Play the Kids

Like a cougar who had marinated in perfume before heading to the Crazy Horse bar in the Kanata Centrum, the recent decisions to scratch Erik Karlsson and Peter Regin reek of desperation. As a collective, Ottawa has scored goals at a slightly better than Muckaltian rate. Prior to scoring 3 goals against the Rangers, the Senators had scored 13 goals in their previous 10 games and the blame had to fall somewhere. And in typical Ottawa fashion, the Senators young players have been the recipients of criticism with the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch leading the charge with his clamouring for change. Here’s a look at two of his most recent pieces of work from Off the Posts:

The list of underachievers is long.

The worst offenders are Peter Regin and Nick Foligno. Both are being given the ice time to have success and neither is producing. They have one lousy goal each. Regin is playing on the first line. ~ via Off the Posts, December 3rd

And…

The time has come for change. The time has come for a major change. Start listening to offers for the young players. Make a move. Do something. ~ via Off the Posts, November 30th

It’s worth mentioning that over the past year, my writing has shifted away from shitting on much of which the local media has written or said. Is it that my writing has matured a bit? Is it a general lack of care? Is it because I’ve generally found that the media (sans Brennan) rarely writes anything that is as stupid as it used to be? Or maybe is it due to the fact that since we’ve started recording podcasts, every member of the media that we have approached to come on the program have been more than accomodating and as a result, we’ve turned into soft manginas who no longer have any pushback?

Wait, pushback? (Note:How’s that for some segueway?)

One week ago, following a loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Senators coach Cory Clouston told reporters after a rotten 4-1 loss to the last place Oilers that he felt Ottawa players took “them lightly” and “didn’t respect our opponent. We have too many fragile players right now. What I mean by that is as soon as things go wrong … we don’t have any pushback.”

In an effort to shake things up, the Senators have yet to heed the advice of Garrioch and move some young pieces to acquire some piece that can help this team now. Instead, Clouston has benched two of his most promising young players — Karlsson and Regin — in recent games and with the latter coming in yesterday’s 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers.

So let me start by vehemently disagreeing with Bruce’s assessment that the Senators need to start selling young assets to salvage a season that is already starting to look forlorn. As Elliotte Friedman noted on CBC’s website, Bryan Murray have been trying for weeks to do something. Unless some magical move appears out of nowhere, there’s no help coming that way. Look at the trades being made: someone else’s salary cap problem, someone else’s extra player. There doesn’t appears to be a true difference-maker available.

Admittedly, I like to engage in some prospect porn. Although I’m not akin to the odd Hfboards poster who invests a ton of faith believing that the likes of Michael Sdao and Roman Wick can develop into impact players for this organization, I do believe that health-permitting, Karlsson and Regin should be playing in every game.

As some have noted, maybe they’re not as bad as they have been playing of late. So I ask: how much better can this team actually be? Are they good enough to ascend the standings and finish in the top four or five slots in the Eastern Conference? Probably not. Are they good enough to avoid a first round ouster in the playoffs? Not likely.

At the heart of the matter is the fact that as the third oldest team in the NHL, Ottawa simply isn’t very good. Yet, instead of analyzing and discussing a veteran core that has become infallible, I have to discuss how ironic it is for Clouston to talk about lacking pushback when he neglects to scratch a more deserving veteran player to send a message to the team. (Note: I am on-board with the decision to call up and use Bobby Butler but not at the expense of Regin.)

It all lends itself to the notion that Clouston and GM Bryan Murray are feeling the heat and are being pressured to win now. Remember The Euge’s recommendation that we should put on our seatbelts because we’re going all of the way this year? Well, after the way the last two weeks have unfolded and with the possibility existing that management could adhere to Garrioch’s suggestion, we could be headed into a horrific trainwreck of a finish.

Buckle up…

Friedman’s 30 Thoughts:

There are a bunch of Senators related news items in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts article. Here are the snippets:

  • Ottawa and Toronto were the two teams that Marc Savard did waive his NTC for.
  • Clubs are interested in trading for Brian Lee but only if Bryan Murray takes a contract back.
  • Bobby Butler wasn’t called up to Ottawa immediately because the Sens needed to create cap space and Murray wanted to avoid the “Saviour” label on a guy who’s played all of three NHL games.
  • Daniel Alfredsson is playing with some kind of undisclosed injury
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