The thing about trust is that it's a lot like faith: It doesn't mean much if you only have it when you don't need it.
Last year, Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean could do no wrong. It didn't matter what adversity the season threw at him--he had an answer. As the team kept winning, no matter how weird the decisions looked, we gave MacLean the benefit of the doubt, because we liked the results.
Now, though, the Senators are 4-6-2, so when we see a line in practice of Jason Spezza, Cory Conacher, and Chris Neil, we're not saying, "Trustache." We're saying, "What the hell?"
What have you done for us lately, coach? A Jack Adams Award? Oh, that was last year. What else have you got?
The important thing to remember is that MacLean's "Aw Shucks" persona is a complete act. This is a man who prepares fanatically, motivated by a fear of losing his job, and one who makes no moves that aren't calculated. He knows what he's saying. He knows what effect his actions are going to have. We saw a perfect example of this in the mind games that he against the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs last year. In antagonizing both the Habs players and coach, he kept the focus off his own players and helped distract his opponents. It was a intentional, and the "Hey, I'm just a guy who doesn't know much" shrugging act was just an act.
It's also worth noting that MacLean has shown no propensity to keep lines together. Even if we see Spezza on a line with Conacher and Neil to start tomorrow night's game, that doesn't mean those players will finish the game on the same line. While it might be questionable that the best players dress each game, MacLean has undeniably frequently shuffled lines in-game to get more minutes to the players who are performing well.
So what does a practice line of Conacher-Spezza-Neil mean? In two words:
- Speaking of Trustache, Nichols overreacts to today's practice lines. [T6S]
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau has been sent to Binghamton. Get your "Melnyk is poor" war drums going! [Senators Extra]
- Bonk's Mullet looks at some Senators' costumes for Halloween, and you really shouldn't read this, but you probably can't look away, either. [RBM]
- Proving that Bonk's Mullet has already gone stale, Sens TV also had a costume discussion, asking the players their best and worst ones. Bobby Ryan keeps a tight spectrum, going from ninja to Ninja Turtle, while Erik Karlsson is just an ass. [Inside the Senate]
- Wayne Scanlan says October sucked for the Senators, but things get better. B_T has been saying that for a while! [SE]
- Nichols questions why the Senators would overpay Colin Greening. [T6S]
- The team's numbers are off last year's pace, especially defensively. [SE]
- Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested on charges of domestic violence. Remember, he's innocent until proven guilty, so let's wait until we hear all the facts before judging. [PHT]
- Meanwhile, the lawyer for Varlamov's girlfriend makes some serious allegations. [PHT]
- The Montreal Canadiens have signed Alexei Emelin to a 4-year extension worth $16.4M, which is more than Jared Cowen makes. Emelin is not currently playing; he's rehabbing a torn knee ligament suffered late last season [Canadiens]
- Alex Ovechkin is day-to-day with an upper body injury and will miss tonight's game, which is a shame for anyone who enjoys hockey. [Twitter]
- The Toronto Maple Leafs won again despite being heavily outshot, which only widen the gap between those who trust statistical analysis and those who don't. [PHT]
- The St. Louis Blues are a good team, but are they a one-line team? [Post-Dispatch]
- The extremely talented Edmonton Oilers are off to their worst start in 20 years. Fans are getting restless. Get your "Craig Anderson for Taylor Hall" war drums going! [Edmonton Journal]