FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
-It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Ottawa Senators have no clue what they are doing in their own end of the rink. And the most concerning thing is that it seems to be getting worse. Despite spending a couple days talking about the importance of cleaning things up in their own end of the rink and despite working on it in practice, the Senators actually looked worse against the Stars. Maybe as bad as they’ve looked all year. Something has to give here fairly soon because this is no way to live.
-The six or seven defenceman dressed on any given night probably deserve the bulk of the blame. You often hear coaches talk about the importance of maintaining a good gap. This is probably the biggest issue right now. The opposition is entering Ottawa’s zone with little to no resistance and then they are being given more than ample room to either make a pass or throw a puck on net. But it’s not just the defence that’s struggling. The wingers are leaving the points wide open and the centers are regularly losing their check in front of the net. Actually, it’s a little bit of everything right now. Combine that with below average goaltending and it becomes pretty tough to win a hockey game.
-Bobby Ryan has always been a lightning rod for criticism. From the moment he signed that big extension, he has always been one of the most polarizing players on the roster. And that certainly hasn’t changed in the early part of this season. Regardless of what you think of Ryan as a player , the fact is, he remains one of the most talented guys on the roster, at least in terms of his ability to make skilled plays and create offence. His legs may not be there like when he was younger and his shot is almost nonexistent, but man can he pass the puck. Not sure anyone else on the roster can make the passes he did on the Dzingel and Smith goals last night.
-It has only been a quarter of a season but it’s probably safe to say that Brady Tkachuk is the most effective net-front player the Senators have ever had. And honestly, nobody else comes close. What is so impressive about Tkachuk is he goes there with a purpose. It’s not just about screening the goalie for him. He tracks the play so well and is able to read where he should be at any given moment. He’s also basically impossible to move once he gains position. It’s crazy to think he’s just a teenager and is still going to get significantly stronger.
-And with that I must bid you all farewell. For a couple days anyway. Off to Edmonton on a business trip. Grey Cup business, that is. In fact, I’m writing this blog post from about 20,000 feet. Will be back on Monday with a slightly delayed and extremely hung over Game Day post. When the inevitable Sens related scandal or trade or franchise sale occurs sometime this afternoon or tomorrow, know that I probably would have tried to put a positive spin on it. Or blamed Melnyk. GOOOOO REDBLACKS!