Five Thoughts for Friday
Including why Friday's game is so important and why everyone should stop fingering poor Craig Anderson
Here are some things that have had the old hamster in my head slowly creaking in his wheel.
1. Senators fans are maddeningly inconsistent. Earlier in the season, Mika Zibanejad’s unexpected demotion to the AHL sparked weeks of debate amongst Senators fans about whether players are better developed by playing big minutes in the lower league or reduced minutes on a fourth line in the NHL. But no one is questioning the wisdom of the former approach for Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Maybe the difference is that Pageau was looking pretty overwhelmed, whereas Zibanejad never did. Still, the same arguments should presumably apply to both.
2. On the subject of Pageau, I think Senators fans had unrealistically high expectations for the kid (and if you don’t believe me, a Google search yields more than a few projections of him winning the Calder). Pageau’s 19 game stint with the NHL team last year was terrific, but it was also pretty obviously an anomaly based on a very small sample size (and a very terrible Carey Price). The real test for an NHL player, as I imagine Thomas Hertl is going to find out at some point this season, is keeping up the quality and intensity of your play over a long and gruelling season. Pageau has shown enough to make us think that he could be a good third line center, but he also still has a lot to learn (such as how to win a goddamned faceoff). Some time in the AHL should do him well.
3. May pre-July 5, 2013 Alfie have mercy on our goalies, and Craig Anderson in particular. Andy is starting to get called out by fans for his play during our current three game losing streak. However, most of the criticisms seem to revolve around the number of goals allowed; not some specific deficiency in his game. In my opinion, Andy is doing just fine, and most of the goals can be chalked up to abhorrent defensive coverage. Blaming Andy for our recent disaster in Chicago is like blaming Ray Finkle for missing a field goal after Marino held the laces in. In my opinion, if we’re going to pull anyone for Lehner, it should be Jared Cowen!
4. Speaking of Lehner, he will be facing the Islanders tonight in a game billed by many Senators fans as the beginning of the easy part of our schedule. I certainly hope the team is not looking at this one the same way because we need a win badly, and I do not think John Tavares, Thomas Vanek, and friends are going to be an easy team to take down. If the Senators lose this one, there will be no, "don’t worry, this is the tough stretch" narrative to fall back on. I really do not want to see what the next narrative will be if that happens.
5. The Senators' game against Dallas this weekend is on Sunday at 1pm. That is idiotic. The Canadian Tire Centre is going to be half empty. The game will not be on a single TV in Dallas since it is scheduled against a Dallas Cowboys game. I imagine quite a few TVs in Ottawa will be tuned to football as well. I simply do not understand how the NHL can give lip service to supporting small market teams but will not even pretend to give them a level playing field.