We are who we are
Last night's loss was basically as ugly as you can get. Ottawa made it semi-close as it was 5-3 with a few minutes left, but giving up a five-spot in the first period against a team like the Devils is simply unacceptable. And that is something that good hockey teams would not do. As of this morning, the Senators sit three points behind New Jersey with a game in hand for the final wildcard spot. But they also have Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia right around them in the hunt as well.
Their record of 22-19-6 isn't exactly flattering, and their 3rd last possession numbers haven't improved much since the beginning of the year. If they want to make the playoffs, it'll be an uphill climb just like last year. They won't need nearly as many points to close the gap, but that doesn't make it any easier. Plus, what Ottawa did last year won't happen again for decades, so expecting a similar run of excellence would be foolish.
It seems that the best case scenario for this team is a wildcard berth, which isn't where this team needs to be.
Mark Borowiecki turns off Twitter
On Tuesday, Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen ran a story about how Mark Borowiecki has gone off of Twitter recently due to all the hatred and negative comments coming from Senators fans. Reading this article I think a lot of fans realized again that although it's easy to make comments about how one player is terrible or about how he shouldn't be on the team, the guys on the team aren't emotionless robots.
Borowiecki obviously has feelings, and he must have taken offense to what he was seeing:
"I’m still a human being, too," Borowiecki says. "And regardless of what TV channel you show up on, on weeknights or the interviews we do, I’m still a person and reading that stuff is just not good, it’s not healthy for anyone, I think."
It's good to see him not get too worked up about things, although that doesn't mean he is immune to criticism. If he isn't doing a good job, then fans, bloggers, and journalists have every right to discuss what he did wrong. But sometimes it goes too far when it's a personal attack, and that is probably why he doesn't want to read most of the things said on Twitter. One other interesting quote Borowiecki gave was this one:
"You go ask the guys in that locker room what they think about analytics – you’ll probably either get punched in the face or they’ll laugh you out of there. There’s not too many guys who take it seriously.
Man, so it looks like the anti-analytics thoughts are a top-down belief in the organization.
Canadian teams in the playoffs
As of this morning, Vancouver is the only Canadian team in the NHL in a playoff spot. Even after their amazing start to the season, the Montreal Canadiens are not even in a wildcard spot anymore, making Vancouver the top Canadian team somehow. Just think about that for a second. The Senators have not had a good year by any definition, yet they were first amongst Canadian teams yesterday before they lost and the Canucks won.
If you go team by team, things aren't looking so great. The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets are the three worst teams in the Western Conference, with the Vancouver Canucks being 3rd place in the horrific Pacific Division but they have the second least ROW's in the conference. The Toronto Maple Leafs have no shot in the Eastern Conference, and then Canadiens and Senators are inching in on a wildcard spot.
So the only truly realistic Canadian teams that could make the playoffs are Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver, and if Montreal doesn't have Carey Price for much of the season then they could be in deep trouble. I think the whole "how many Canadian teams are in the playoffs" narrative is tiring though, just because I don't think I would even want another Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup. I mean, can you imagine this face holding the Cup?
It's not like this is a national sport with two countries facing off against each other, but of course the media needs something to talk about. Nevertheless, it would be quite amazing if the Senators end up being the top Canadian team at the end of the year.
Senators attempt to right the ship with Wikstrand
After months of being in Sweden while not playing any hockey at all, the Senators have finally allowed Mikael Wikstrand to play in the SHL by loaning him to Farjestad BK. He has been staying close to his brother who has leukemia, and there was essentially no chance he was going to play in Binghamton. I think that before his brother even got ill that Wikstrand wasn't thrilled about playing in the AHL anyways, but this gave him a legitimate reason to stay home.
I remember in the summer there was so much back and forth between "he's coming to the AHL," and "he wants to stay in Sweden," so my gut feeling was that he was going to stay in the SHL. In the end, this whole saga has been a huge mistake by both sides. Wikstrand was about to leave the country without telling the team, which would of course sound extremely suspicious. There is talk that he isn't great at communicating, but there must have been some way that he could have let the team know about his desires and why. Ottawa knew he wanted to stay in Sweden, but he never said for what reason.
Of course, Ottawa doesn't look great in this either, as they were playing hardball with him for no reason. You would think that the organization would put their players where they are most comfortable. Now he has lost half a season of development, and I'm sure the relationship has soured. Whether he wants to come over to North America next year remains to be seen, although Bryan Murray did say this:
"It appears that playing hockey in North America is not a consideration for Mikael at any point in the immediate future."
I am not sure if that just means he will stay for the rest of the season, or if that means he doesn't ever want to come to the NHL. He seems like a good prospect, but I doubt he'll ever suit up in the NHL for Ottawa now.
NHL Obliges with John Scott in the ASG
After a blatant attempt to keep John Scott out of the All-Star game, the NHL actually agreed to keep him in the game as the Pacific Division captain (despite playing for St. John's in the AHL). I have to say, this was unexpected from my point of view. The NHL put such little emphasis on the Fan Vote for the All-Star game simply because they didn't want to put more attention to Scott leading the vote.
I can see why they wouldn't want him in the game, because it's essentially showing them that the system is broken. But this is what the fans wanted. The clear majority of real hockey fans wanted him in the game, including myself. I haven't watched many All-Star games in the last few years, but I certainly will now because this huge tough guy who can hardly skate will be representing an entire division while playing against the best of the best.
I think the NHL saw the vitriol they received when he was traded, and then a few days later succumbed to the pressure from the fans. There is no way that they thought he would ever be playing in the game, but that shows that the fans might actually have some pull now.
I'm not sure that will make them decide differently in other various situations, but I think that the fans might have a voice. This Fan Vote is as much about Scott having fun out there and charming everyone as it is the fans showing the league who's boss.
If these Five Thoughts got you down a bit, don't worry! Next weekend you won't even have to worry about watching the Senators.