONE YET! Not only are Craig Anderson’s streaks of peak performance more impressive than any other Sens goalie you could care to name, his play at 5-on-5 puts him among the best goalies of the past 5 years1.

anderson3

Goalies with >4000 minutes played since the start of the 2012 season ranked by save percentage .

Take a hard look at that table. Look at the names on it. The last five Vezina winners are on that list, and since 2012, Craig Anderson has been better than three of them at even strength. For this, he has finished fourth in Vezina voting one time in 2013.

Anderson is so much more than the best Sens goalie; he’s one of the best goalies of his era and no one cares.

Perhaps this is a function of Craig Anderson’s unconventional journey to the top. Anderson was drafted twice, and was bounced between the AHL and backup duties for eight years before he even got a shot at a starter’s job. Then after flaming out in Colorado during his second year as a starter (a year following one which saw him play in 71 regular season games), he saw himself get a shot with his fifth career NHL team at the age of 29. By the time he arrived in Ottawa, all I knew about Craig Anderson was that time he put up a 51 save shutout in that one playoff game where San Jose scored on themselves in overtime, and I also knew that he wasn’t Brian Elliot and was therefore an extremely welcome sight. Things I would find out later is that Anderson is occasionally injury prone, and that he likes Corvettes and The Punisher. This is not the narrative with which the sport of hockey anoints its great ones.

Screw that. I’m anointing him now. He’s one of the great goalies of his day who has made his bones getting a bunch of teams farther than they had any right to get, and he did it by putting in work at the NHL and AHL levels for more than a decade. Anderson’s story is one of persistence, one Ottawa has not adequately appreciated to this point.

If the Sens keep playing hockey deep into this spring, everyone will notice that Craig Anderson is a major reason why. It would behoove us all to not act at all surprised when it happens.

1. Ok, so I’m sample hacking a little bit here by only using 5-on-5 save percentage, but this is what we know to be true: 5-on-4 save percentage is much less repeatable than 5-on-5 save percentage. Therefore, 5-on-5 save percentage is considered a much better indicator of goalie talent than all situations save percentage. A goalie has much more influence over their own save percentage at even strength vs. on the powerplay. My point still stands. There are great goaltenders on that list and Craig Anderson is better than almost all of them.

Dorion Wrong to Defend Burrows Deal

When it comes to yesterday’s trade with the Vancouver Canucks, there appears to be consensus among Sens fans; trading skilled Swedish teen prospect Jonathan Dahlen for the 35-year-old super pest Alex Burrows was a bad move on the part of rookie GM Pierre Dorion.

Trading for Burrows, a player almost twice the age of Dahlen, whose career year came seven years ago, who’s been in steady decline for several seasons, and who was inked to a two-year extension to complete the deal  has been rightly panned by many bloggers and media members.

I share these concerns about the trade. I’m not opposed to trading Dahlen or most prospects really, but the return needs to make sense for the team in the short or long term (ideally both). When it comes to Burrows, he’s probably better than a few current Senators, but any improvement he offers is undermined by the term and financial commitment to Burrows until 2019.

In justifying this trade, Dorion spoke about Burrows as a “character guy” and that he hopes the veteran will influence young prospects like Colin White, Thomas Chabot, and Logan Brown. Here in lies my main problem with this trade. Teams make silly, ill-advised trades all the time, it happens. But when character is your justification, you better make sure the player you are acquiring is actually worthy of such adulation.

However, Alex Burrows isn’t worthy of that praise.

A pest in the classic sense, Burrows is an infuriating player on ice. He’s dirty and known for cheap play. He’s been suspended for reckless, dangerous play and his apparent bite on Patrice Bergeron in the 2011 Cup Final is still remembered. He’s had run-ins with officials. The only reason he’s been on anyone’s radar lately was a recent altercation with Robin Lehner in which Burrows provoked Lehner’s wrath. While I don’t like players who play the game this way, Burrows is in no way unique. All teams have employed players like him before, the Sens are no exception. The Sens currently have a few players whose style of play I don’t like. But that doesn’t mean I want more players like that.

Burrows’ cheap play is not the only reason he shouldn’t be praised as someone of good character. He’s said some truly horrible shit, proving he’s no one’s role model. In December 2015, Patrick O’Sullivan revealed that when both he and Burrows junior and again when they were breaking into the league, Burrows mocked the physical abuse and emotional abuse O’Sullivan suffered at the hands of his father. After O’Sullivan addressed Burrows’ behaviour publicly, Burrows offered a weak apology to O’Sullivan. Burrows expressed remorse if O’Sullivan was offended by his earlier behaviour and explained that the insults were part of his plan to earn more ice time.

It’s possible that in the intervening years between his on ice harassment of O’Sullivan and his belated apology in December 2015 that Burrows matured and grew as an individual and leader. He offered a similar explanation: “I think I’ve matured a lot. I grew as a player and a person and in today’s society, for sure, it’s something I’ve got to be careful [about]. I wouldn’t cross that line now”. A person of character would realize mocking the physical and emotional abuse of a child is simply wrong and unacceptable, not something to be “careful” about, not simply a matter of not getting caught.

But while Burrows claimed he’d matured, the O’Sullivan revelation came a mere month after Jordin Tootoo, the first Inuk player in the NHL and a recovering alcoholic, stated that Burrows made “classless and unacceptable” remarks about Tootoo’s “personal life and family”. For his part, Burrows downplayed the incident, saying that he didn’t cross the line and that “What I said, I’ve been told the same in the past, and I’ve heard it plenty of times throughout my career. I kinda think it should’ve stayed on the ice, where it belongs. For me, I’m just moving on”. It doesn’t matter if Burrows thinks he crossed the line or if his intention was just to get under the skin of his opponent. The impact of his remarks on Tootoo (and O’Sullivan before him) matters more than Burrows’ intent. Burrows’ comfort with repeating offensive remarks he’s heard frequently throughout his career is also troubling.

I’m not naïve, I know NHLers say any number of vile, discriminatory, and offensive things on the ice. But from O’Sullivan and Tootoo’s reaction, it’s clear this isn’t just chirping, it’s something more. It’s also troubling that Burrows has consistently resorted to these types of insults throughout his career; from junior, to his early years in the league, and more recently during his time as a veteran leader on the Canucks, he’s shown little to suggest he’s matured. Burrows is far from the only NHLer to say such things on ice. Andrew Shaw’s suspension last year for calling an official a faggot makes it clear that this language remains a persistent problem in the league. However, that negative spotlight could easily shine on Burrows again.

If you want to justify a trade for a player like Alex Burrows, fine. But stick to hockey justifications and analysis. By making an argument in favour of Burrows’ intangibles and by suggesting Burrows’ character was a desirable addition to the Senators, Dorion endorsed the Burrows who harassed O’Sullivan and Tootoo. What kind of character is that to bring into the room? Why would you want young players like White and Chabot to model the behaviour Burrows has exhibited throughout his career? Simply put, this is a player the Sens shouldn’t endorse.

The Jail Phone: When’s Bobby Ryan Gonna Get It Going (Out of Ottawa)?

hqdefault

Automated voice:
You have received a collect call from an inmate at an Internet Detention Facility. This call will be recorded and blogged for cultural purposes. To accept the charges please press 4 – 2 – 0 – 6 – 9 – 6 – 9 followed by the pound sign.

Luke:
*lets out 14 second long sigh, dials 4206969#, whispers “nice” under his breath*

James:
Luke, bon système a toi, listen, I need to calmly and casually talk to you about Bobby Ryan.
Before you muted me on Twitter you may have caught me defending ol’ hickory ham Bobby from time to time in the past. I would get a rise out of pointing out that he would get slammed if he fell into a scoring slump but would never be praised when he’d get hot and in some cases even float the team offensively for games at a time. This, of course, indicated to me that he’d entered dangerous territory with many fans: The Jason Spezza Memorial You Can’t Win Zone. As the highest paid player on the team, it seemed for many fans that if he wasn’t at his best, well, in the words of whatever Joe Pesci is called in Casino, “The dollars. It’s always the fucking dollars.” My view was that if he wasn’t scoring his expected 30 goals but was at least contributing, I could deal with it.
Well, I’m here to announce today that I’m off that.

I once etched in the marble of Dave Cameron’s Head Coach Mausoleum, “He Played Mark Borowiecki As A Forward More Than Once (More Than Once).” That event was my line in the sand with him. I don’t claim to know nothin’ about no coachings. It’s insanely hard and there’s usually a lot going on behind the scenes that influences decisions that fans are not privy to BUT…how do you not put Binghamton’s best or even just most positionally sound forward in that slot over the team’s worst defenseman who admitted he hadn’t played forward since high school? Like, what is the farm system even for then? Also, fuck you.

Well, after weeks of invisibility, something happened against Dallas that I will likely be unable to forgive: Dion Phaneuf Tied Bobby Ryan In Points. Dion Phaneuf. On a shorthanded goal no less. Come on, man. This would be an unnerving experience in November and here we are past the All Star Break and approaching mid-February. Imagine if on that fateful day when Ryan was traded here that I traveled back in time to tell that guy who did a cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York would be president of the United States and also that you’d soon find Zack Smith or even Ryan Dzingel to be more valuable (or even noticeable) contributors to the team than Bobbito?

Luke:
Imagine tying those two disturbing threads together by mentioning that Bobby Ryan is also a huge fan of President Home Alone. We live in troubled times.

Like you, I also want to mention my Defending Bobby Ryan bonafides. Bobby never really had a chance of being given a fair shake and was always going to be beset by the twin narratives of “We gave up too much to get him” (false) and “We gave him too much to keep him” (Insufficient information, but my dude has to make some changes). Even though Bobbington Q. Ryan’s been a streaky guy since he got to Ottawa, but he’s also improved his production each year. He went from 100th in scoring to 75th in scoring to 60th in scoring over the past 3 years. Those are the sensible 1st line winger numbers of a first line winger. My time defending The Bobberino was always predicated on the idea that the expectations of the fanbase were ridiculous and everyone just had to chill out and realize that my guy had put up the same number of points as Logan Couture, Brad Marchand, and Patrick Hornqvist over the past 3 season.

Where are we at now? Dion Phaneuf tied with Robert Ryan in points, you say? Is Dion just having a particularly good year? Let’s see what kind of company His Bobishness is keeping this year:

bryanpoints

*takes stage at karaoke night*

What are thoooooooooose, what are thoooooooooose, what are thooooooooooooose?

Not only has Corn on the Bob had a bad year statistically, but he also looks wild disinterested on the ice. Erik Karlsson’s has given Bobara Ann (like the Beach Boys song) the business a few times for dogging it back to his own zone on defense. That’s not a good look. If Erik Karlsson so much as blocked me on Twitter, I’d delete my account. I can’t imagine how bad I’d feel if EK actually yelled at me in person for not doing my job well enough.

K. Now that the elephant in the room has now been fully illuminated from all angles by our Woodward-and-Bernsteinian investigation, (Follow up question: WHY ARE WE THE ONLY ONES TALKING ABOUT THIS???), I’d like to mention a few other things:

1) Bobby Ryan’s been through some stuff this past year.
2) Bobby Ryan still might be going through some stuff?
3) I think Bobby Ryan’s politics are terrible. I don’t really have a follow up to that, I just wanted to make it clear.

Having a kid and losing a parent are the sort of things that can happen away from work that can really drastically affect your performance. There was also the weird time earlier this season where Ryan was healthy scratched for an odd reason that neither he, nor Guy Boucher, were willing to comment on publicly. The fact that the Ottawa media is still mostly treating Ryan with kid gloves tells me that they may know something we don’t about why The Bobster is not looking or playing like himself this year. I’m not saying it’s an excuse, but there might be an explanation in there somewhere.

We agree that The Bobblet’s level of play is unacceptable this year, so let me ask you this: what do you want to do about it? Are you at the “Trade this guy for magic beans or someone else’s bad contract” stage yet? Are you willing to give him another season to turn it around? Do you think he even can turn it around? We all have feelings, but when the dust of our heart settles, what must be done?

James:
I think you bring up fair points and I too have thought of these things. It has not been a great time for Bobby personally. If I may apply a more clinical lens to the subject, I will reiterate my concern thusly: After much searching I think Boucher and The System are here to stay and if there is one forward not named Chris Neil that I do not think fits in with The System it is Bobby Ryan.

If, in layman’s terms, I could sum up the game that Boucher has brought to Ottawa: First on puck in the defensive zone, hard along the boards, defensive in the neutral zone, shoot first mentality in the offensive zone. In other words, playoff hockey.
In our most private discussions Luke, you have cited Eric Staal and Thomas Vanek as similar cases of players who had their rep enter the turlet and turned it around in their “post-prime” years. Signed through 2048 with his current stock at a career low, playing on the 3rd line, I VVVVVVV much hope for such a turn around. Where we’re at tho: Even if Ry Guy absolutely wrecked shop and went point per game for the rest of the season he’d hit last season’s point total. We know he’s not going to do that but even if he did, do you think it would take a complete revamp in his playing style to regain Boucher’s trust? Is that more inconceivable than the PPG thing? I’d like to see him succeed but when you see an unheralded 7th round pick like Ryan Dzingel who’s more or less in his rookie season come in and take on the same role and best Bobby at it kind of gets me thinking, could we just get Patrick Eaves to come in and do this shit for a million bananas? It could be wise to free up some money for a slightly better Bobby Ryan. We’ve already possibly lost MacArthur [I love you] for good can we really afford to let another top 6 forward “figure it out”?

Luke:
It’s true that hope is not lost for Calvin and Bobbs, but for every Vanek and Staal there must be a Mike Richards. I think that Ryan’s at a tipping point here. I thought he might have another season or two in him before this happened, but instead it appears that Bob’s Your Uncle has started his “Noticeable Decline” years at the age of 29. Is my guy gonna hit the gym, get some core power, work on the old man strength, and turn into a grindy grinder with good hands who is cash money in the shootout, or is he gonna check out his own CapFriendly page and figure “I’m gonna keep getting cheques for another 5 years so I’m good.”? (Holy god, 5 years? I really wasn’t prepared to have this conversation until 2019 at the EARLIEST.) I hope for the former.

With respect to how Ryan fits into The System, I agree that he has not looked like Guy Boucher’s favourite player at times. However, I think The High Priest of The System may just be starting to come around. After trailing guys like Pyatt and Pageau in icetime for most of the year, Ryan’s finally getting minutes that could be described as “Top 6”. Also Boucher was asked about Bobby Ryan last night, and had nothing but good things to say about him. It might not be too late for an Old Bob to learn a New System.

Still, things are definitively at the point where if the opportunity to move Ryan to another team presents itself, it must be considered extremely seriously. I’ve always said that Bobby Ryan would be difficult to replace via the open market, but this year’s version of Bobby Ryan looks wild easy to replace. If you could trade a Struggling Bobby Ryan + Cody Ceci for A Struggling Gabriel Landeskog, I’d pull the trigger on that faster than a nine year old with a sugar high at laser tag. While earlier this year I’d argued that the Senators should not protect Bobby Ryan during the expansion draft, I can now report that I am off that line of thought entirely, even though the idea of losing Ryan for nothing still strikes me as extremely gross. If I was Pierre Dorion trying to swing a deal, I’d be casually mentioning that all Bobby needs is a change of scenery and hoping that someone agrees. It might be true. Hell, he might only need time to work out whatever it is hangs over his game like a dark cloud. However, the consequences of keeping Ryan and being wrong are far graver than the consequences of losing Ryan and being wrong. Time to make like Better Homes and Gardens and hedge.

The Jail Phone: Win Now Edition

c0002h

Luke: Good day and good System to you, James.

I was still coming down off the high from watching Our Boy Chat Salters on Jeopardy last night when I checked my phone this morning to see the glorious news that Claude Julien had been fired by the Bruins. Now, I am not the most brilliant hockey mind of my generation, but I am someone who reads a few things and here are the things I know:

a) The Bruins’ Fancy Stats were very good
b) The Bruins’ roster consists of Patrice Bergeron, Ratticus from Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective, a 39 year old Zdeno Chara who has the skating mobility of the continent of Australia, and 18 different versions of Adam McQuaid.
c) Given the dubious roster, you’d have to think Claude Julien was pretty much the only thing keeping the Bruins afloat and you’d have to be an idiot to fire him.
d) The Bruins’ front office consists almost exclusively of idiots.

Conclusion: the firing of a good coach can only be a good thing for the Ottawa Senators because it’s extremely unlikely the next Bruins coach will not be as good. Interestingly, Julien’s the second coach fired in the Atlantic Division this year, and there’s a good reason for that: the Atlantic Division is terrrrrrrrrrrrrrible. The Atlantic has been so bad that the Sens sit in 2nd place basically by accident. Ottawa has been occasionally good, and occasionally bad, and they had to trade for someone’s 3rd string goaltender who they then played for 37 straight games, and this has been good enough for 2nd place! That’s home ice in the first round! God Bless The System.

This situation has got me thinking: If the Sens might make the playoffs by accident this year, what would happen if they actually tried to Win Now by trading for some players who will help them Win Now? Who are Ottawa’s likely opponents in the first two rounds of the playoffs? A young and inexperienced Toronto team, and Montreal, the NHL’s least intimidating “elite” team. Ottawa would have a decent chance against both those teams now, so why not try to acquire a player or two who might give them an even better chance to make the Conference Finals?

Am I crazy James? This is all I can think about?

James: And may the grace of The System (peace be upon It) also be with your spirit, Brother Luke .

Standing ovation to Chet, whose real name, Chet Boyardee, was revealed last night on his impressive performance on the best game show of all time Jeopardy! (the fuck is up with that exclaimation mark tho?). The podcast brand has never been stronger and thankfully he did not mention this blog keeping us in our rightful place as 7th most popular Ottawa Senators/Erotic Barbershop Music blogs.

Re: Tomorrow’s Sun headline: JULIEN FRIED
I had heard that there’d been some personality clashes twixt Julien and The Bruins Brass (who seem truly pretty fucking stupid – check out Seguin tape and past) and he’d been hanging on by his Cup ring sporting pinky for quite sometime. I can’t recall the sources because I did a lot of LSD in high school but I’m pretty damn sure I heard that.

Anyway, true indeed that it’s a crushing way to get eliminated from playoff contention by YOUR Ottawa Senators (6 to 1 BTFingW) in the 82nd game of the season. But also, I don’t think a guy who brought your franchise it’s first Stanley Cup since Nixon traveled to China to begin talks with Mao is the fall guy. H_ck, he got them back to them Final the season following the Cup win and even nabbed the least talked about President’s Trophy in NHL history all the way back in 2014 AKA Covered Wagon Tymes.
I’ma chalk this one up to the classic “it’s not like this guy forgot how to be a good NHL coach.”

Me, I can’t speak for his personality but I think Boston’s welcome decline has been more due to big roster shaping events like absolutely, positively fucking up the gift of the Phil Kessel trade. You know shit is quiet for your team’s management when the laughter transitions from Toronto to your front office. Damn. I wont rehash all the details but its bad enough not having Tyler Seguin and Douglas Hamilton to show for the first round picks they got bur they don’t even have Loui Eriksson who they traded Seguin for anymore. Plus, they lost him for nothing! SMH.
Also, clearly it’s Coach Julien’s fault Zdeno Chara is turning 40 next month. He’s probably also to blame for management missing Colin White, Thomas Chabot and Joel Eriksson Ek with their THREE first round picks in 2015 but at least they drafted Malcolm Subban, rocking that 2.58 GAA in the AHL with a first. In conclusion, they made the right call just like they did when they decided that a young, perennial all star who puts up an average of about 35 goals per year was not in keeping with the Bruins Culture™. I couldn’t agree more.

You’re not brazy to propose a win-now trade given the weakness of the division. It sounds like you’re not talking a typical Scottie Upshall (The OTHER Tommy Wingels) bottom six bolstering but more a Landeskog / Duchene type ‘really fr_gging go for it’ type situation aren’t you? You know that’s gonna be a painful ass get, huh?

Luke: I think the plan right now is to have College White bolster the bottom six at the conclusion of the school year, and I personally couldn’t be more excited. I think some combination of White-Kelly-Lazar-Wingels-The Conspicuous Absence of Chris Neil has just enough zest to form a credible 4th line, and I don’t think there’s anything with the Top 6 that can’t be solved by putting a magic hat on Bobby Ryan (more to follow on this later this week).

So yes, I’m talking Big Splashes here. I’ve very much enjoyed the surprise success Ottawa has had (so far) this season, but even when wearing my most United in Red Tinted goggles, I can’t say that I think this is a team that is a few minor tweaks away from becoming an approximation of a serious threat. Luckily, I think there are some major tweaks on the board that P.R. Dorion might consider playing.

With Colorado playing as bad as the Sabres team Tim Murray had to tank for 2 YEARS, they are beginning to acquire the air of a team that might do something stupid just because they think it’s better than doing nothing at all. Matt Duchene is now at the point of his trade rumours where he just goes “I don’t mind getting traded if it means you all stop asking me about it.” (AKA The Jason Spezza Zone), and Gabriel Landeskog is having the sort of season Bobby Ryan is having only if Bobby Ryan was playing on a team that was much MUCH worse and was also THE CAPTAIN. I don’t know how seriously either of those guys are being shopped, but they’re the types of players who would improve anyone’s team in the short and long term.

Here’s a guy I really want, though: Kevin Shattenkirk. He’s got offensive chops, he’s extremely good at protecting the front of his net, he’s in the last year of a $4.25MM deal, and he’s on a team that’s barely clinging to a playoff spot, just fired their coach, has Jake Allen as their starting goalie, and just lost Robby Fabbri to injury for the rest of the year. The conditions are ripe to snag this guy as a rental.

Not only would Shattenkirk be a welcome addition as a good player, but he allows other players to slot in more comfortably in the lineup. Here are my dream defensive pairings:

Karlsson – Shattenkirk
Ceci – Methot
Wideman – Phaneuf

Ceci – Methot and Wideman – Phaneuf pairings have shown excellent Fancy Stat results in limited minutes (about 4 games worth) this season, and Karlsson’s great with everyone he plays with, except apparently Marc Methot this season (seriously they’re getting crushed in the Fancy Stats this year, which I know doesn’t show the whole story, but also isn’t meaningless either).

I don’t know what the cost of a Shattenkirk rental would be, but I’d be willing to give up nearly any prospect other than Chabot to make it happen. Who are the objects of your affection, James? Who are the Untouchables? Who would you part with gladly?

James: I’m confused. College White? That could literally describe any student enrolled at Boston College. Anyway, kokedreams korner, after the watching the World Juniors I think Colin White could step right in as a 4th liner and be the best 4th liner the Sens have. Also, Wingels has been an improvement so far. No need to do anything there. Don’t @ me.

In an NHL with very few major trades per season now, a terrible team like Colorado offering up two of its best players for some reason, is an opportunity as rare as Mr. Clean with hair. Dorion would have to plug his nose and likely give up a great package of pick(s)/player(s)/prospect(s) to make shit real and get one of those guys but with known commodities like Duchene or Landeskog you cant really miss…Right? I mean that’s what I said about trading for Bobby Ryan and his stock has never been lower for me! What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, your divorce. No, the big thing is, The Sens have some really good offensive weapons but its kind of fucked knowing that Clarke MacArthur may never play again. Even if he does return, I hate to say it, but it has to be acknowledged that he’d re-enter the line up having not played an NHL game in two full seasons. Think about how long it’s taking Anderson to get back to game shape after missing two months. It would be unfair to expect much more than a limited role from Clarkey until further notice.

This problem with the top 6 comes in addition to top line forward Roberto Ryan magically becoming less effective than Ryan “Unheralded Rookie 7th Round Pick making 750K” Dzingel. We need a dependable top 6 forward contingency plan now that we can’t count on Grizz returning to form (or even returning to be really, really real) and that’s compounded by Bob Ryan’s unannounced early retirement.

Fortune favors the brazy, P.R. Dorion, and I’m too much of a coward to even propose a trade that would get this done (thanks for reading, btw). I can’t help but think that Logan Brown’s best case scenario tops out to BECOME as good as Duchene or Landeskog. I doubt that would do it. Still, remember how the asking price for Patrick Sharp was a still in Junior at the time Curtis Lazar? Gotta no look pass on that tho because Lazar gunna grow up to be like TWO Patrick Sharps…right…riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight? *dies* *unfortunately, comes back to life* let’s move on…

Shattenkirk is a very interesting proposition. I have to admit I’m salivating at the idea of bumping all the left side defenders down a pairing. No shade to the boi Marc Methot, I do think he’s a solid partner for EK. He reliably hangs back and lets 65 hit us with The Art. One thing that increasingly bothers me with each passing season, however, is that Meth has next to ZERO offensive upside. It can be painful to watch him defer to a double covered Karlsson over and over again when he gets the puck. You can plainly see that the opposition is fully aware that if Methot gets the puck at the point he’s dishing it right. The only thing that makes the scenario work is that Karlsson happens to be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart of defensemen and he could get shots off even with triple coverage. Still, imagine a world where it wasn’t guaranteed that a possible shot from the left side of the top pairing wouldn’t be a wobbler? Be still, expired pizza pop where my heart should be. Having two good point shooters means more rebounds means more Mark Stone making goaltenders his first born son in the low slot.

The benefits would continue down the D corps. Methot could continue his Johnny Cash rhythm guitar level steadiness and allow Ceci to be the trigger man he has completely gotten away from being and hopefully build back his confidence. Lastly, your bottom pair would be Wideman – Phaneuf. That would give your 5-6 slots two pretty serious shooters (say what you will about Dion, dude’s got 6 goals and 20 points). Wideman could open it up a bit and Phaneuf’s toughness would make Mark Borowiecki completely obsolete. *dusts hands*

In conclusion, I also hold the CONTROVERSIAL opinion that it would be quite beneficial to substantially upgrade Ottawa’s defense. What would I give up? I mean, like you said, he’s a rental (tho Ottawa hasn’t been terrible at retaining UFAs but I digress) I’d give up Lazar. He’s been awful but I guess he still has potential? A goaltender of STL’s choice of O’Connor or Dreiger, my guess is they don’t want Hammond after seeing him on Tuesday. Lastly throw in someone good? Jesus would you have to give up the love my life Jean Gabriel Pageau to make this happen? Giving up JGP would not exactly help Ottawa’s playoff hopes to lose JGP. He was put on this earth for the playoffs. Is this trade proposition HF Boards level terrible? I’m not good at this (thank you again, sincerely, for reading).

Cokedreams Conclusion: Shayne Gostisbehere for GOOD PHILLY BOY AND EVER’THINK LIKE THAT Bobby Ryan and one of the above mentioned goaltenders. Philly is about to lose Steve Mason and that is apparently a bad thing.

Luke: Yeah, in a post Hall-for-Larsen/Subban-for-Weber/Jones-for-Johansen World, I just have no idea what it takes to get trades going anymore. Seems like there’s a lot of other factors to be taken into account like “Is this guy’s contract a problem?” or “Are we likely to lose this guy in the expansion draft anyway?” that I would find hard to balance. Also, this year’s 1st round pick might be in play because this is considered such a weak draft. On the other hand, presumably everyone knows this is a weak draft so maybe a 1st just won’t get you what it used to. The value of these things fluctuates like the price of gold.

Still, can’t hurt to go for fleeting short term glory. The line these days is “The Sens have one playoff series win since 2008”, and making a move now could help change that. Do it, Pierre. Pick up the phone. You have nothing to lose except picks, prospects, and a roster player.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply