For the first time in this still-young season, the new-look Senators will be playing with a chip on their collective shoulder. The Sens largely outplayed the Jets on Tuesday night and established the lead only to squander it in the dying seconds before fulfilling the prophecy with an overtime loss. Suffice to say, this team still has a lot of work to do despite some early signs of promise from the youngsters and new acquisitions.
While we may have hastily pressed some panic buttons after Tuesday night’s meltdown, I feel compelled to defend the fanbase because we’re a passionate group by nature and we’ve waited a while to care about something that actually happened on the ice. That being said, and in the spirit of upping our Senators rookies, DJ Smith still hasn’t coached 82 NHL games and we may have turned on the guy a little prematurely. He has made some—questionable choices, to be sure. And I disagree with a lot of his distribution when it comes to games and shifts. However, and I say this at the risk of sounding like an apologist, cut the coach some slack given the circumstances (coaching during a pandemic, fearing the coaches’ graveyard, the pressure of developing some tier-one prospects).
Not since Jacques Martin has an ex-Senators head coach found another head coaching gig in the NHL and as we all know, this market has a reputation for its mercilessness. At the end of the season if Smith still has Braydon Coburn and Cedric Paquette out there for crucial shifts then we can talk about it. For now, let it play out. We still have over fifty games to get the important young players in the lineup playing meaningful minutes, and you know the cliché about sprints and marathons. This team still has time to make mistakes before it really matters in the grand scheme of things. Let’s start with seeing how Smith rebounds from an embarrassing loss on Tuesday for which he has already borne the brunt of our ire.
- Tim Stützle remains doubtful for tonight’s game with a nagging injury. It’s been so long since we had nice things that I forgot sometimes they get taken away! (I’m half joking)
- Dylan DeMelo (congratulations on the newborn!) will play Saturday, making this something of a must-win game because DeMelo is the only Winnipeg defender who I know who he is, and you can’t lose consecutive games to a team with an even more anonymous defence-corps than Ottawa’s.
- Patrik Laine also remains doubtful for tonight’s game. This bodes well for the Senators as the winger from Tampere is on pace for 112 goals this season.
- It looks as though defender Ville Heinola could make his NHL debut tonight for the Jets.
- As if we didn’t have enough controversy about lineup decisions concerning the likes of Colin White, Logan Brown, and Filip Chlapik; Alex Galchenyuk went and had himself a hell of night based on both the eye test and the fancy stats on Tuesday. On the one hand, it’s nice to have a lot of capable forwards but on the other hand, Artem Anisimov is a player who exists.
- Also, Chlapik who still occupies a spot on the Senators’ taxi squad, practiced with the team yesterday and I think at this point coach Smith might just be messing with us.
- As someone who had nothing but negative comments about Nikita Zaitsev last season, I have to give the blueliner some credit in the spirit of fairness. Whether he can sustain this level of play or not, he has really excelled in tandem with Thomas Chabot through three games and he deserves credit for that.
- If we can all agree on one thing after Tuesday’s loss, the Senators need to address that Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler line. This seems fairly obvious to me as that appears to be the only Jets line that doesn’t have any made-up players.
- Nate Thompson? THE Nate Thompson?!
Catch the game on TSN3, TSN5, RDS, and TSN1200