To me the inconsistency of this edition of the Ottawa Senators have so far been on the coaching staff as much as on the players.
How long did it took to see Zibanejad in the NHL ? Way too long.
Then, when we did see him, how long did we suffer seeing him get wasted with Neil and Greening? Again, way too long.
Best players play. Regardless of age, status, salary or role, best players play. That's what Maclean preached from day 1 and that's what brought him success and respect among fans and players around the league. Da Costa was never going to perform on the 4th line and we all knew it. Message sending or not, Zibanejad should have never started the year in the AHL. He was already one of our best foward last year and he clearly is a better player than Stephane Da Costa (and god knows I love Da costa). Best players play.
Zibanejad was outplayed during training camp you may say? Well yes and so what? Jason Spezza and Bobby Ryan were also outplayed by Cory Conacher. Craig Anderson has
very predictably been outrageously outplayed by Robin Lehner this season but Maclean had no problem taking out the NHL first star of the week while he was riding a 3 games winning streak on a team starving for points in favor of the struggling, slow season starter, .914%-2.75GAA career average goaltender. Best players play.
Then, there was the beginning of the year
back when talking about line changes like: Ryan with Turris and Spezza with Zibanejad was completely prohibited on S7S and/or was considered as a trade everyone conspiracy where the coaching staff took forever to make any change although something clearly wasn't working. There was no heart, no fight, no determination, no passion. It simply wasn't the Ottawa senators we were used to see. It wasn't so much about the losses at the time but the way we were losing suggested something was wrong. Yet, Maclean kept running with Anderson in net and a virtually intact lineup despite a few losses. It took the Kyle Turris pass to Bobby Ryan on the powerplay to make people realize those two could work.
Lastly but not least, there was wednesday game against the Caps. The 6-4 score won't reflect it but I thought it was one of our best defensive effort of the season. The way we competed. How we came back to win it. The character we showed. There was something to like about every aspect of that game. There was some pesky and there was magic we only saw flashes of this season. In my opinion, that game had the make up of a game we would look back to a few weeks later and say: So this is when it all started, it is when the turnaround happened.
Of course, that was wishful thinking. Way too beautiful to be true. Maclean pulled the magic he has going this season once again. He took Patrick Wiercioch out of the lineup after he played his finest game of the year where he came as close to preseason Patty as we've seen him all season long. Then, he took Cowen out after a game where he
finally wasn't the problem and choosed to go with a nursing Mark Borowiecki (who even at 100% doesn't offer what a trending in the right direction Jared Cowen does) and Joe Corvo who is... Joe Corvo. Those two moves, although hard to swallow after a huge win, would have been okay (to me at least) if Maclean didn't leave Anderson in the net against Vancouver. Look, I understand that he's trying to get his so called number 1 goalie going but heck, Anderson certainly wasn't the reason why we won against Washington and he didn't deserve a snif at the Vancouver game. It was the second half of a back to back and Lehner is the freaking 4th best goalie in the league save% wise. Chances are that even if he gets on a roll Anderson will not catch up with the way Lehner is playing right now or since the beginning of his NHL career for that matter. But of course, best players play.