With a collection of forwards who have provided little secondary scoring over the past twenty games, the Ottawa Senators have turned to Rob Klinkhammer for some help.
And why not?
Through 35 games played in Bingo, the 6’3″ 209 lb left winger been a point-per-game player – scoring 12 goals and 23 assists. Besides bringing an exceptional hockey name to the lineup, there is hope that his blend of size and skill will add some dynamic that has been lacking on Ottawa’s second line alongside Kyle Turris and Daniel Alfredsson. With all apologies to Colin Greening, Klinkhammer’s inclusion amongst Ottawa’s top six forwards mercifully puts an end to Greening playing with the team’s more skilled players.
As outlined in a previous entry, for whatever reason, from Spezza’s line to Alfie’s line, whatever line that Greening has found himself has gone cold.
Out of complete fairness to Greening however, he’s not the only Senators forward whose performance has hit a proverbial wall. Nick Foligno has one goal in his last 20 games and Turris has eight points during that same period of time. Nevertheless, like Greening, many of the other key components to Binghamton’s Calder Cup winning championship team have struggled of late as well.
From Dobber Hockey:
It’s enough to wonder whether some of these players are starting to suffer the effects of playing in so many games since the start of the 2010/11 season. The following table includes all AHL/NHL regular season games, U-20 World Junior Hockey Championship games and AHL playoff games:
As the above table illustrates, no collection of Senators have played this much hockey since John Paddock filled out every line of his lineup cards as: Heatley – Spezza – Alfredsson.
The reason why I included Jared Cowen because it is not just the forward group that has struggled. Although his play has noticeably improved since the month of January, he is still trying to get back to that optimal level that he displayed in December.
In an effort to shake things up, head coach Paul MacLean has made Daugavins and Smith healthy scratches for tonight’s game.
Per Bruce Garrioch in today’s Ottawa Sun:
Coach Paul MacLean hasn’t been pleased with either Smith or Daugavins.
“We can only play 20. We have to play well to play,” said MacLean. “At this point of the season, other people are playing better and that’s why they’re not playing.”
So, is this a wakeup call?
“I’m not sure we’re going to call it that but you have to play well to play in the league,” said MacLean. “We evaluate it on a game-by-game basis. At this point, the other 12 forwards are playing better.”
Other News and Notes:
– Rob Klinkhammer was acquired earlier this in a trade with Chicago that sent a conditional pick to the Hawks. I’m uncertain as to how many games, it may even be just one, he needs to play in to fulfill the condition that sends a 2013 seventh rounder to Chicago. It is something to keep an eye on.
– As the table from Dobber’s Hockey shows, Kaspars Daugavins and Zack Smith have both averaged more than a 1:30 of shorthanded ice-time over the past twenty games. With both players being scratches for tonight’s game, it will be interesting to see how the team compensates for their respective absences.