Last season, when Jason Spezza was injured, Kyle Turris stepped up. Then, when Erik Karlsson was injured, Sergei Gonchar stepped up. Then, when Craig Anderson was injured, both Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner stepped up.
Lost in that narrative is that so, too, did guys like Colin Greening, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and, yes, Erik Condra. Remember, that line was the team's best line in the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was strong play from the team's bottom six that helped the top six stay afloat. The Senators last year played a team game, where the top line wasn't looked to for scoring three goals a night to win the game.
This season, through seven games, the bottom six has 8P (3G, 5A). Those are great numbers for an individual (Hey, Spezza has 8P (5G, 3A NESTED PARENTHESES) in 6 games!) but when you consider those are the combined numbers of Greening, Condra, Pageau, Z. Smith, Stephane Da Costa, Chris Neil, and Matt Kassian, it's decidedly less good. When you also consider that Greening has also spent time in the top six, and that half of Z. Smith's points came from a shift with top players (Spezza and Karlsson last night in this case) and fully two-thirds of Greening's points have been generated the same way, things get downright abysmal. As a distinct group, they're generating just .57 points per game. Not goals, points.
This means that as a group, the team can count on its bottom two lines to contribute either a goal or an assist every other game. That's simply not good enough. It's being masked right now because the top six group has 31P (14G, 17A) in that same timeframe, and Erik Karlsson, Joe Corvo, and Patrick Wiercioch have 13P (3G, 10A), but that can't last.
Sure, one might argue that Da Costa has already been waived and players like Neil and Kassian aren't out there to score goals--and that's true. But players like Neil and Kassian aren't out there to put their team on the penalty kill, either. 27 of the team's 57 PIMs have come from the bottom six (mostly from Neil) and while that indicates the team's penalty problems are a team-wide epidemic, the simple truth is that the top six group is scoring at a rate that offsets those penalties while the bottom six is not.
Goal-scoring is not necessarily the role of the bottom six, but as long as the bottom-six group puts the team in a hole they're unable to help it dig out of, one doesn't have to look further for the hidden anchor on the team. The bottom six have a simple choice: Score more or go to the box less. Either one solves a lot of problems for this team.
- Paul MacLean was not happy with last night's win. That's because he knows it should have been a loss. [Senators Extra]
- Chet Sellers teaches us about advanced statistics, but I suspect he is not taking the science seriously. [RBM]
- Even Wayne Scanlan thinks last night's win was ugly. When you win ugly and the score is 5-2, that's bad. [SE]
- Jeremy Milks was at the game and has some thoughts. [Black Aces]
- Our own Ryan Classic has thoughts as well, but they're the crazy ramblings of a diseased mind. [S7S]
- Inside The Senate has more of Paul Maclean's thoughts. Everybody's thinking stuff today. [Senators]
- Jonathan Bernier did not play goal very well for the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. [Puck Daddy]
- Cody McLeod has an in-person hearing for his hit on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. I would love it if instead of giving the same old "I was just finishing my check" excuse he just offered up, "I Kronwalled him, dude." [PHT]
- The Philadelphia Flyers are having some serious offensive woes. Remember when they only had goaltending woes? Also remember, the Flyers have the fifth-highest salary in the league, and that's with gaming the system due to Chris Pronger's injury. This team is a disaster on every level. [Philly.com]
- Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers broke a Wayne Gretzky record, and that's generally how you know you might do well in the league. Gretzky knows what's up, though. [PHT]
- The Washington Capitals gave up a good player to get Martin Erat. Now he's playing on their fourth line. [Washington Post]
- Daniel Alfredsson was named Puck Daddy's first star of the night for his three-assist night in Detroit's 4-2 win over the previously unbeaten Colorado Avalanche. Erik Karlsson also had three points, including a goal, was the second star. Karlsson has a Norris Trophy while Alfredsson has zero Norris Trophies, so I'm not sure how that works. [Puck Daddy]