Early Season Observations

The season has just started but there are already talking points.

The Senators are just three games into the 2014-15 season and have yet to play a home game, but there are already things I'm mulling over.

Curtis Lazar. I thought the teenage rookie had a good debut against Nashville, especially in the first period. He didn't look tentative and seemed like he had the necessary positional awareness to play at this level. I didn't get to see the Tampa game because I was at my sister's wedding, but Lazar was scratched against the Panthers on Monday night. Scratching the youngster against weak opposition in the Panthers suggested to some that Lazar won't stick for around for nine games. I think it introduced the possibility that he gets returned to the Oil Kings only to be called up later in the season with games left to burn before his ELC kicks in. The Sens just showed they'll be a little more flexible where Lazar is concerned.

David Legwand. Liked the pickup in the summer even if the Sens weren't in dire need of more forwards. Was impressed with his play in the preseason, especially his offensive work. But I've been a bit underwhelmed by Legwand so far. I don't think he's been poor and he doesn't exactly have a lot to work with in terms of line mates but I don't think he's a long term solution for the second power play unit. So far he's averaged over three minutes a game on the power play, I think it's a bit too much.

Kyle Turris. Three points. Three games. Not bad. And I think there's still a lot more to expect from his line.

Chris Phillips. He's averaging almost 24 minutes per game so far. Those kinds of minutes are simply unsustainable. He's 36 and physically can't be expected to shoulder that load for very long. The longer he plays these kind of minutes the more error prone his game will become.

Shot differentials. It's still early, but the Sens are getting killed in this department. The Sens have 77 shots on goal so far this season but have surrendered 107. That's a difference of 10 shots each game. Eventually that's going to make a difference in the score line.

Erik Karlsson's power play time. Wow. Last year he averaged 4:05 PP TOI/G, which is a lot. In three games so far this season he's at 5:40 PP TOI/G. That's a substantial increase over last season. For some perspective, Alex Ovechkin led the league last season with an average of with 5:02 PPTOI/G (Karlsson finished eighth).

Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner. Both goalies have been excellent so far. Both have a win. Andy has a shutout while Lehner stopped 38 of 40 against Tampa. Andy has a 95.5 Sv% and Lehner has a 95.0 Sv%. More of that please.

Paul MacLean. Not crazy about some of his usage, but sitting Cowen so early in the season has to be seen as some sort of advancement. Getting Erik Condra back in the line-up was great but not so much with Colin Greening. Still, I can see why a coach would give a veteran player another chance to show what he could do before making any decisions. And it's clear a decision or two is coming.

Patrick Wiercioch. He's played just one game this season, but Wiercioch more than earned another shot with his performance against the Panthers. He was credited with two hits and four blocked shots in the game. While there are flaws in the way those stats are collected, it might indicate that Wiercioch is trying to be more engaged physically in his own end, an instruction he's most likely received from the coaching staff.

Alex Chiasson. Chiasson impressed me in preseason and has continued to impress me in the regular season. His chemistry with Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan is growing and that's a good thing, this team needs to scoring lines that click. He's faster than I thought and while he doesn't play the most physical game, it's hard to ignore his size.

Mika Zibanejad. Are people turning on Ziibanejad already? It's hard to tell but there have been rumblings on twitter and in the Silver Seven comment sections that suggest it's going to be harder to impress this season for the young centre.

Zack Smith. Leading up to the new season, Smith talked about taking on an increased role in terms of Ottawa's offense. Because of the organization's depth at centre, Smith would have to move to the wing if he wanted to tackle this new role. With Turris, Zibanejad, Legwand, and Lazar lining up at centre during the Sens' first two games, Smith was pushed to the wing and seemed largely invisible to me. I think at least part of the logic of swapping Condra for Lazar against Florida was to have Smith slot back in at centre. With Turris struggling on the draw right now (33% against Florida), Paul MacLean probably appreciated turning to Smith (who was 67% on the night).

Mark Stone. Stone has been impressive. He fits with Turris and MacArthur and is playing a strong possession game. He's got his first goal of the season out of the already. If he keeps this level of play up, more goals are bound to come.

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