On Monday we talked about who might surprise in the 2013-14 season for the Ottawa Senators. Now it's time to talk about the other side of the coin. It's inevitable: Someone isn't going to quite perform the way you'd hope they would. Last year Guillame Latendresse was that player for me. I had high hopes that he'd show soft hands and a willingness to use his size in front of the net--especially on the power play to replace Chris Neil--in a return to form that had him as such a force for the Montreal Canadiens at the start of his career. Instead, he couldn't stay in the lineup, first fighting through migranes and then head coach Paul MacLean's displeasure, and only showed flashes of the player he once was. I had hoped for so much more.
This year, I think the most likely candidates are Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.
That might sound crazy at first, but bear with me for a minute. Both players had unreal numbers last season. But last season was truncated--in a number of ways. There were only 48 possible games to play--not even a full season's workload for Anderson, and he only played in 24 of those. Lehner, meanwhile, played in 12, thanks to having to split time with the now-traded Ben Bishop. And small sample size skews statistics. I mean, think about this:
In 2010-11, Craig Anderson played 18 games for the Senators, and stole the hearts of Patrick Lalime haters forevermore, earning a nice contract for his efforts. He had a save percentage of .939 and a GAA of 2.05. In 2013, Anderson played 24 games for the Senators, which you know because I just told you earlier, and had a save percentage of .941 with a GAA of 1.69. But in between those seasons, Anderson played 63 games and had a save percentage of .914 and a GAA of 2.83.
Anderson did not forget how to play hockey in 2011-12 and then remember in 2013. It's just a combination of human nature and math. No one can be perfect all of the time. There will be off nights for Anderson and the team around him and there will be unlucky nights and nights when the other team is better. The more games played, the more chances there are for one of those events to happen, and thus, impact the statistics.
So, Anderson and Lehner's talent won't suddenly diminish--but statistically, it will appear to. Frankly, the team has become too reliant on saves like this and this to win games. Don't get me wrong, it's ideal to have a goalie that can make that big save to shift the tilt of the ice, but that can't be a nightly strategy. And how many nights have we seen Anderson, Lehner, or Bishop keep the Senators in a game until the team found their legs?
I think we've all--myself included--come to take the play of our goalies for granted after last season. Knowing that they can make the big save, and seeing them make the big save so often, we come to expect that the big save is routine. We have such disdain for soft goals that we're calling for a change after the first one, and allowing more than two goals is unacceptable. If we approach next season with those expectations, it's inevitable that we'll be disappointed. Neither Anderson nor Lehner can turn in a stellar performance every game. We might understand this rationally, but I bet each time it happens, we'll still be disappointed.
What player do you think is most likely to disappoint this season?
- NHL.com made my life easy by publishing a bunch of Sens articles yesterday, starting with a look at how the team expects young players to replace departed veterans. [NHL]
- Meanwhile, the trial by fire that was last season provides a strong foundation for this season's team. [NHL]
- Six burning questions about the team. I bet you could guess these without even reading. [NHL]
- The team is on Jason Spezza's shoulders now. [NHL]
- Trading for Bobby Ryan didn't deplete the team's depth. [NHL]
- Chris Phillips thinks it would be an hono(u)r to be named captain of the team. But really, what else is he going to say? [Senators Extra]
- The Sports Forecaster yearbook is apparently picking the Senators to win the President's Trophy and Stanley Cup. If everyone just starts picking the Senators as contenders, how will they keep up the "pesky" mindset? [SE]
- Ryan Classic and Bonk's Mullet took on Puck Daddy's National Hockey League of Nations for us, and took the concept of awesome behind the woodshed and roughed it up something fierce. If you read one link today, make it this one. [Puck Daddy]
- The San Jose Sharks unveiled new uniforms, and I'm going to be honest here: I can't tell the difference. [Sharks]
- Teemu Selanne will decide if he's going to play by next season--as long as he doesn't have a... diminished role. DUN DUN DUN! I say you pay Teemu. [PHT]
- Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks announced Sheldon Souray will miss 4-6 months with a torn ligament. They signed Marc Fistric to fill the gap, but come on: Eric Gryba for Jakob Silfverberg solves everyone's problems, if everyone that matters is Ottawa. [Ducks]
- The Pittsburgh Penguins named Mike Bales as their new
sacrificial lambgoaltending coach. Because what Marc-Andre Fleury needs is more coaches telling him more things to think about. [Penguins]
- A great article on how the Minnesota Wild are using advanced statistics. I'm going to start a collection to buy Adnan a copy of PUCKS, so he can be more than a menial government worker. [TwinCities]
- While we wring our hands over RFA Jared Cowen remaining unsigned, the Toronto Maple Leafs don't really have enough cap space to sign RFAs Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson left to get new deals .Kadri says it's not his job to worry about the cap. I would love to see him wind up on some other team because Dave Nonis spent all his money on David Clarkson and Tyler Bozak. [Twitter]
- Elliotte Friedman said yesterday that "some" within the NHL expect the cap to hit $80M in four years. Considering I've been saying it could be as high as $76M next season, I don't think that's unrealistic at all. At $80M, the cap floor would be about $58M, so Melnyk better sell some jerseys. [The Score]
More from Silver Seven:
- Top 25 Under 25, no. 11: Mike Hoffman
- Top 25 Under 25, no. 12: Mark Stone
- Top 25 Under 25, no. 13: Matt Puempel
- The Ottawa Senators Made The Right Decision
- Alfredsson speaks on broken promises and his exit from Ottawa
Silver Seven Game Night - Home opener
Another shout out for our Silver Seven game nights, specifically the home opener. Email Adnan at the address on his profile if you are interested. Payment is with Interac E-transfer.
- 17 October, 7:30 p.m. New Jersey Devils (home opener). END OF AUGUST DEADLINE TO PAY FOR THIS GAME
- 19 October, 2:00 p.m. Edmonton Oilers
- 21 December, 2:00 p.m. Phoenix Coyotes
- 23 December, 7:30 p.m. Pittsburgh Penguins (limit of 20 seats for this game at $40 price and 13 are taken)