If you follow the Ottawa Senators even just a bit, you know that one of the biggest issues amongst fans is the team defence, and specifically the play of the third pairing, which includes Mark Borowiecki and Jared Cowen. I have been saying for the longest time that this pairing is not good enough, and the results so far speak for themselves.
Can they turn it around? Maybe, but I seriously doubt it. In 9 games, the duo has a 35.7% corsi, and they haven't exactly shown much in the past.
That simply is not good enough, even with the low expectations that come with being a third defence pairing. If I could improve one part of the team instantly, it would be to add a proven defenceman for the second pairing, which would push Cody Ceci into a more manageable position. The problem is, there are basically only two options right now if the 3rd pairing is to go extinct: trade for someone else, or play Chris Wideman.
Considering Bryan Murray has only made two trades in the past year, I doubt the former is a legitimate option. I have been on the Wideman bandwagon since last season, and I think many fans are now as well. He has played in only three games, but he has been very impressive:
Wideman's 3 GP vs. Sens' Season AVG. And THIS is the player who will be a healthy scratch when Methot comes back. pic.twitter.com/8v2obaEW2x— Sens Charts (@SensCharts) October 25, 2015
While Wideman could make the team better, he will still have to play with one of Borowiecki or Cowen, and that's why playing him will not solve everything. There are some who still believe the third pairing can be serviceable, but only if they begin to turn things around. That's why I want to see where peoples frustration levels are at, and how long they are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. So this weeks question will be: how long of a leash do Borowiecki and Cowen deserve?
Here are the options:
1. Change it now
Wideman has done more than enough to play every night, and Borowiecki and Cowen have had a long enough audition. There's no time to waste in a tight Eastern Conference.
2. Give them a few more games
It's only been 9 games, and they deserve at least a few more games to show what they have before some changes are made. They may turn it around.
3. To the 20 game mark
20 games is a good enough sample to show how a pairing is playing together, and if they haven't improved at that point, then make a change.
4. To the 30 game mark
This is around the point that the young players got more ice time last year, so Wideman will have to go through the same this year. I'm fine with having our 3rd pairing as long as they don't get worse.
5. They are good enough as is
Borowiecki and Cowen are serviceable, and their poor play is being overblown (I'm sorry, it was hard to write that).
Let me know what you think!