Ottawa Senators – Chalk It And Change It

Matt McKechnie March 2, 2014 12
michalekblowottawasenators.com

After a few nights of drunken hazes, greasy shame meals and crying to the full catalogue of Spandau Ballet, I think we can all agree that the Ottawa Senators stunk the joint out against the Red Wings.

And yes – they have been outscored 13-3 in their last two games (losing 7-2 in Boston before the Olympic break), but I think it’s important to look at the reasons why that has happened.

Losing 6-1 in their own rink against the Alfie-sauced ‘Hot’ Wings on Thursday, the Sens gave up two goals in thirty seconds off two terrible turnovers in their own end, another for good measure before the period let out, and then let the Wings score on the PP.

The Lehner looked a bit lost, but at least three of those goals weren’t his fault. The Sens D core left him stranded, forcing the newly head-shorn goalie to react quicker than he could have (with or without his precious mane).

So what happened? What’s the real deal here? Sports writers are the worst speculators and team-coddlers at times, so I’m going to try a different, tough-love approach with the team that I know and adore.

THE REASONS:

1. JARED COWEN IS NOT GOOD: Although I agree with most of you, in that Cowen’s play has improved over the season, the question must be this; Improved…from what? Even though I’ve never played anything more than Saturday night pick-up hockey, it’s easy to see that Cowen, all season long, has never really known where he should be on the ice. Breaking out the puck? Sure. He’s alright. At the point? Yeah – he’s got a powerful shot. In his own end? He’s slow, oafish, losing his assignment, and nine times out of 10, he’s chasing the play. He was on the ice for those first two t-minus 30 second deflater goals in the first, and even gave away the puck once, to boot. Trade him, deal him, send him down…whatever. I just think that after 140 some odd games in the NHL, this guy does not have the chops to be so highly valued.

2. GREENING, CONDRA AND SMITH ARE INVISIBLE: These three guys, though overshadowed by some of the super-skill players on their team (Ryan, Karlsson, Spezza, Turris) are the heart and soul of this Sens squad, and every solider in the Sens Army knows it. In games where the RABHA needed a boost, these three have always provided a goal, a hit, a steal or something pivotal to lift the spirits of their team. My question is this; Where have they been lately? Working hard? Sure. Hitting hard? Not really. Scoring? I can’t remember the last time any of these guys graced the score sheet. If the Sens have a chance, these three need to play a part, and should maybe even be permanent linemates.

3. LEHNER IS KINDA BAD AND CRAIG ANDERSON IS AVERAGE: There is no question that the goaltending of the Sens is at least 60% of why they made it to the second round last year, and even into the playoffs the year before. That bedrock foundation has not been there this season. Whether it’s mental, positional or just bad luck, these two guys have not been able to provide the Capital Crease with any kind of national security.

4. THE SENS ARE NOT A CONSISTENT TEAM: One of my favourite NBA players of all time was John Starks from the New York Knicks. Sometimes able to shoot the lights out from the three-line, this guy provided the Knicks with some serious electricity in the 90′s and he EVEN dunked over Jordan once (look it up – it’s true). Here’s the question (noticing a theme yet)? Who remembers Starks today? A few. Maybe a handful. In the end, the consistent players and teams are the ones that go down in the annals of history. The Sens have not been a consistent team this year. Anyone with a sane mind can see that. Ryan has added some offense, but he goes a lot of games without scoring. Karlsson is one of the best players in the NHL, but some nights, he makes a lot of mistakes and gets visibly frustrated with himself and his team. Spezza is one of the most talented offensive skill players in the league, but he still makes some bad passes, doesn’t really know how to backcheck and his plus minus is in the toilet. Turris and MacArthur? Love em…but where were they when their team needed some offense against the Wings? If those are our best players, it’s hard not to read between the lines.

 

THE OUTLOOK: 

Am I saying this season is over? Noway. I love this team and I know that the RABHA, as inconsistent as they are, can find ways to win – even when they are down and out and in the most dire circumstance. But being five points back of the wildcard spot, with only 20-some-odd games left in the season, means that they will almost have to become a different team in a short amount of time to secure any sort of postseason dream.

The RABHA will drop the rubber against the Canucks in the Heritage Classic at BC Place today at 4 PM EST. (If you don’t know about the Heritage Classic, that’s okay. It’s really not that important. It’s just another game.)