It's Friday, and if you've been a reader on this site for even a few weeks you should know what that means. It's Five Thoughts For Friday! Here they are (by the way, don't worry, we'll be able to get to talk about real games very soon).
Dave Cameron's Deployment
I received this question on twitter on Wednesday when I asked about topics for 5 thoughts:
@ShackTS Will Cameron truly play the best players, or will he allow salaries like Greening's and seniority like Neil's to decide lineup?— sensei (@senssensei) September 9, 2015
It's a great question, and it's something to watch over the course of the season. One of the big positives from Cameron last year was that he wasn't afraid to sit Chris Phillips and Chris Neil when Paul MacLean never did. He seemed to favour the younger (and better) players which was truly refreshing. He still had that weird phase with Mike Hoffman playing on the fourth line, but besides that I was happy with his line deployment.
It'll be interesting to see if he changes anything this year, because he might feel compelled to give some veteran players like Colin Greening, Neil and even Phillips (if he comes back at all) another chance. Or maybe Bryan Murray puts some pressure on him to play those guys every once in a while, but I doubt it.
My whole opinion of Cameron could sway this year depending on how he uses the lineup. If he doesn't play Hoffman in the top-six and doesn't give players like Shane Prince, Matt Puempel, Chris Wideman much of a shot then I will be quite upset. However, as of now I think he has done a fine job.
Today it was announced that Nick Paul won't be playing in the rookie tournament this weekend, which is a shame because I bet he would have made quite the impression. Still though, it's fun watching this annual tournament because you can put lofty expectations on every player that plays well.
There are definitely a lot of players to keep an eye on, including Matt O'Connor in net, Thomas Chabot and Mikael Wikstrand on defense, and Filip Chlapik, Gabriel Gagne, Matt Puempel and Tobias Lindberg at forward. If you have a chance to watch some highlights this weekend on the Senators website, check it out. But take things with a grain of salt obviously as it's just three games. At a time when hockey games are non-existent, this is the closest thing we have to real NHL action.
Marc Methot: Defensive Extraordinare
Our friend Travis Yost posted a blog on TSN.ca yesterday, and he measured defensemen's ability to limit shots in "danger zones" like the crease and the high slot. His point was that you don't need to be a player like Zdeno Chara to be effective in the danger zones, and there were some surprising results. He compiled data from War On Ice in the past two seasons and took defenseman's shots against per 60 in each of those two zones.
The man who rated the best at deterring shots? None other than Erik Karlsson's defensive half, Marc Methot. It was quite a shock to see that he was the best in the league in the crease and the slot, but that's what the numbers say. I had always thought that Methot was a fine partner for Karlsson but that he could be better.
However, this is a good point to illustrate how important he is to Karlsson. Here's what Yost had to say about him:
That's a great point, and I'm pretty happy that we have him locked up for the next four years. Also, he's a funny dude.
Chris Phillips' Last Game
After it was already public knowledge that Phillips was still hurt, the team announced Tuesday that he has had a setback in his rehab:
Chris has experienced a setback in his recovery from back surgery that will delay his return to the ice. While the back surgery earlier this summer has alleviated all of the issues he experienced last season, he suffered a cracked vertebra during his rehabilitation.
A cracked vertebrae doesn't sound too good, especially for someone who is 37 years old and has been showing signs of regression for a few years. This is after Murray said he is "hopeful that Phillips will return for the second half." I don't know about you, but I'm betting that he's already played his last NHL game. If he isn't going to be ready until January, then there's no way he will be valuable enough to be slotted into the lineup halfway through.
If he doesn't retire, then I'd put money down that he's on LTIR for the entire season.
TSN 54-Game Schedule
TSN released a statement today saying that they will be broadcasting 54 Ottawa Senators games this season, the same amount as last year. That's good news already considering how bad Sportsnet has been so far in their new "era," but the even better news is that the same commentators will be on board again. The amazing Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller will be doing play-by-play commentary, and Jamie McLennan and Ray Ferraro will be the colour guys.
TSN has always been the better channel, and it's fantastic being able to watch Senators games on there throughout most of the season. Let me remind you that it was Cuthbert that made this magnificent call on Mark Stone's overtime winner against Pittsburgh:
Just 11 more days until the first pre-season game. We can do this.
Thanks for reading!