Senators News: September 25th

-Here is the projected lineup for the Sens tonight: Michalek-Da Costa-Ryan; MacArthur-Turris-Conacher; Greening-Zibanejad-Condra; Kassian-Pageau-Neil; Methot-Karlsson; Phillips-Corvo; Claesson-Wiercioch; Nathan Lawson will play the full game.  As others have pointed out, this is very close to a full NHL lineup (although part of me cringes with the defensive abilities of a Phillips-Corvo pairing).

-Last night the Sens beat the Leafs 3-2 in a game heavily populated with Binghamton players.  The quality of play was sloppy, but the game was entertaining and Ottawa dominated.  Performances were good in general with the exceptions of Cody Ceci and Joe Corvo who struggled defensively.  Patrick Wiercioch continued his strong pre-season, Jared Cowen was rusty in his debut, Jim O’Brien tried to buff his trade appeal, Corey Cowick had a good night, and Stephane Da Costa and Andre Petersson continue to generate a lot of scoring chances.  Here’s the boxscore (Travis Yost also looks at the game, focussing on Da Costa‘s future).  Paul MacLean said afterwards:

They are making it hard. That’s great to see — the competition level of the camp has been very good and it increases every day. I thought there were a lot of guys that had very good games.

Wayne Scanlan says roleplayers Chris Neil and Zack Smith will increase in value down the road (in the season), writing:

Wait till the fur flies on the regular season, and see if these two physical forwards don’t find themselves playing valuable minutes for the Senators once again.

Wayne points out both played more last season than previously, but doesn’t associate it with injury problems.  Did the players thrive with their increased role?  No thought is given to it.  It’s not a sophisticated piece by Scanlan and while it touches on an interesting question he doesn’t even try to answer it.

Nichols takes a look at the ESPN team rankings that got the organisation and media in such a buzz and thinks that what ESPN was assessing is poorly understood:

The rankings aren’t necessarily a blanket assessment that examines the best or most successful franchises in sports; instead they combine fan perspectives with an objective measure of how well teams turn dollars into wins. The problem is that in essence, these ESPN rankings reward cost-efficient franchises that provide their fan base with relatively affordable entertainment and a winning product. In fact, ESPN indicated that of the fans they polled, “affordability was about 40 percent more important than stadium experience, for example, our formula reflects that.”

I understand Nichols’ point here, but I don’t like how he’s framed it.  A better question (in general) is what makes a franchise successful, but that’s not the question ESPN was trying to answer and this is what Nichols is pointing out.  This doesn’t detract from the fact that the Sens have offered a positive experience (as defined by the criteria) for fans for the last couple of seasons.  At any rate, Nichols ploughs into details ESPN did not consider while compiling their list:

It’s all fine and good to brag about high attendance figures but without knowing what percentage of the seats are comp’d or how Ottawa’s gate revenue is relative to the rest of its peers, it’s difficult to take these rankings seriously. Moreover, affordability is a relative thing as well. In a city like Ottawa that doesn’t enjoy the corporate support that larger cities receive, a higher percentage of its fan base will inevitably be paying out their own pockets for season tickets. And in turn, that has an impact on keeping season ticket prices down.

These are all good point, albeit beyond the scope of what ESPN was trying to do (which is, by and large, simply to generate conversation).  To Nichols’ point, it’s like looking at raw attendance numbers in any sport: they means nothing without context (if a team is giving away tickets, then bums in the seats are only indirectly generating revenue through hoped-for concession sales etc).  Finally Nichols wonders about the organisation’s excitement in placing ninth on the list:

it strikes me as odd that in the wake of a report that says the Ottawa Senators have lost $94M over the past ten years and Eugene Melnyk’s pleas to City Council to allow for the property adjacent to the Canadian Tire Centre to be considered as a site for a prospective casino, the Sens would pimp an arbitrary ranking from a news source who neglected to include Bobby Ryan in a list of the top 100 forwards in the NHL. I mean, weren’t the Sens just trying to rally fans to their side of the casino debate by insinuating that adding an additional revenue stream for ownership would allow them to allocate these revenues into the team’s payroll to help them compete?

The pimping comes from a desire to inflate the reputations of the battered Melnyk more than anything–it’s a feeble exercise, but gives defenders of the Euge something to talk about.

-Speaking of ESPN, Pierre LeBrun picks the Sens to win the Atlantic Division (other ESPN experts see them from third to first); he likes their coaching, goaltending, and Jason Spezza‘s “motivation”; the negatives are their scoring.  The first two are points I see everywhere, the latter doesn’t seem particularly useful.

Bryan Murray talked on The Fan 590, but sadly said nothing new.

-Here is the second part of Hockey’s Future‘s look at the SM-Liiga.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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