Given how overcrowded the Ottawa Senators roster is right now, especially with so much youth, there are going to be nights when a player is scratched despite his play, rather than because of it. Tonight seems to be one of those nights, at least in the case of Nikita Filatov.
Don't get me wrong: There's definitely room for The Filatov Cocktail to improve. He's scored one assist and is one of only three Sens on the positive side of the plus-minus ledger despite limited ice time, but he's only taken one shot on net in that time. He appears to be somewhat timid so far, perhaps out of fear of making a mistake, perhaps for some other reason. But tonight seems like one of those games where a player is sent to the press box to watch the game and recalibrate himself, rather than to feel shame.
Until this roster sorts itself out, though, we'll see lots of changes to the lineup. There are three spare forwards on the roster (also sitting tonight will be Bobby Butler and Jesse Winchester), and it looks like the team is pretty close to full health. Those are three NHL players sitting in the press box, make no mistake; it will be interesting to see how the lineup shakes out, because a team can't carry three extra forwards and two extra defencemen for an entire season.
In Filatov's favour seems to be the fact that he's taken the demotion as positively as one can take it, explaining to the media afterwards that "[MacLean] told me what I have to work on and I’m going to do it." Similar in many ways to the reaction of Butler, who's made similar comments about accepting the criticism and working on the shortcomings in his game.
But if kids make positive strides and have to remain in the press box despite them, there will almost certainly be a good amount of anger, frustration, and negativity around the team.
Links after the jump.
- Line changes galore for tonight's game, including the unceremonious breakup of our most successful line that will see Milan Michalek on the second line and Nikita Filatov in the press box. Peter Regin is also back from his injury. Lines from practice: Greening-Spezza-Zibanejad. Michalek-Da Costa-Alfredsson. Foligno-Regin-Neil. Smith-Konopka-Condra. (Ian Mendes)
- David Rundblad will make his NHL debut tonight, and Brian Lee is scratched. Pairings: Phillips-Rundblad, Kuba-Karlsson, Cowen-Gonchar. (Ian Mendes)
- Tonight's prediction panel has a surprisingly high amount of optimism, with six of eight panellists calling a Senators victory. (Senators Extra)
- Dany Heatley is expecting "some booing" tonight. If that's all he's expecting, he's in for a surprise; there will be a lot. (Sportsnet)
- Jesse Winchester is practicing with the team again, and his return will mean another decision to be made about our current forward group--which includes 15 skaters. (Citizen)
- Winchester's return coincided with a bag-skate. The Paulrus doesn't mess around. (Citizen, Sun)
- After calling Heatley a "suckhole" (really?), Don Brennan pondered whether or not Sergei Gonchar's less than impressive play will make him the next target for Senators boo-birds. (Sun)
- Has Stephane Da Costa been the most impressive Senator so far this season? I could see good reasons to make that argument. (Winnipeg Free Press)
- Former Senators enforcer Mike Peluso's argument in support of fighting wasn't altogether convincing (at least not to me), but he makes a darn good argument that players today need to keep their head up and take responsibility for their own health. (Written by Earl McRae, so prepare yourself for the dramatic tale of one underdog just trying to get by.) (Sun)