Senators News & Notes

Superspreader events': Experts worry hockey arenas a toxic formula for  COVID-19

I watched the two rookie games between Ottawa and Montreal, as well as the inter-squad scrimmage today. Neither event is particularly meaningful, so I won’t offer a full breakdown, although the former is more competitive (as Angus Crookshank can attest–he’ll miss more than half the season after getting hurt). Performances in these things rarely mean anything, but I was happy with what I saw from Roby Jarventie offensively (particularly in the second game against Montreal). Otherwise nothing struck me as surprising.

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Dom Luszczyszyn’s season preview for Ottawa dropped for The Athletic and I think it is spot-on (his predictions last season performed very well, particularly with the Sens; the basic ideas echoed, in brief, by Travis Yost). Dom thinks it’s most likely that the Sens will be in the bottom-10 of the league (but not bottom-5), held back by poor goaltending, a shallow defencecorps, and an intriguing but thin forward mix. His player analysis broadly fits my own, although I’d quibble with Batherson‘s (see below). I want to include a couple of comments about specific players since they run contrary to the chatter one gets from the local media:
Zaitsev – “Zaitsev’s biggest issue is that he can’t move the puck. At all. Not a single defender had a worse zone exit rate than Zaitsev’s 11 percent meaning there were a lot of pucks off the glass when he was on the ice. In the offensive zone, he tends to just chuck pucks at the net rather than make a play and he is genuinely where offence goes to die.
Josh Brown – “I guess someone has to babysit the incapable [Josh Brown]
Zaitsev and Del Zotto as a shutdown pair – “one of the worst ideas for a shutdown pair in recent memory
Tkachuk – “He’s a frustrating power forward who hasn’t been able to bury nearly as many chances as he’s expected to. There’s a dispute between public and private data over how valuable his chances actually are, but at the end of the day you still have a player who led all players in shots-per-60 last season who finished 100th in goals-per-60. That’s not good enough.
Batherson – “He was a mess in 2019-20 at both ends of the ice and even in last year’s improvement only jumped up to 1.43 points-per-60 at five-on-five. That’s third line calibre and it doesn’t feel like he can be a future top line player.
White – “it’ll be hard to succeed with Nick Paul and Austin Watson on either side of him

My quibble with Batherson is the sample size, but Dom is following where the analytics are pointing. The comments about the defense and Watson aren’t new outside the Ottawa bubble, but inside the community Paul has been highly praised and here we see dismissal–it’s worth noting.

The Sens Panel: Sens ownership speculation - YouTube

Besides the two year break I took from this blog, I hadn’t paid much attention to the NHL going back much further (for many reasons, as I’ve gone over before). To that end I’d largely stopped listening to TSN 1200 and reading the local coverage (which I found broadly vapid, predictable, and awash with platitudes and repetition). Coming back to it, other than Shawn Simpson (and Ian Mendes, but The Athletic isn’t local), the radio and print coverage is unchanged. These are people terrified of analytics, serving up the same sets of tired opinions. The fan sites aren’t much better (that includes Youtube channels), and even the legendary Nichols has largely retired out of analysis (Travis Yost was always too good to be limited to Sens coverage–check out his archive here). It’s a funny thing to see that local hockey coverage would have fit in the vapid, platitude-filled days I remember from the 1980s. Some of that entropy undoubtedly comes from the org itself–the fount of access–since neither management nor ownership understand modern analysis of the game, but it’s more than a little puzzling that none of the fan sites has tried to separate themselves in their coverage (excluding The Silver Seven‘s prospect material from Ary and Colin). In a way I get it, as those graduating from fan sites to traditional media have been are among the most bland content producers imaginable.

Speaking of the local scene though–there’s a beef between Shawn Simpson and one of the local hacks? Is it really Garrioch? I’m so out of the loop, but bless Simpson for wanting to move beyond it.

Finally, a little pat on the back to myself for having included a broken link to my Twitter on this blog since I returned–you’d think I would have checked it, but no, I didn’t.

This article is written by Peter Levi

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