Whenever the question, “Which line is Ottawa’s first line?” was posed to the Team 1200’s Steve Lloyd, he would always answer with a “Whichever line Alfredsson is on,”answer.
Sadly, it looks like those days for the Senators organization are over. I’m not saying that to discredit Alfie. The man is a legend. An icon. The NHL’s most tenured captain. A five time NHL All-Star. The face of the franchise. An Olympic gold medalist. A Swedish success story. A Calder Trophy winner. He is the Senators all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points. But most importantly, he’s the man who drove that sniveling piece of refuse, known as Darcy Tucker, head first into the boards.
At 37 years of age, Alfredsson’s still a productive player but the past few games have marked the end of an era. Ottawa’s first line is no longer the one that features Alfie.
Thanks to the recent success of the Regin – Spezza – Kovalev trio and the offensive ineptitude of Mike Fisher and Milan Michalek, Alfie is showing that he can’t do it alone. Granted, both Fisher and Michalek are players who are recuperating from some lingering injuries, however, if you ever needed a bigger condemnation of their ability to compliment Alfie, look no further than Cory Clouston’s decision to flip Alfie with Ryan Shannon and slot the captain alongside Jesse Winchester and the goalless Nick Foligno.
I can’t help but feel badly for the guy. With the way that Regin – Spezza – Kovalev line has been clicking, there’s simply no one left to compliment Alfie offensively on the roster.
A Thought on Nick Foligno’s Goalless Drought
So now that Foligno has surpassed the Jonathan Cheechoo benchmark for goalless games to start the season, he now stands 52 games away from tying Bill Muckalt’s single-season total of 70 games played without a goal. His lack of production is a growing concern for the pitchfork waving fans that need someone to blame for Ottawa’s current secondary scoring problems. So I’ll be frank here – crapping on Nick Foligno is a lazy cop out.
You can talk about pedigree. He’s a first round pick!
You can talk about the number of games in which he doesn’t have a goal. 18 games!!! What gives?
You can talk about his cock-teasing production in the preseason without acknowledging the quality of opposition or that his tallies were the result of three great individual efforts.
How about instead of talking about how Nick should be a second line player, isn’t it about time that we called a spade, a spade and acknowledge him for what he really is – a third line player?
Unfortunately for Nick, the team has an abundance of depth on the left side that slots ahead of him – Regin, Michalek and Ruutu – and as a result, he’s miscast with limited minutes on the 4th line.
There’s no question that he has the ability to be a regular 15-goal scorer but playing alongside Jesse Winchester and Ryan Shannon isn’t going to help matters. Based on his style and skillset, he’s better suited to play alongside Chris Kelly and Chris Neil on the third line, a spot that he inherited last night when Ruutu was in the penalty box serving his fighting major.
With Ruutu’s impending UFA status, Foligno looks to be the benefactor in the event that he leaves. Until then, take a deep breath and lower those expectations and pitchforks. Or maybe be more critical of the two players who occupy the “second line” and $8.5-million of the team’s cap.