(UPDATE 6:14 PM)- In case you missed the news earlier this afternoon, the Ottawa Senators have demoted forward Jean Gabriel Pageau to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. Pageau was given a shot to prove himself out of training camp and early in the season but just couldn’t match his incredible production from the end of last season. Pageau now has a chance to go to Binghamton, play big minutes in all situations, and work his way back into the Ottawa line up.
Twelve games into the NHL season and fans are already a little bit restless about the local hockey team.
The Senators are coming off three straight losses, all against teams playing their back up goalies and in the second game of a back to back. Granted those games were against three of the best teams in the NHL but panic seems to be setting in here in the Nation’s Capital.
While some like to suggest that there are “major” issues with this team, I’m not sure that’s the case. They still have a talented group of top six forwards and a great top defensive pair and two very capable starting goalies. It’s after that there seems to be some question marks. And again I’d argue that the personnel are there, just some guys have yet to reach the level the team expected of them heading into the season.
But there is one thing that’s a little troubling early in this season…
Now I really hesitate to question the decisions Paul MacLean makes game to game. He’s an NHL Coach and I’m an anonymous hockey blogger. Not only is he an NHL Head Coach, but the last time judgement was passed, it was ruled he was in fact the BEST coach in the top league in the world.
But the key minutes being given to the Chris’s (Neil and Phillips) is a little perplexing. You won’t find me in the “Chris Neil is useless crowd” but I really think at this point in his career, he’s a quality fourth-line energy guy that provides a spark on the ice and in the locker room. He has an A on his jersey and rightfully so.
That said, he should not be on the ice late in the game when the team needs a goal. It just doesn’t make sense. That’s not his game. Yes he goes to the net, yes he creates traffic out front, but I really believe any player (including more skilled guys than Neil) are capable of going to the net with the game on the line.
Now I’m sure there’s some sort of message being sent here and this is about MacLean looking down the bench and saying, “Well if you skilled guys won’t go to the net, I know who will” but with the losses starting to pile up, this really isn’t the time for message sending.
Same thing goes for Chris Phillips. With the team down by a goal in Chicago, MacLean sent out Erik Karlsson and Phillips. Just doesn’t add up for me. Again, Chris Phillips is a crucial part of this team and an important leader but late in the game, offensive situations he is not the first name that comes to my mind.
Again, I’m sure MacLean has a reason for putting the guys on the ice that he does, but from where the comfort of my Mom’s basement, some of the decisions just aren’t adding up.
I’m a big fan of both Phillips and Neil. Both guys can still be effective NHL players. But the way MacLean is using them on the power play and late in games doesn’t make a lick of sense. There. I feel better now.
Much like many of the issues in the early going this season, it’s pretty easy to brush it off with a quick “it’s early.” And that is entirely true. The Senators have worked their way through the toughest part of the schedule and finished with a 4-6-2 record. Not great but certainly not reason to panic just yet.
A quick glance at the schedule to start November shows a bunch of seemingly winnable home games. The Senators will play seven of their next eight games on home ice, beginning with a Friday night game against the New York Islanders and then a match up with the Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon.
The Sens are on the ice for practice at 11:00 AM this morning.
The Daily Chirp- Let’s go back to the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. It’s a topic that has been talked about a little bit recently with Nazem Kadri playing well and Jared Cowen off to a slow start. There has always been a bit of a misconception that Bryan Murray somehow tricked Leafs GM Brian Burke during their short interaction on the Draft floor. That really doesn’t add up based on what I’ve heard. In fact, leading up to the draft that year, I was told the Sens were quite high on Kadri. They likely would have taken him if he was still there at 9.