Senators News: November 20th

-Ottawa lost again last night (5-2 to Philadelphia, here’s the boxscore).  The Sens rallied from an early 2-0 deficit only to give up two quick goals after their own third was called off upon video review (the final goal was into an empty net).  As seems the norm this season, about half of the lineup showed up for the game, which wasn’t quite enough to beat the Flyers.

-The Sens face Minnesota (13-5-4) tonight; the Wild are coming off a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of Montreal.

-I would love to see someone explore what Paul MacLean thinks he’s achieving with the lamentable Greening-Smith-Neil line as well as why he plays Eric Gryba as much as he does.  I’d like to think it’s more sophisticated than the obvious (“big & physical”)–MacLean and his coaching staff are pretty savvy people–is it simply a matter of there’s no better option or does he think he’s achieving something that’s alluding me?

Darren M tries to put his finger on the team’s struggles:

So where did the Senators go wrong? After all, they gained a bunch of healthy bodies, and the losses of Alfredsson and Silfverberg were offset by Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, who have been two of Ottawa’s best players so far. The loss of Peter Regin was offset by, well, the fact that it was just Peter Regin. Realistically, the biggest holes left unfilled were those of Sergei Gonchar and Andre Benoit, but Benoit was rarely used and the return of Erik Karlsson, even on one leg, should have made up for the loss. Yet something’s different than last year: this year’s team is terrible.

Darren’s conclusion is that:

The very simple problem facing the Senators is that they are shooting less than other teams and being shot on more than other teams. This is the difference between good clubs and bad ones, hence last year’s club was a good team and this year’s is a bad one.

That’s definitely a key factor, but I’d bring up three more (one of which Darren touches on): regression of the goaltending (not a significant one, but a slight drop from the insane performance from last season), not being taken seriously for part of last season (a rebuilding team), along with a reminder that the Sens did not have to play Western teams–something they (and the rest of the East) have struggled with.

Varada reminds us that the Sens have given up the first goal in 70% of their games–needless to say, the percentage of NHL teams who win after scoring first is absurdly high.  He also points out that the players the Sens might like to move aren’t particularly tempting to anyone.

-I think the clock on Derek Grant may be nearing midnight; the main asset he brought to the team was his faceoff acumen, but he’s struggled badly three of the last four games and it may be enough for him to be returned to Binghamton in exchange for someone else (perhaps the return of Jean-Gabriel Pageau).

-Trade rumours continue to swirl as we’ve migrated from Nikitia Nikitin, to Anton Stralman, to Martin Havlat (he of the no-move clause and giant salary), and now Michael Del Zotto.  Putting aside the relative merits of all these players, who are the Sens going to give up for them?  The assets to be sent remain unstated (and as Bob McKenzie pointed out on TSN 1200 last night, given Ottawa’s internal budget it would have to be a dollar-for-dollar trade–very much like the 05-06 season when the cap was introduced).  Is anyone a little gun-shy at acquiring depth defenseman from the Rangers (Matt Gilroy anyone?).  Regardless, I don’t think there’s any trade that serves the organisation long-term that’s worth making–it’s better to suffer through the growth of a young blueline.

-Here’s my look at the Sens at the twenty-game mark.

Peter Morrow writes about the Sens prospects and despite some errors (Andre Petersson is 23, not 24, David Dziurzynski plays the wing, not center, etc), but he does a decent job describing them all.

-I wonder what’s in the water for Nashville and Anaheim’s European goalie scouts?  The Predators Marek Mazanec (a sixth-round pick in 2012 who didn’t make my (or really anyone’s) 2012 draft predictions, Central Scouting had him tenth among European goaltenders the previous year), has been phenomenal in his rookie season, and there’s little need to dwell on Anaheim’s fantastic crop of goaltenders (including some of the best undrafted free agent signings in the NHL).  Goaltending is the hardest position to predict, but clearly these are two organisations who seem to have figured it out.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)