Senators News: January 24th

-Ottawa plays Florida (1-2-0) tonight in a re-match of their last game; Brian Campbell, Jonathan Huberdeau, and ex-Sen Alex Kovalev are tied for the lead in points (3 each), Jose Theodore is the starter (1-1-0 2.50 .937).  Here’s the NHL’s game preview.

Ken Warren thinks the Sens third line (Colin Greening-Zack Smith-Chris Neil) have been excellent so far:

The three have been invaluable through the opening two games against the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers, either creating or maintaining sustained pressure inside the opposition blue-line, causing turnovers and wearing down defencemen.

That’s certainly what the line is supposed to do, but Ken must have been watching different games because to me they’ve been the least effective trio on the team.  They’ve had difficulty maintaining puck control on offense and have struggled defensively.  I think the group would be more effective with a strong puck control player inserted–time, of course, will tell.  Greening summed up what the line is supposed to do:

The biggest thing for us is try to keep it simple, keep the puck going forward. If we start going side to side, that’s when we get into trouble. We want to get cycling. We’re three big bodies. It’s fun when you’re playing down in their end.

The Raaymaker discusses the decision to send Robin Lehner down and one thing puzzled me:

Bishop undoubtedly knows that he’s in tough against both Anderson and Lehner, and realizes that he’s once again playing as much to impress other teams as to help his team. He’s a pending restricted free agent who won’t likely be re-signed by the Ottawa Senators, which means if he’s not traded mid-season his rights will almost certainly be dealt in the summer. Bishop also must realize, however, that this situation was engineered by Bryan Murray, and it’s also been handled just about perfectly by the Senators’ GM. The Senators acquired Bishop for pennies on the dollar last year, but they’re not excited to give him up at such a steep discount. It seems likely that Murray’s initial plan was to hold on to Bishop for the whole season before making a decision, but that timeline has been expedited by both Lehner‘s maturity and dominance as well as the sudden need for a top-four defenceman in light of Jared Cowen‘s season-ending injury.

So Murray planned for Alex Auld to be awful, Robin Lehner to have an off year, and Craig Anderson to slice his hand with an ice pick so that he could trade his 2013 2nd round pick for Bishop?  Given how hard it has been for the Sens to acquire 2nd round picks I don’t see that price for an impending RFA as cheap.  Otherwise I agree with his sentiments.

Scott reports that Bob McKenzie is convinced Ben Bishop is the odd-man out in Ottawa’s goaltending situation, but that Roberto Luongo is “gumming up the works” on goalie trades.  Given Bishop‘s affordability, I can’t imagine it will be that hard for Murray to move him.  Lyle Richardson takes a look at the possibility of Bishop going to the Oilers, but doesn’t believe Edmonton can afford the assets (defensemen) Ottawa wants.  This sounds plausible, although I wonder if Murray would accept a high draft pick for Bishop.  Others have speculated that because of the injury to Phoenix’s Mike Smith they might be another market (Smith‘s backup Jason LaBarbera can’t handle the load).  I think the situation will be resolved sooner than later.

Jeremy Milks was getting impatient with Jakob Silfverberg because through a few periods he didn’t think he was a fit on the top line–he was hankering for the good old days of Colin Greening.  I’m glad Jeremy found patience and I have no idea why he didn’t think there was chemistry–Silfverberg has been fine through two games.

Alan Muir thinks staged fights are helpful in the NHL because…well he doesn’t actually offer tangible reasons for it.  He says they are good for the losing team too, which makes his logic: staged fights are good because they have no impact on the outcome of the game.  Er, what?

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)