Five Thoughts for Friday: the Kassian Edition
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
I think Bobby Ryan needs to find himself in front of an empty net with Erik Karlsson nearby. Ryan's not playing poorly and is still generating chances, but he has just one goal in his last 10 games. Karlsson helped snap Clarke MacArthur's goalless drought, maybe he can help Bobby.
Here's what else I'm thinking:
1. So why didn't MacLean just start Kassian this week? The Senators are 13-3-8 this season with Matt Kassian in the line-up ad perhaps, somewhat surprisingly, 8-16-1 without him on the ice. Kassian usually plays the least minutes of any Senator and has just one point all season. One reason is that Kassian doesn't play on the road. Of the 24 games he's played this season, only six have been away from the Canadian Tire Centre. Which makes sense because Paul MacLean has last change at home and is able to control Kassian's match-ups better.
2. If we look deeper, is there any evidence that Kassian's presence in the lineup changes how MacLean deploys his team? Put another way, does playing Kassian force MacLean to rely his top three lines more? Because Kassian plays almost exclusively at even strength and generally takes fighting majors and not minor penalties, I have only examined even strength minutes. If you break Kassian's games down into five game groups, his ice time has fluctuated quite a bit:
- October 5 to October 19: 4:16 ES TOI/G
- November 3 to November 12: 3:26 ES TOI/G
- November 15 to December 19: 2:46 ES TOI/G
- December 21 to January 2: 5:57 ES TOI/G
- January 4 to January 16: 6:41 ES TOI/G
When Kassian was averaging less than three minutes per game between November 15 and December 19, Bobby Ryan (17:01 ES TOI/G), Kyle Turris (17:01 ES TOI/G) and Clarke MacArthur (15:27 ES TOI/G) averaged their highest even strength ice time with Kassian. That's a jump from how much the top line normally plays with Kassian in the lineup (Ryan 14:14 ES TOI/G, Turris 15:05 ES TOI/G, MacArthur 14:22 ES TOI/G). Ottawa's record in those 5 games? Two wins and three losses.
3. The Sens best stretch with Kassian in the lineup has come in his past nine games and the Sens went 6-0-3 during that spell. Kassian averaged 6:19 ES TOI/G during that span - the most so far this season. This includes 9:08 ES TOI against Colorado and 7:22 ES TOI against Minnesota. The biggest change during those nine games? Mika Zibanejad averaged 13:05 ES TOI/G during that span (during the Nov. 15 to Dec. 19 span Zibanejad averaged 9:43 ES TOI/G). In addition to the top line playing less in Kassian's last nine games, Jason Spezza has also been averaging less even strength time from Dec. 21 to Jan. 16 when compared with Kassian's average low from Nov. 15 to Dec. 19 (12:49 ES TOI/G vs. 16:04 ES TOI/G).
4. It will be interesting to see how Marc Methot's debate with Paul MacLean plays out. One of the more surprising aspects of the whole thing for me is the apparent lack of communication between Methot and MacLean. It seems like both are doing their talking through the media right now and if that's the case, it seems like a departure for MacLean. Lauded for his communication skills when he was hired by the Sens, this seems like the perfect opportunity for MacLean to flex those same muscles and resolve whatever lingering issues still exist between the two.
5. I think I like the format of NHL Revealed more than 24/7. The narration in 24/7 is sometimes over the top and it's relatively narrow focus isn't that interesting if you don't cheer for one of the two teams being profiled or if both teams are slumping during the filming (such as this year's edition). NHL Revealed has more going on. Several teams are examined within the context of multiple outdoor games and the upcoming Olympics. The audience gets a look at the two or three key narratives for each team. Teams that don't get that much coverage (the Ducks, the Isles) get some time in the spotlight. Or maybe it's just that we got to watch Matt Kassian order steak and Erik Karlsson buy cowboy boots and hat.