Without Alfie, Ottawa’s Second Line is Only a Second Line in Name

 

In this morning’s Ottawa Sun, there were two paragraphs written by Bruce Garrioch that I really took notice of. Take a look:

If the Senators are going to halt their three-game losing skid Wednesday night against the Rangers, they need more production from everybody — especially Butler, who has yet to score a goal in the six games he’s played this season.

Troubled by a groin injury that slowed him down in training camp, Butler can’t complain he’s not getting a chance. He’s been on a line with Nick Foligno and Stephane Da Costa.

From this second paragraph, there are two conflicting beliefs at play:

  1. Bobby Butler is being given a chance since he’s receiving second line ice-time alongside Stephane Da Costa and Nick Foligno.
  2. Bobby Butler doesn’t have the best opportunity to succeed because he’s playing alongside Stephane Da Costa and Nick Foligno. 

In 36 games last season, Butler posted 10 goals and 21 points while averaging 15 minutes and 25 seconds of ice-time per game. Through six games this season, Butler only has one assist and has seen his ice-time drop to 11 minutes and 40 seconds per game. Similarly, his average power play ice-time per game has been cut in half – down from 2 minutes and 12 seconds to 1 minute and 17 seconds.

But it’s not just Butler’s ice-time that’s deteriorating, it’s the quality of linemates that he’s playing with as well.

During the 2010-11 season, Butler played 36.8-percent of his even-strength minutes and 87.4-percent of his power play minutes playing alongside Jason Spezza. This season, those numbers are down to 20.8-percent and 32.8-percent respectively. Based off of these numbers, one could reasonably assume that his drop in production would be attributable to this disparity in PP TOI playing alongside Spezza. However, Butler did almost all of his damage at even strength last season – registering only 5 of his 21 points on the power play.

So to what can we blame Butler’s lack of production?

Well, although it’s no fault of their own, some blame could be placed on the quality of his linemates. Simply put, Nick Foligno looks like a careeer 30-point contributor and Stephane Da Costa’s NHL career is in its infancy. Da Costa could eventually become a decent second line pivot, but he’s another of Ottawa’s young forwards who has bounced between fourth and second line minutes and is struggling to find some consistency.

CHL Weekly Awards…

Seriously, it seems like not a week goes by without one of Ottawa’s recent draft picks being recognized with a player of the week award. This time it was Peterborough forward Matt Puempel who was named as the OHL player of the week after he totalled 4 goals and 2 assists in 3 games.

Power Play Sputtering

Allen Panzeri correctly notes that if Ottawa is going to get back into the winning column soon, it needs better results from a power play that once hovered at 30-percent success rate.

Jason Spezza Finallly Being Recognized for his Faceoff Prowess Outside the City of Ottawa

At Yahoo! Sports, Harrison Mooney picks up on Bruce Garrioch’s story and looks at how Spezza’s being used in high leverage faceoff situations. It’s not really a new phenomenon though. Looking at Ottawa’s zone starts, Clouston was using Spezza in a similar fashion last season. (Spezza led Senators’ regulars with the lowest percentage of o-zone starts with 47.5%)

It’s nice to see him finally being recognized though…

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