Sens Defence Holding Its Own

SensChirp January 24, 2013 0

As Bryan Murray continues his search for blueline help, the current crop of blueliners have performed admirably through the team's first two games.

While the Sens GM readily admits he could use an additional defenceman to slide into the team's top two pairings, he has to like what he's seen from the six defenceman Paul MacLean has used to start the 2013 season.

On all three pairings there were question marks.

Erik Karlsson is Erik Karlsson.  He racked up three points in Winnipeg and was actually better on Monday night against the Panthers despite not picking up any points.  While the first pairing featured the defending Norris Trophy winner, there were questions about how newcomer Marc Methot would fit as a defense partner. Through two games, the reviews on Methot have been nothing but positive. His physical play has been good and his puck handling a pleasant surprise.

That pairing appears to be here to stay.

The second duo of Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar provides a ton of experience, but how they would adjust to the hit the ground running environment you get from a shortened season was a cause for concern. So far, so good I'd say. Clearly Gonchar has benefited from his time in the KHL and while there have been signs of rust from Phillips, he has given the team some quality minutes.

The third pairing was also a bit of an unknown heading into the season.

Patrick Wiercioch and Andre Benoit had looked good as a pair in Binghamton, but could they sustain that at the NHL level? Again, the initial reviews have been positive. Andre Benoit has been good on the attack and in his own end and has displayed an element of quickness I really didn't expect.

In Wiercioch, the Sens have a guy who can take a regular shift at even strength, and pitch in on the power play, as he did on Monday night, setting up Kyle Turris for the game's first goal.

Extremely small sample size, but Paul MacLean has to like what he's seen from his defenceman so far.  Here are the average time on ice numbers through the first couple games.

Karlsson- 26:14
Methot- 22:50
Phillips- 20:45
Benoit- 14:18
Wiercioch- 12:27

The strong start means there isn't that same urgency for Bryan Murray to make a move which helps them avoid a "panic" move. Now obviously the Jets and Panthers aren't exactly offensive powerhouses and there are bigger tests ahead but you have to like the play of the defence core so far.

  • The Ottawa Senators have scored eight goals through the first couple games and besides Zack Smith, Peter Regin, Erik Condra and Chris Phillips, every skater has registered a point. That kind of balanced scoring is going to be critical to this team's success.
  • The Sens held one last practice before leaving the icy cold weather behind as they visit sunny Florida for back to back games on Thursday and Friday night. No changes in the forward combinations other than Peter Regin shifting to centre, while Jim O'Brien moved to the wing. Same pairings on defence.
  • Some good news from the farm as Mika Zibanejad is healthy and scoring for the Binghamton Senators. Zibanejad has scored goals in three straight games.