By only capturing two points in games against Southeast opponents like Florida, Tampa and Atlanta, Ottawa's going to be kicking themselves later in the year for giving away two combined points against Nashville and Boston last week.
Here are the highlights from the week:
With only two games scheduled later this week, Ottawa will get an opportunity to lick their wounds proverbially and literally. With the losses and injuries mounting, there's probably not a better time for this team to get a bit of a reprieve. Even though the next few days should help Jason Spezza recuperate from his lower back problems, the fact that he's only 26 years old and has dealt with this nagging problem for the past few seasons, should be cause for concern to the organization and fans alike. If anything, it could prove to be a deterrent for a future contract extension. So while Spezza's back problems will likely have ramifications in the future, the same can't be said for Anton Volchenkov's dislocated elbow.
A Dislocated Elbow Can Drive a Point Home:
As it stands, his injury is killing the Senators defence. And not necessarily because Volchenkov's strong play, physicality and shot blocking ability are sorely missed. The truth is that the problem with Ottawa's blueline is that the gap in talent between the top three defencemen -- Kuba, Phillips, Volchenkov -- and everyone else is big. Whenever one of the top three guys is forced out of the lineup, the team has a difficult time replacing those minutes without exposing the flaws in each of their other defencemen. Pascal Leclaire's return from the flu should help keep scores respectable, three to five more weeks without Volchenkov could be agonizing on the eyes and the standings.
There have been some rumblings that Bryan Murray should make a move to get a defenceman to address Volchenkov's absence. Considering the incumbents that we have, that might not be a bad idea. Personally, I'd love to see Murray target some financially strapped team looking to create some payroll flexibility like Chicago. Now obviously Brian Campbell's contract is terrible and he's out of the question. And Seabrooke is likely unattainable considering the assets that would be required to get him. And Keith is the lynchpin who they have to resign in the summer. That leaves Cam Barker as a quasi-expensive ($3.083M per year) but still young and enticing enough piece who could help Ottawa's blueline. If it's feasible to acquire someone like Barker by moving some inexpensive blueline depth. Do it.
Down on the Farm:
Congratulations to Erik Karlsson for registering his first career AHL point (an assist) on the weekend. In his first and only game on the farm, Karlsson was a -1 with 4 PIM, but he did register three shots on goal. If you want to keep future tabs on this highly touted prospect, don't hesitate to use the Binghamton statistics tab located on this site's menu.
While I was looking at Binghamton's statistics to see how Karlsson had done the other day, I couldn't help but notice how some of Ottawa's other players are performing stastically. Jesse Winchester's producing at more than a point-per-game clip. In three games, he now has 2 goals and 2 assists. As we draw closer to the conclusion of his two week conditioning stint, it will interesting to see how the organization handles his return to the big club.
Also, for those who are wondering why Cody Bass didn't stick around longer during the preseason, maybe part of the reasoning can be explained by his mindboggling minus-10 rating through ten games.
It's worth mentioning that the Cheech rang one off of the iron yesterday. (And yes, I do realize that it's sad that I even have to mention this like it's some sort of accomplishment.) Oh, and Gerald Norton's worried that if Jonathan doesn't start scoring soon, he could be riding the buses in the minors.
I Hate Czech Goalies:
First it was Hasek. Now it's Ondrej Pavelec. Enough said.
They're Calling For Lightning on Thursday:
With their two previous meetings being blowouts featuring some fisticuffs and bad blood, Thursday night's game should be another entertaining affair. Expect an evening chalk full of goals, fights and Chris Neil or Matt Carkner showboating.