Today we look at the best writing of 2014 from the Silver Seven writers. It was a terrific and productive year for the staff at Silver Seven. There was lots of change and we added many talented writers with a variety of strengths and interests. From the humorous, the sarcastic, and the satiric, to the analytical and the fancy stats-based, to the angry, the touching, and the tearful, to the just plain visual, the Silver Seven crew had the Senators covered from every angle.
Take a look back at the year that was through the eyes of the Silver Seven team and keep reading in 2015 for all things Senators!
Michaela - Tactical Formations: Penalty Kill, July 10, 2014
The box is your standard PK formation. Players simply form a box or square in the defensive zone to shut down the middle of the ice and keep the other team to the outside. A player will generally not move from the box formation unless the puck carrier gets into a good scoring position. In that case, one player will go and attack, hopefully pressuring the opposition to give up the puck.
It's not the most aggressive penalty kill formation, and it will not result in many turnovers, but the box is one of the most commonly used tactics in the book.
Michaela breaks it down in this post and the results are fantastic! Many of us don't come from a playing background and this clear breakdown of penalty kill strategies is helpful for those wanting to understand the strategy of the game. This great piece was part of an impressive series from some of the newer members of the S7 staff!
Sheer Craziness - The Myth of Cost-Per-Point, October 1, 2014
This is the myth of "cost-per-point". It's not that money shouldn't be invested in players judiciously, it's that there is no substitute for money when it comes to winning championships. No budget team will win the Stanley Cup by following a "cost-per-point" strategy. Making the playoffs is not an adequate long-term goal for a franchise, but it seems to be the current aim of the Sens. Uncle Euge seems to have been selling this idea that our team is somehow smarter than the rich teams out there, and eventually we'll see it turn into success. I've seen the numbers, and I'm no longer buying it.
Sheer takes apart one of the most quoted Sens sound bites piece by piece in this post and it's hard not to side with him.
Darren - Senators need to revise internal player evaluations and roster construction, August 18, 2014
People often defend contracts like the Borowiecki or Neil ones by saying that it's not much money in the grand scheme of things. Which is true, but it misses the point that these players fill roster spots that can't be used by better players. That's the real problem. By filling your roster with long-term deals given to replaceable players, particularly on a cash-strapped team, you're accepting replaceable players as your talent level. Teams should aspire to have more than grinders on their fourth lines and more than fringe defensemen on their bottom pairing.
Darren takes issue with the way the Senators evaluate talent within the organization after a summer of curious signings on the blueline while also reminding us that this behaviour extends to how the team handles veterans.
Ary - Silver Nuggets: Anatomy of Senators Goals, October 10, 2014
Recap: MacArthur ditching the zone makes me think that it's a set defensive zone play, but the initial faceoff alignment with Borowiecki on the right-side is odd, especially because I think it'll be hard for a player to make this kind of perfect play consistently. MacArthur's one-touch play isn't to be understated either, as he clearly had a purpose to let Turris and Ryan enter the zone, taking advantage of a) Nashville's aggressive two-man forecheck, and b) Weber's aggressive pinch.
This post is quintessential Ary: in depth goal breakdowns and extensive Nugget links! Nobody does it better!
Nate - Mark Borowiecki, Patrick Wiercioch, and the Fallacy of "Tough D", October 10, 2014
Basically this: there's a reason that the Senators do very well when Wiercioch is on the ice, and simultaneously do poorly when Borowiecki is on the ice. When (if?) Wiercioch is next in the line-up, look for all the times he wins puck battles with little bits of skill, how smoothly the team breaks out, or how well they cycle -- you'll very quickly start to understand why he's as successful as he is. And then remember all those little victories if he has a head scratching giveaway and you're tempted to call for his replacement with a "Tough D" that hits everything that walks.
Nate takes on Ottawa's preference for big, tough D and explains that there are better ways to defend in the NHL. A compelling piece examining two different schools of hockey thought and different ways of seeing, Nate's post made waves in the S7 community when it was first published.
Mrs. O - Losing the Room: the Coach-Athlete Break-up, December 10, 2014
Yes, these are professional athletes and need structure, discipline, and constructive criticism. I absolutely do not think that athletes should be coddled, but there is a way to correct athletes and help them to improve without letting them forget you're on their side.
Written by the resident S7 bench boss, this post looks at the human side of the game and how breakdowns in personal relationships between players or between players and management can impact play and ultimately cost a coach his job.
Adnan - Top 25 Under 25 no. 1: Erik Karlsson, September 5, 2014
Karlsson is an elite player that can do things no one else in the league can. He is the only bona fide superstar on Ottawa and he is going to be need to near his best for the team to compete for a playoff spot. Världens bästa Karlsson was the världens bästa hockey player before he got injured in 2013. Is this the year he returns to being in Hart Trophy candidate form?
In what has become an annual tradition, Adnan writes about Erik Karlsson for the Top 25 Under 25 series. Unfortunately, this installment is Karlsson's last appearance in the series.
Peter - Reasons for Optimism: The Rookies, June 25, 2014
Add to this group young players like Mika Zibanejad, Cody Ceci, Mike Hoffman, Robin Lehner, Jared Cowen, and even Erik Karlsson (who's the same age as some of this year's rookie crop) and the emergent core of this team is readily apparent. A number of them played together for the Binghamton Senators' storied 2011 Calder Cup run, and most of them know each other very well. A few of these rookie candidates will gain some more experience this season, and we'll get a better idea of just how well this developing cohort meshes together.
Peter gets optimistic and talks about Ottawa's young players. We've seen some promising things from them so far this season, especially Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad, so it looks like he was on to something!
Brad - Hockey is Healing, October 23, 2014
That was yesterday, though. Hockey, and sports in general, can be healing. A cathartic experience. It can be a way to come together and bond in the aftermath, or a way for people to take their mind off of things for a few hours. It can be an emotional outlet, and a stage that can be used to show strength and support in the face of tragedy. We will see that tomorrow night at the Ottawa Redblacks game, and again on Saturday night when the Senators host the Devils.
Sometimes events off the ice are much more important than those on it. In October a tragic national event, the murder of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, took place in the heart of the Ottawa. As the community came to terms with this loss, Brad offered some words on the role sport can play in healing.
Amelia - The Spezza Trade: Paralysis and the way Back, July 9, 2014
Writing keeps me connected but when this paralysis sets in, it takes that too. Not with a lot of fanfare, not in a way that's noticeable to others, but it quietly strips me of the tools I rely on to stay connected and present. This paralysis has a name: depression.
I had a hard time picking. I almost picked this piece on Exclusion and sports because the topic has been relevant in 2014. However, I picked the piece I did because it's relevant too and getting harder to deal with.
Ian - Prospect Update: Bad News From Bingo, December 22, 2014
36 seconds into the first period:
It couldn't get any worse right? The next 5-man unit took the ice hoping to right the ship. Again the Phantoms took possession, entered the Binghamton zone, and floated a soft wristshot on net from the right wing that found its way through Hammond. 3-0 Lehigh Valley.
I picked a recent Prospect Update piece by Ian, but I could have just as easily picked any Prospect Update post. His work is always descriptive, detailed, and a pleasure to read.