Ottawa at the 40-Game Mark

Ottawa has reached the 40-game mark (excluding last night’s 4-3 win over Boston), so it’s time to take stock and see how the team has performed (for the previous segment go here).  The Sens went 7-10-3, which puts them tied for 12th in the conference and they remain 6th in the division.  Their 111 goals for is tied for 3rd in the conference and their 131 goals against is 16th (last).  Ottawa has the 14th best powerplay (18.7%), and their penalty killing (79.3%) is 24th.  Their poor record is a dip from their first 20-games and virtually confirms this as a lost season.

Player’s stats (AHL=games in the AHL):

Erik Karlsson 20-3-14-17 -12
Clarke MacArthur 20-8-8-16 Even
Bobby Ryan 20-7-7-14 -1
Jason Spezza 19-2-10-12 -9
Kyle Turris 20-4-6-10 +5
Mika Zibanjad 18-4-6-10 -7
Patrick Wiercioch 13-2-5-7 Even
Zack Smith 20-4-3-7 -4
Chris Phillips 19-1-5-6 Even
Cory Conacher 18-1-4-5 -1
Marc Methot 15-1-6-7 -5
Colin Greening 20-3-2-5 -6
Milan Michalek
20-3-2-5 -16
Joe Corvo
13-2-2-4 -5
Erik Condra 20-2-1-3 +3
Chris Neil 20-2-1-3 -4
Cody Ceci 8-1-1-2 -1 [AHL 9-0-4-4 +3]
Jared Cowen
17-0-2-2 -1
Eric Gryba 8-0-1-1 Even
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 8-1-0-1 -2 [AHL 8-3-2-5 +1]
Derek Grant 7-0-1-1 Even [AHL 9-1-5-6 +1]
Mark Borowiecki 5-0-0-0 -2 [AHL 8-1-0-1 -2]
Matt Kassian 6-0-0-0 -1
Mike Hoffman 3-0-0-0 -2 [AHL 13-6-8-14 +1]

Robin Lehner 2-7-1 2.68 .922
Craig Anderson 5-3-2 3.26 .901

Many obvious truths are borne out by the basic numbers: MarArthur has been a fantastic free agent acquisition, his season largely wasted amidst a struggling lineup; Michalek‘s career has completely come off the rails as his production has vanished and he sports the worst plus/minus on the team by a large stretch (I’m aware of the weakness of plus/minus as a stat, but think it means something in this case); Spezza‘s struggles continue; Karlsson‘s big minus number seems largely based in trying to do too much, but his production remains astounding; Turris‘ offensive numbers are back in their normal range; Conacher continues to look like a Brandon Bochenski clone in terms of production; there’s no apparent reason for Paul MacLean’s love affair in having Phillips and Neil on the powerplay (or the latter playing much at all); it’s difficult to suss out the reasoning behind some of the rotation on the blueline, albeit Gryba and Corvo seem to have drawn the short straws most of the time (which makes sense); Kassian remains on the roster for no reason whatsoever; the team’s inability to win with Lehner in net remains puzzling; Anderson‘s numbers are starting to return to normal.  Ceci‘s addition, if it remains permanent, should involve moving either Gryba or Corvo–I don’t see a market for either, so I’d guess sending the former to the minors.  It looks as though the coaching staff has finally accepted that Zibanejad should play with better players, although their reluctance to do so in general makes me hesitant to say they’ve seen the light.  I’d like to see Wiercioch regularly in the lineup, but MacLean’s love of Cowen makes that unlikely.  Spezza‘s TOI should reflect the fact that he’s the team’s second best center, but I don’t think the coaching staff is willing to go down that path.

Despite the glut of blueliners on the team and in the organisation, rumours continue to swirl around acquiring Michael Del Zotto and I just don’t see the point in making that move (putting aside the fact that the Sens have to go dollar-for-dollar to get him).  At this point I think a good portion of the team’s struggles are directly related to poor coaching decisions.  It’s an odd thing to say about what’s considered a great coaching staff, but there are things apparent both to simple observation and via various analytical measures that make me see it this way.  One of the most obvious things is the long rope MacLean gives to his veterans, even after it’s clear they simply aren’t capable of improving their play.  Can the team improve?  I think they can (their underlying numbers have), but the playoffs seem out of reach at this stage.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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6 Comments

  1. Unfortunately for Paul Maclean and the staff, its clear some moves are imposed from above. Cowen being constantly played (and sat only once) for the first half reeked of orders from the GM. Kassian is in because the team cant afford the extra contract.

    It is also clear that the veterans still carry a lot of weight in the room as you have said to the detriment of the roster, I really hope Phillips is not resigned and Neil should be on the 4th line until he retires.

    Having said all this, Ottawa dug its own grave. Our defence core consists of a rookie, 3 sophomores, 2 players at the very end of their careers and expected this to hold behind Methot-Karlsson. That is a recipe for disaster. Numbers suggested the goaltending would regress and it has, along with the PK. Discipline is once again an issue.

    If Spezza’s injury is once again back related (but not season ending), trade him for assets as this team cannot afford to spend money on an increasingly unusable asset. PR disaster be dammed. I feel bad for Michalek, he just lost so much to knee injuries.

    Thank god the products of the summer (MacArthur, Ryan) have worked out so well.

    • I’m not sure if Cowen’s TOI is a directive from Murray–I suppose it’s possible, but I’m uncomfortable with that speculation unless there’s some substance behind it. As for Kassian…what an awful, awful trade that was last year, and how sad is it that Melnyk won’t let them jettison such a small contract after giving the green light to bury Jim O’Brien in Binghamton. The blueline components aren’t all that bad, but how they’ve been utilized is puzzling. I don’t see a market for Spezza this year–*maybe* next season. I’d like them to let Phillips go, but I don’t think they will. The love affair MacLean has with Smith and Neil frustrates me as much as anything.

      • Smith is actually not that bad when you consider the other options for deployment. I fully back Paul Maclean trying to have Zjad avoid the hardest minutes against the opponent and as good as Turris has been, having him and Ryan/Mac go power on power for deployment requires a competent second line. And well fuck Neil because he has had bad year end of story. Even Yost who absolutely hates the line (with statistical justification) admitted over the weekend he understood the coaches reasons. A big question will be how well Zjad does at center if Spezza continues to be out, if he pulls better possession numbers thing might change.

        As for Cowen, Garrioch (or maybe Brennan, it was a Sun columnist on the team 1200 pregame show) mentioned back when he got sat that there was a clear message from management to have Cowen play through the rough patch until he gets it together, so Im not just spewing hot air.

      • Smith isn’t bad by any means, but he plays way too much. Neil (and Phillips) on the powerplay is inexplicable other than “rewarding” a veteran. Zbad only grudgingly gets time–they should play the hell out of him–why not? Wasn’t trying to suggest you were making shit up, I just hadn’t heard that. I’m not a fan of management dictating lineups, but it does happen.

  2. […] Ottawa at the 40-Game Mark […]

  3. […] now), so it’s time to take stock and see how the team has performed (for the previous segment go here).  The Sens went 12-6-4, which puts them tied for 11th in the conference (one up from 22 games […]


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