Go to the Senators home page, click on “News.” You’ll laugh your ass off.
“Senators Working Towards Major Turnaround.” “Alfredsson: We believe that we can be better.” “Sens GM Maintains Belief Turnaround Is Possible.” “Senators Carrying Optimism Into Season’s Second Half.”
Translation: “We know we suck, we’ll try to do better.”
Looking at the team statistics, it is easy to see what’s wrong: offense. Two (that’s ‘2’, as in less than ‘3’) players have more than 10 goals, three have 20+ points, and exactly one of the skaters in the regular lineup has a positive plus-minus. This is not a team that goes on a scoring spree, to say the least.
Daniel Alfredsson is the sole member of the 10G/20P club, but keeping on the same pace would put him at career-low offensive numbers. Mike Fisher has more than ten goals, so we have to believe that wife Carrie Underwood is feeding his trouser mouse some of that gee-tar twangin’ cheese. Other than that, offensive disappointments Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, and Alex Kovalev are wallowing in neutral, and threatening to go into reverse.
Every one of the Sens’ top-six defensemen has a negative plus-minus, and their goaltenders are struggling to keep their GAA below 3.00. PP and PK are both middling at best. It is nearly impossible to find any area of the game where the Ottawa Senators excel. Not surprisingly, the bloggers are staging a revolt, and the press is trying their best to put a positive spin on things. But the most recent indignity started the torch-and-pitchfork crowd to howling at the moon: losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs, at home, by a score of 5 – 1.
This is the team that arrives in Chicago tonight to take on a Blackhawks team that is trying to discover what it is good at, too. There’s no telling which version of the Blackhawks will show up on any given night.
Is it the version with the 50% conversion rate power play? Or the can’t get the puck out of our own zone power play?
Is it the version with the Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith? Or the oops another one got past me while I was thinking about candy bracelets Duncan Keith?
Is it the version with the two goal per game Patrick Kane? Or the skate aimlessly around in the neutral zone and wonder if the organist is going to play “Freebird” Patrick Kane?
Is it the version with the aggressive power forward Bryan Bickell? Or the was he actually on the ice tonight Bryan Bickell?
Is is the version with the pass directly to an opponent allowing a goal against us Nick Boynton? Or the… oh, wait… That’s the only version we have.
The question of the starting goaltender has been answered consistently with the name Corey Crawford of late, and that is the case again tonight. We’re now to the point of asking the question, are we working Crawford too hard? Can he take 3 out of 4 starts and still keep up his stamina down the stretch?
And if you had told me at the beginning of the season that I would be asking that question before the All-Star break, I would have told you to stop sniffing Oxy-Clean.
Jeff was pretty much right on the money the other day: this is our team, and we’re going to have to learn to live with it. My hope is, given this fact, GM Stan Bowman will pick youth over experience, eat the first year of the contract on players like Jeremy Morin and Nick Leddy and start getting them ready for the playoffs. Even if the change in personnel doesn’t help the team, having those young players spend half a season at this level will make them all the more prepared for a full 82-game schedule next year.
Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part, but the club did demote Jassen Cullimore on Thursday and early Friday recalled Leddy. Leddy has played 6 games with the big club this season, and any more than 10 takes the big bite out of his contract status. Morin is already at 10 games. We’ll see.
More line juggling on tap for tonight, as if that’s news. I’m not going to break down the lines Coach Joel Quenneville was experimenting with on Thursday, other than to say that they did not include John Scott at wing. But as usual, come the third period we could see anyone on that fourth line from Jordan Hendry to Florent Robidoux to Snooki the way QStache plays musical wingers.
Puck drops at the usual 7:30pm tonight at the U.C. Comcast SportsNet has the TV coverage locally, Canadian fans can enjoy the French-language coverage of RDS north of the border. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers will hear the game on channel 206.