FJM’ing a Don Brennan Blog Post + Monday Linkage

The following is a Don Brennan piece that appeared today over at Off the Posts. As always, my comments are in bold.

During Brian Elliott’s personal, eight-game losing streak, the Senators have scored 10 goals.

I like where Don is going with this: the use of statistics to support some argument. Carry on…

In Robin Lehner’s one outing, they scored six.

… And stop. Unless Lehner assisted on every one of his teammates’ goals, let’s not pretend that his mere presence within the blue paint is the basis for Ottawa’s output.

They played for the kid, for whatever reason. Maybe they’re protecting him. Maybe they know they have to be better offensively. He’s just 19. He needs support.

Or maybe the six goals could be explained by an inept Islanders team or some goaltending that makes Islander fans yearn for the days of Glenn Healy and Mark Fitzpatrick.

But does it really matter why? No, it doesn’t.

So why waste 4 sentences and 19 words to grasp at straws before arriving at the conclusion that it doesn’t matter?

All that should matter to the Senators at this point is that they get the victory. Nothing else. And for whatever reason, they are not winning with Brian Elliott.

Ottawa’s record with Brian Elliott? 12-16-5. Ottawa’s record with Pascal Leclaire in nets? 4-7-1. So what’s more indicative of the calibre of the team? Ottawa’s combined 16-23-6 record with their regular goaltenders or their 1-0-0 record with Robin Lehner in nets?

I know all you people out there say that wins don’t even matter now, that it’s too late, they have no chance. You’re probably right. But the fact is, they are not dead yet, and in sports, you keep playing until they tell you to go home.

Ottawa has a 99.9% chance of making the postseason. To get to that magical 92-94 point threshold that should culminate in a playoff appearance, they have to have a winning percentage of more than .722% (24-8-4) to get in. Wins do matter now. If

I don’t think they have a prayer either, but really, the Senators are 11 points out of a playoff spot with about 35 games left. Believe it or not, stranger things have happened in sports.

I know, I know, this does not look like a team that can string together wins. I can’t imagine they will. But it is possible. Improbable, but possible.

I don’t think there’s a Senators fan out there who is quoting Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance? YEAH!”

The thing I don’t understand is this: While the owner can start looking at next season, the future is now for Cory Clouston. He is playing for his NHL career. Once he gets fired, it’s hard to imagine he’ll get another chance coaching in the NHL. His record in Ottawa is not exactly sparkling.

For the record, Clouston’s career coaching record is 80-66-16. Who would ever want to employ a coach who puts the future interests of a team that he’s not contractually obligated to (beyond this season) ahead of his own. If I’m an owner, I wouldn’t want that guy in my organization…

So, if you’re Clouston, why would you not give yourself the best chance to win now?

Lehner didn’t look great in the 6-4 victory over the Islanders, except for the fact he was the only Ottawa goalie who has been able to smile after a game since Boxing Day.

Does anyone else get the impression that Don was one of those guys who hated the fact that Felix Hernandez won the 2010 American League Cy Young Award for best pitcher on the basis that Hernandez didn’t win enough games?

If I’m Clouston, I don’t care how it gets done, as long as somebody does it. And Elliott isn’t doing it.

And neither is Leclaire. But Lehner, who received 6 goals of support against the Isles and has a resume that features one win and a save percentage of .880, is capable doing it? Right…

Don seems like an interesting and reasonable guy, maybe he’d also like to bring back Martin Prusek in a supporting role because he went 16-7-3 during his career with the Senators?

I’m sure there are those of you who think it’s not Clouston’s call.

But when management thought of bringing up Lehner, Clouston was told it would only happen if he played the kid. He said he would. I’m sure if he told management he wanted Lehner back, it would happen.

Instead, he says he’s thinking about Lehner’s future and making sure he develops properly. What hogwash. For one thing, who the hell knows if Lehner will develop better in the minors or here. I realize what history has shown us with other goalies, but this guy is different.

Yeah, screw those historical statistics that suggest that it’s more prudent to afford a young goaltender the opportunity to develop at the minor league level. Why take Lehner out of a winning environment in Binghamton  and instead throw him into the unmitigated disaster that has been the 2010-11 Ottawa Senators season?

Because Lehner’s different? What or where is the evidence of this banal remark?

And in the position he is in, Clouston should not be as worried about Lehner’s future as he should be about his own. The kid is going to have one in the NHL. At this rate, Clouston won’t.

Oh snap! If only Clouston was as selfish as a Bruins fan who covers the Senators and is not-so-secretely irked because he’d prefer to see the Leafs finish below Ottawa.

As for the Senators, well, there will be lots of time to bury them once they’re dead. Right now, they are not. It just looks that way.

Monday Linkage:

In Elliotte Friedman’s most recent 30 Thoughts blog post, he addressed the Senators coaching and management situation:

At least three times this season, no one would’ve been surprised to wake up and hear the Senators changed coaches. How about Dec. 3, the morning after San Jose beat them 4-0? Or, Jan. 2? (That was 5-1 Toronto.) Then, there was last Wednesday, following a 6-0 loss in Boston. It looks like Eugene Melnyk’s decided to keep Cory Clouston for the rest of the season, but Melnyk is so unpredictable, it’s impossible to know for sure.

Then, there’s the GM succession plan. At one point, it was believed Bryan Murray would be moved into a consultant’s role, with nephew Tim, his assistant, getting the big promotion. God only knows what’s going to happen now.

Also of note is that Frieman lists Ottawa as a potential suitor for an unrestricted collegiate player named Stephane Da Costa. If you’ll remember following that embarrassing 5-1 loss to Toronto, Bryan Murray told the local media that he did not get a chance to watch the game because he was away scouting some collegiate player. Da Costa was probably that player.

Via every beat writer’s Twitter account, Corey Locke was demoted back to Binghamton today. To my knowledge, no one has been called up to replace him so it’s reasonable to assume that Alexei Kovalev is likely to return against the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow night.

Icethetics (via SensChirp) has mentioned that the Senators will have a new third jersey next season. Considering that the black jersey has been offered as a throw-in when buying tickets or other varities of the Sens jersey, the move should hardly be considered surprising. Unfortunately, I’d love to see the Senators scrap all of their current models and go back to some classic designs.

Over at the Ottawa Citizen’s online sports section, you can download a PDF file that details every move that Bryan Murray has made since coming over to the organization.

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