On Friday, Graham Nichols over at The 6th Sens wrote an article about Chris Phillips slowly having his role reduced. Now we know he is not going to demand a trade ala Dany Heatley, but what does this mean for Phillips?
So, is his role being reduced? By average ice time per game, Phillips is ranked third on the club. This would actually be fourth had Sergei Gonchar not missed the last two periods of the Washington game, bringing his average down. However, in terms of shorthanded ice time, Phillips is still second on the club and just eight seconds behind Brian Lee.
Phillips is also no longer exclusively being used against the opposition's top players. That task is now being given to Filip Kuba and Erik Karlsson. Against Detroit, Phillips and Brian Lee played against the Pavel Datsyuk line (not exclusively, but more so than anyone else). Against Toronto, it was Erik Karlsson and Filip Kuba who largely played against both the Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski lines. This continued against Minnesota where Karlsson and Kuba played against Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu. Karlsson had 19 minutes of even strength ice time, and more than 10 of those minutes was against the Heatley line. Phillips mostly played against Kyle Brodziak's line. This changed against Colorado where Phillips played against Matt Duchene's line more than any other defenceman. Lastly, against Washington, it was Karlsson and Kuba again who played against Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, while Phillips played against Alexander Semin who is no slouch either.
So, what is Phillips' role now? He is definitely not part of the top pairing, that is clearly Erik Karlsson and whomever his partner happens to be. It is also worth mentioning that Phillips is playing with David Rundblad, so perhaps the reduced role for Phillips is more to protect Rundblad than Phillips. To be fair to Phillips, he's not being paid like a top pairing defenceman so it isn't fair to expect him to play like one. I have often been critical of Phillips, but I actually like his recent play. Over the last year and the early part of this, I no longer think he is good enough to be getting top pairing minutes or playing against the opposition's best lines all the time. But giving him a reduced role will allow him to be more successful and contribute. I see him as a second pairing guy, and possibly third pairing next season, with a good amount of penalty kill time.
Links after the jump.
- Game recaps. (Silver Seven, Ottawa Sun, Ottawa Citizen)
- Stats from NHL.com (Boxscore, Game Summary, Event Summary, Face-Off, Play by Play, Ice time, Shot Report)
- Advanced stats from TimeOnIce.com (Corsi, Head-to-Head Ice time, Zone starts)
- Post-game video with Daniel Alfredsson. Alfie says, "Too much Swedish, not enough finish." Ha! Funny Alfie! He does seem a bit down that he wasn't able to finish some of the chances he had. (Ottawa Senators)
- Post-game video with Chris Phillips where he talks about the importance of keeping the shifts short and conserving energy when down to five defencemen. (Ottawa Senators)
- Post-game video with Jason Spezza. He says he saw the entire play happen on his disallowed goal and puts it down to human error on the part of the referee. (Ottawa Senators)
- Post-game video with Paul MacLean. He feels the Senators have played well in parts of four of the five games so far this season. MacLean thinks the Senators deserved a better fate but thinks the Senators might have to lose a few games like this before they start winning. He said Sergei Gonchar is day-to-day with a bruised foot, and Gonchar's status for the next game depends on his pain threshold. (Ottawa Senators)
- Erik Karlsson (before the Washington game), didn't feel his play is bad defensively and feels he is good in his own end, adding he doesn't care if people write about his defensive struggles, as long as he himself feels he is playing well. He also is getting more comfortable playing a lot of minutes. As for why he is growing his hair? Well, he is getting married next summer and wants one year with long hair before his future wife makes him get rid of it. (Ottawa Sun, Ottawa Citizen)
- Before the Senators rebounded with a better effort against Washington, Pro Hockey Talk wrote an article asking if the Senators really are that bad. They feel the Senators defence needs Erik Karlsson to play all sixty minute, and also have himself as his defensive partner. Needless to say, they see us heading for the #1 overall pick. Well, Winnipeg and Columbus still have not won a game yet! (Pro Hockey Talk)
- Don Brennan likes what he saw from the Senators three young defencemen, Karlsson, Rundblad and Cowen. With Sergei Gonchar injured, the Senators played most of the game with five defencemen and three out of those five were 21 or under. (Ottawa Sun)
- Paul MacLean confirms they won't decide whether Mika Zibanejad will return to Sweden until he has played nine games. (Ottawa Sun)
- The Senators had four Swedish players playing against Washington, and with Robin Lehner, Jakob Silfverberg and Andre Petersson waiting in the wings, they could have seven of them playing next season. But could the Senators have been filled with Russians instead of Swedes? A Fan Post from sensory_experience takes a look. (Silver Seven Fan Post)
- Can Jason Spezza outscore Nicklas Backstrom this year? Maybe, it's possible but Backstrom has Alexander Ovechkin and Spezza has...Colin Greening. But when you read this website, not only do you get hockey discussion, but also a whole bunch of laughs. I mean, can you read "T.J. Maxx Presents Stanley Cup.com" and not laugh? That wasn't even the best part though. What are they trying to do? Well he says: "I’m just trying to put a roof over my post and food on my blog here". (Welcome To Your Karlsson Years)
- On a more serious note, Varada this time writes about the dilemma of cheering for your team and still getting a high draft pick. The loss to Washington was the perfect scenario in his mind, where the club played very well but still lost. (Welcome To Your Karlsson Years)
- The first 2012 mock draft is here. With the first overall selection, the Ottawa Senators are proud to select, from Tatarstan, Russia, Nail Yakupov! (The Hockey Writers)
- Nikita Filatov had a solid weekend in Binghamton. He had two goals and an assist on Friday, was scoreless on Saturday and added another goal on Sunday. Filatov's tally for the weekend was 3 goals, 1 assist, 4 points, 10 shots with a +3 rating. He was also named as one of the three stars twice. He did get benched in the last 13 minutes of the second period, but responded well in the third. Robin Lehner started both wins. (Press & Sun-Bulletin)
- Our public address announcer thinks we will go 3-0 this week. After hosting Philadelphia tomorrow, the Senators play the only two clubs below them in the standings, Winnipeg and Columbus. (Stunt Man Stu)
- Craig Anderson (personal reasons), Bobby Butler (groin) and Sergei Gonchar (foot) missed practice today. (Dan Seguin)
- Lines in practice were: Greening-Spezza-Zibanejad, Michalek-Da Costa-Alfredsson, Foligno-Regin-Neil, Smith-Konopka-Condra. (Sylvain St-Laurent)
General Hockey News
- A good discussion on advanced statistics in hockey. Cam Charron writes why Corsi can't be taken too literally because there are some things that Corsi doesn't measure. Gabe Desjardins, generally accepted as the pioneer of advanced statistics in hockey, counters that if things like 'hustle' matter, then someone should prove this instead of just saying so. Personally, I don't feel Corsi in itself should be used to judge a player. But Corsi, in combination with zone starts, quality of the opposition, or even situational Corsi, can help provide a clearer picture. (Arctic Ice Hockey)
- Don Cherry apologised! Now remember, all you kids out there, when you are wrong you have to admit as much. It's the Kingston way. (Yahoo!)
- Phil Kessel has had a ridiculously good start, can he keep it up? (Yahoo!)
- The KHL is expanding to Italy, bringing the number of nations represented in the league to six, joining Russia, Slovakia, Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan. (Yahoo!)