Senators News: November 1st

-It’s a funny thing about the blogosphere, but the best of times in terms of articles, debate, and provocative thought is when things are bad.  I don’t see Ottawa’s rough start as a sign of Armageddon (see below), but it creates a bonanza of engaging reading material.

-Ottawa plays the Islanders (4-5-3) tonight and Robin Lehner will get the start.  Joe Corvo will sit in favour of Eric Gryba; more interesting to me is that Milan Michalek will start on the third line which while well-deserved is something of a surprise.  Travis Yost writes at length about the lineup and his thoughts are (as always) interesting.

-The Sens blew a 4-2 lead and lost 6-5 to Chicago (boxscore and Amelia L‘s excellent game summary) and now even sensible fans are on the panic ledge getting ready to leap.  Nichols says all the team’s current problems were in the tea leaves before the season started (not that anyone apparently saw them, other than a regression from Craig Anderson):

For as much success as the team had without the likes of Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Jared Cowen, and Erik Karlsson in the lineup, when the team not only puts these players into the lineup but requires them to log significant minutes against tough competition, expectations that these players would play at a level in which they were pre-injury are unfair.

This is absolutely correct.  Nichols also makes the point that team defense doesn’t simply involve the defensecorps (also spot on), and that handing the reigns to Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch and expecting them to thrive was a little naïve.  Travis meantime, examines the problems, but other than offering a possible improvement to the forward arrangement has no suggested answer for the blueline.

So what do I think?  People need to take a deep breath and relax.  The hype coming into the season was way too high and time needs to be given for young players to mature into their roles while players coming off long-term injury will take awhile to find their rhythm.  Ottawa has had an awful schedule, but they are through the murderers row from the Western Conference and can settle in to more standard play in November.

Amelia L wonders if the criticisms of Chris Neil are justified and provides the proof that he does without answering the question.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau was sent down to Binghamton at last and Roger the Shrubber thinks there should be the same debate that accompanied Mika Zibanejad‘s demotion.  Roger hits upon the reason why this is not the case in his own question:

Maybe the difference is that Pageau was looking pretty overwhelmed, whereas Zibanejad never did

Exactly, thus the lack of debate.

Nichols ponders the struggles of Colin Greening and I’m less interested in his specific comments than the topic itself.  Did the Sens over pay for Greening?  As a team with a megaton of cap space the answer is simply “no”, even if they went over his current market value it’s irrelevant given the way they manage their money.  His pay raise doesn’t mean his play was expected to improve, simply that the organisation likes what he is now–a big north-south skater who will go to the net, is responsible defensively, and can play on any line that isn’t made up of Zack Smith and Chris Neil.  He’ll put up his usual numbers and remain useful but largely invisible.

-Binghamton faces Adirondack (3-4-2) tonight.  I haven’t seen the lineups, but there was speculation that Andrew Hammond would get the start.

-Elmira faces Greenville (3-2-0).  Jakub Culek and Troy Rutkowski will play.

Kirk Luedeke, who scouts for Red Line Report, is circulating a potential trade rumour with Florida.  Excluding deadline deals, Bryan Murray is a pretty astute trader, so if there’s any substance to the rumour it will be interesting to see what move gets made.

Future Considerations has their latest 2014 draft rankings posted and here’s the top-30:

1). D Aaron Ekblad, Barrie (OHL), 6-4, 215
2). C Sam Reinhart, Kootenay (WHL), 6-1, 185
3). LW Sam Bennett, Kingston (OHL), 6-0, 180
4). C William Nylander, Rogle (Allsvenskan), 5-11, 170
5). C Leon Draisaitl, Prince Albert (WHL), 6-2, 210
6). C Michael Dal Colle, Oshawa (OHL), 6-2, 180
7). C Jake Virtanen, Calgary (WHL), 6-1, 210
8). LW Nick Ritchie, Peterborough (OHL), 6-2, 230
9). D Roland McKeown, Kingston (OHL), 6-1, 200
10). D Haydn Fleury, Red Deer (WHL), 6-3, 200
11). LW Brendan Perlini, Niagara (OHL), 6-2, 205
12). LW Ivan Barbashev, Moncton (QMJHL), 6-1, 185
13). C Jared McCann, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), 6-0, 180
14). RW Conner Bleackley, Red Deer (WHL), 6-1, 195
15). RW Anton Karlsson, Frolunda J20 (SuperElit), 6-1, 190
16). RW David Pastrnak, Sodertalje (Allsvenskan), 6-0, 170
17). RW Kasperi Kapanen, KalPa (SM-Liiga), 5-11, 170
18). C Adrian Kempe, Modo J20 (SuperElit), 6-2, 190
19). LW Spencer Watson, Kingston (OHL), 5-10, 165
20). LW Sonny Milano, USNTDP U18 (USHL), 5-11, 185
21). D Brycen Martin, Swift Current (WHL), 6-2, 185
22). D Julius Honka, Swift Current (WHL), 5-10, 170
23). C Dylan Larkin, USNTDP U18 (USHL), 6-1, 190
24). G Thatcher Demko, Boston College (NCAA), 6-4, 180
25). D Anthony DeAngelo, Sarnia (OHL), 5-11, 175
26). C Jakub Vrana, Linkoping J20 (SuperElit), 5-11, 185
27). LW Nikolaj Ehlers, Halifax (QMJHL), 5-11, 165
28). C Nick Schmaltz, Green Bay (USHL), 5-11, 170
29). D Jack Dougherty, USNTDP U18 (USHL), 6-1, 185
30). RW Nikolay Goldobin, Sarnia (OHL), 6-0, 175

Allan Muir looks back at the month that was in the NHL and the element that stood out to me was discipline:

You were, in fact, treated to an uglier brand of hockey in October than in previous opening months.

Muir points out there were more suspensions this month than any comparable start to the season and that it’s bad enough that even the NHL has noticed:

one positive to come out of this string of concussions and fractured jaws is that the league’s general managers will consider adding a new layer of discipline at their meetings later this month. That could include fining organizations for the reckless actions of their players.

I don’t see it happening (or if it does, imagine that it will be enforced), but at least it’s a plodding step in the right direction.

-A little trip down memory lane: the lamentable Mark Spector thought Edmonton’s acquisition of Steve MacIntyre would help this season.  Bravo Mark!

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)