FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
-It was a pretty familiar script for the Ottawa Senators last night. Shoddy defence, weak goaltending and an offence hell-bent on keeping the team in a hockey game where there were mostly outplayed.? The Minnesota Wild basically dominated the first 40 minutes of this game and looked like they would cruise to victory. But then much like a couple nights ago against the Panthers, the young Senators pushed back in a big way. Down 4-1 heading into the final frame, the Sens fought all the way back. Goals by Thomas Chabot, Christian Jaros and Colin White tied the game at 4-4, although only for a little more than a minute.? The Senators remain fun/infuriating to watch.
-A rebuilding team is going to go through some growing pains.? And as you’d expect, most of that pain is being felt in their own end of the rink. The encouraging thing is a lot of these mistakes feel like easy fixes. The frustrating thing is a lot of these mistakes feel like easy fixes.? Defending in the National Hockey League is tough but at every level of hockey, there is a basic expectation that if a member of the opposition is in front of your net, in the slot areas let’s say, that you cover that guy.? For some reason, the Senators are finding this very difficult right now.? This falls on the defenceman partly but it’s also on the forwards to come back and help out.? Perhaps this is part of the trade off for a more aggressive offence but I’m not convinced. It’s just a general lack of awareness in their own end of the rink and it’s an issue for just about everyone on the roster. Which means it’s probably, at least in part, a structural/coaching issue.? Interested to see how they adjust.
-It would appear that after two or three encouraging games, the Cody Ceci Redemption Tour has gone off the rails.? It was a good run.? Also it is with great disappointment that I must declare that Cody Ceci has officially entered the Jared Cowen zone. Let me explain- It’s not that I think he is anywhere near the same level as Cowen was towards the end of his time in the NHL but more so that I find myself watching his game in the same way. I have this tendency to zero in on Ceci when he’s on the ice and notice everything he’s doing. The good and the bad.? And if you watch any player looking for mistakes, you will always find them.? The bigger concern is when it becomes harder and harder to find the good plays.? These are desperate times when it comes to Cody Ceci though. I firmly believe that he has next to zero trade value and it’s more about putting him in a situation where he has the best chance of success. Right now that’s either on the third pair or perhaps an occasional visit to the press box.? Consistently rolling him out in the same role isn’t fair to him and it isn’t fair to the team.
-While Matt Duchene himself may be downplaying the current state of negotiations, it’s clear that the talks on a new contract are entering a critical point.? Pierre Dorion has met with Duchene’s agent on a couple of occasions already this season and that’s in addition to a meeting they had early in the preseason.? Basically the Senators are in a situation where they need to know where they stand with Duchene and it’s clear that they are making ever effort to get something done.? One thing I did hear over the weekend is that Duchene’s decision is very much linked to the future of Mark Stone. As in Duchene would like some indication that they also intend to lock up Mark Stone to a deal before he signs one of his own.? We’ll see where this goes in the next couple weeks.? You know when Bob McKenzie starts tweeting about it, something is up.
-Safe to say this is a big week on the LeBreton front.? News has been trickling out this week but it’s expected that we’ll have a more complete picture of where things stand following today’s public meeting of the National Capital Commission Board of Directors.? If it feels like things have been way too quiet on the LeBreton project for oh I don’t know, about 18 months, that’s because it has been.? There has been little to no transparency in a project that tried to define itself on that quality in the early days.? While everyone understands that this is complex endeavor with multiple moving parts, there’s really no excuse for the complete silence we’ve been getting to this point.? A project this important and this significant requires regular updates on progress. Hopefully we hear some of that today.