Senators News: October 14th

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan gleefully writes about Nikita Filatov‘s demotion to Binghamton (link).  He quotes Bryan Murray, “He wasn’t playing and the indication from the coaches was that he wasn’t going to be playing over the weekend. He’s a young player, he has to play. If he’s going to be a player on our team, we want him to be a Top 6 forward. Skill level indicates that’s what he should be.”  The Ottawa Citizen‘s Allen Panzeri, who doesn’t have an axe to grind with Filatov, so includes a further quote from Murray in his story (link), “We’ve asked (Filatov) to play hard, have the right frame of mind, and that’s  what he says he’s going to do.”  Joy Lindsay has the most complete look at the move (link), making the point that Filatov is on on an entry-level contract which makes sending him down easier and cheaper. “That was part of it [his contract]. The other part was we had extra bodies, and we didn’t want one guy sitting around who we couldn’t see getting back in the lineup the next couple games. The best way to try to get him to get his game going is playing games down there, just competing, playing the way we want him to play.”

So what can be gleaned from all this?  First, neither major publication really delved into the issue, but more to the point: Filatov wasn’t going to play this weekend and Murray believes he needs to play.  The only other roster player who could have been sent down was Stephane Da Costa, but he’s played too well to be demoted.  I don’t think Filatov will have any issues in Binghamton in the short term.  Looking ahead, it’s hard to imagine at this point that the Sens will keep Mika Zibanejad and then the decision on Filatov will be a matter of injuries and Da Costa.

-This morning Pierre McGuire’s segment on The Team 1200 (link) believes there’s a need to worry about Craig Anderson, “He shows flashes of brillance and then for some reason it won’t kick in.”  McGuire says that his problem is he gets comfortable and then doesn’t respond well to the pressure of being the starter.

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Waynce Scanlan and James Gordon had an online chat with Sens fans today (link) and Scanlan made some interesting comments: “I think the Senators are going to be grilled about the contract to Phillips, to Anderson, Gonchar, Kuba. They’re paying these guys big $ and for what? To head to a lottery pick. It’s going to be a long year, last night we got a sense of just how long it will be.”  I like his general point, but the latter two contracts were signed before the team started the rebuild so are more a product of being difficult to move than desired.  “I think MacLean felt pressure from within the org to get Butler into the lineup, and to do something about Lee, who sat for so many games last year. BUT, he didn’t want to sit Rundblad, so he played, but just 12 minutes, not enough time to break a sweat. He doesn’t look comfortable yet, to me.”  I agree completely with Scanlan here.  I don’t think MacLean has been impressed by Butler and I think he’d prefer to play the dynamic Rundblad over Lee.

-Joy Lindsay has posted the lines prior to tonights game (link): Filatov-Locke-Daugavins, Cowick-O’Brien-Parrish, Grant-Cannone-Hoffman, Gratchev-Hamilton-Lessard; Borowiecki-Conboy, Gryba-Schira, Heshka-WierciochPeterssonDziurzynski, Caporusso, and Raymond are the scratches (the first two are dinged up), while McKenna gets the start.

The Hockey News has posted its AHL predictions (link), with Binghamton in 9th (on the outside looking in).

-Tonight is also the first game of the season for the Elmira Jackals.

Ottawa 1, Colorado 7

Tonight’s game was an ugly one for the Senators, with virtually nothing positive to glean from it.  Ottawa struggled all night to make simple passes and when in the offensive zone they were reluctant to shoot the puck.  I won’t repeat the box score (link), but I will take a brief look at who was responsible for the goals scored against.
1. Hejduk‘s second goal was created by Milan Michalek leaving his position to chase a bouncing puck
2. Landeskog‘s goal starts with an Erik Karlsson turnover, but if Mika Zibanejad gets better body position or takes the stick of the Colorado rookie there’s no goal
3. Lindstrom‘s first goal comes off an unfortunate bounce from Rundblad‘s stick, but it’s not the rookie’s check who scores the goal–Chris Phillips is late coming back to check to Colorado scorer
4. Duchene‘s goal comes off another Karlsson turnover, but if Chris Phillips simply keeps proper positioning the goal doesn’t happen
5. Winnik‘s shorthanded goal is scored on a 2-on-1 against Rundblad; the rookie stays with the potential pass, leaving the shot to Anderson, but becomes a screen for the scorer as he gets backed in too far
6. Jones‘ rebound goal is a product of Anderson over committing to the shot and Bobby Butler not coming down low to support the D
7. Lindstrom‘s second goal is courtesy of a great pass, but Jason Spezza is far out of position as the penalty killer and doesn’t have his stick in the lane

The point of all this is that while there were rookie mistakes tonight, a lot of the problems were caused by the team’s veterans.  It’s also not too early to say that Craig Anderson needs to get his act together.  He needs to make a save now and again to help his team out.  I also don’t think the coaching staff are going to be happy with the late, dumb frustration penalties taken by Chris Neil and particularly Zack Smith (the likelihood of Smith being suspended for his hit on Landeskog seems high).

There weren’t any great performances tonight, but a few players were worse than others:
Bobby Butler – I think if he was on a two-way it wouldn’t have been Filatov going to Binghamton; he struggled again tonight
Chris Phillips – mental errors cost his team goals when the game was still in doubt

In the post-game interview (link) Paul MacLean gave Colorado a lot of credit for the win.  He said he wasn’t happy with special teams, but didn’t single any players out for playing badly.