The All-Star break gives us an opportunity to look back and reflect on the first half of the season. Today's Email Hot Stove asks the Silver Seven staff to answer three questions (plus a bonus!) about the Sens. You can participate by giving us your answers to these questions in the comment section:
1. Who's your team MVP and why?
2. Who disappointed you most and why?
3. What do you want to happen most in the second half of the season?
Bonus: Who would you have picked to represent Ottawa at the All-Star game?
Who's your team MVP and why?
Ross: with honourable mentions to Erik Karlsson, Bobby Ryan, and Mike Hoffman, the team MVP has to be Craig Anderson. The team has twice won with Andy on net after beating the opposing goalie only once. Love it or hate it, he's the reason management still thinks we can make the playoffs.
Michaela: As much as I want to make Craig Anderson my MVP, I have to go with Mike Hoffman. He is having a breakout year, leading the team in goals and plus/minus. Oh... and it's his first full season in the NHL. His play makes watching Sens games more exciting than they actually are at times. That being said, I have to give credit to Anderson. Like Ross said, he's probably the only reason the Sens aren't in the Connor McDavid race.
Amelia: With apologies to Craig Anderson, who formed one of the best tandems in the NHL with Robin Lehner for the first two months of the season and has been great all year long, Erik Karlsson is my team MVP. Karlsson had a bit of a rough start to the year (like so many Sens defensemen) but has been playing great the last couple of months and has been the best defenseman in the world with the return of a competent NHL defenseman as his partner. His defensive play was not where it needed to be to start the season, but he's quietly been Ottawa's best blueliner defensively for a few months now.
Peter: I've got to go with Anderson, for much the same reason Ross said. I was initially thinking Hoffman, but Andy's dominance has been very, very impressive. Amelia makes a good argument for Karlsson, but I still think Anderson's been more valuable (if only slightly).
Adnan: Erik Karlsson because with the Methot injury and the Patrick Wiercioch scratching, he's been the only NHL level defenceman on the team for many nights and having to be the team's best defensive defenceman and their most dangerous offensive option. His point totals are a bit down at the moment but he is tied for third in the entire league with 176 shots, which is pretty insane. The 3.83 shots per game by a defenceman has been done only once by a defenceman since 2001 and only by 14 different defencemen ever. With a little more luck, he would easily be up there at near a point per game. As with most things on this team, I blame Chris Phillips for Erik's earlier struggles.
Sarah: Craig Anderson. I think without him, the team would be much worse off than they are now.
Ian: Easily Erik Karlsson. When I think of an MVP, I think of a player that if you were to remove him from the team, the team would suffer greatly. Erik Karlsson is an essential piece of the puzzle. Without him, we'd be in even more trouble than we already are. He's invaluable on both offense and defense.
Who's disappointed you most and why?
Ross: I think the biggest disappointment so far has been Michalek. His point totals have been terrible. I can count the games he's been noticeable on one hand. I didn't think he was this washed up. It's amazing to think he was given a multi-year extension in the summer.
Michaela: My expectations weren't too high for him, but I would have to say Milan Michalek. For what he's being paid, and how much ice time he gets, he should be performing much better than he has so far this season.
Amelia: Marc Methot's injury. Not only did it prevent the Sens from having two legitimate Top 4 defensemen for the bulk of the seasons so far, Methot being injured denied us Superstar Karlsson for three months. This season probably looks different with a healthy Methot.
Peter: Everything, really, but probably the entire Ottawa Senators blue line except for Erik Karlsson and Eric Gryba. Methot's injury was a disappointment, and the play of Wiercioch, Cowen, and Phillips has been inconsistent to terrible. I guess Mark Borowiecki hasn't been disappointing, but that's mostly because he's done pretty well in the role I expected him to fulfill (bottom-pairing, little-used, hard-hitting defender).
Adnan: sticking with Paul MacLean as long as they did. The team has played a lot better with Dave Cameron even if the results haven't always been there but it is clear that the team is far more competitive under Cameron than they were with MacLean.
Sarah: It's a toss-up between Legwand and Chiasson. I'm always really excited for new players to show their stuff, but I don't think either has delivered anything to write home about.
Ian: While Legwand was disappointing, I didn't have huge expectations for him coming in. I'd have to say the biggest disappointment was Cowen because I had big hopes for him this season and he has come up short. I was hoping he would be able to solidify his spot as a 2-4 defenseman, but he has failed to be consistent. He has come along a bit in the last while, but he still falls well short of the shutdown defenseman role that I was hoping he could fill.
What do you want to happen most in the second half of the season?
Ross: In the second half, I want to see the kids given more chances and guys like Smith gone. I want to see the team position itself to actually compete in two years.
Michaela: In the second half, I would like management to stop talking about making moves, and start actually making them. There are only so many times Bryan Murray can openly say that he's shopping Colin Greening around before it becomes evident that no one wants him. Waive him or trade him in a package. Move the players we no longer use. Basically what I'm saying is that I want to see Greening traded.
Amelia: this team needs to get rid of some veteran deadweight (Phillips, Neil, Smith, Greening, Legwand) for assets and open up some space for next season. If/when this team misses the playoffs, just win the draft lottery. Simple.
Peter: I'd like the team to continue doing well, but also trade away the dead weight Amelia mentioned. And maybe, if possible, re-sign Methot to a good extension and acquire another top-four defenceman.
Adnan: If we are going by what I want to happen, I guess going on an insane run and making the playoffs. But realistically, I would hope they trade the dead weight in Chris Phillips and Chris Neil for whatever is the best offer. Trading Jared Cowen while he is no longer at least at rock bottom could also be a smart move.
Sarah: I want GMBM to make some solid moves at the trade deadline that aren't nearsighted. If he's going to trade for someone to make the roster better, I hope it's not for an older player and I hope he doesn't give up an asset like a first-rounder for that player. If they trade players like Legwand and some of the other veterans who don't contribute to the team's success anymore, I'll be pleasantly surprised.
Ian: Find their identity and find some consistency. We've had some bad habits in the past of playing up to the level of better teams and playing down to the level of worse teams. I want to say that I'm optimistic that we can push for a playoff spot, but we really haven't shown any sign of a run like that being possible. I hope the Sens are not buyers at the deadline and that they are able to unload some of their players who don't fit into the team's long-term plans.
Bonus: Who would you have picked to represent Ottawa at the All-Star Game?
Ross: My All-Stars are Anderson and Karlsson, with Hoffman at the young stars game.
Michaela: I agree with choosing Bobby Ryan (from a flashy, entertainment perspective) and Mike Hoffman, but I would have added Erik Karlsson to the All-Star roster. I mean, come on, it's Erik Karlsson!
Amelia: I'm ok with Bobby being there (even if it probably should have been EK) but Craig Anderson not being recognized is a true shame.
Peter: Karlsson, Anderson, Hoffman. But Bobby being there is fine too.
Adnan: Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson and Mike Hoffman should be at the all-star game.
Sarah: I would have picked Anderson and Karlsson/Ryan with Hoffman for the rookies.
Ian: I think that Bobby Ryan was a great choice for the All-Star game. He has some flash that he can put on display for the fans. I do wish that Karlsson and Anderson also got the call, but since the NHL is taking the politically correct route of having at least one representative per team, I'm fine with just Bobby Ryan.