Reports from this morning's practice indicated that the team's line combinations remain unchanged from Monday night's win against the Tampa Bay. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be particularly surprising but for most of the game, the trio of Colin Greening, Jason Spezza and Bobby Butler was pretty ineffective. So much so that when the Senators fell one goal behind early in the third period of play, their line was split up and Spezza was subsequently re-united with Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson. Shortly thereafter and in typical Alfie fashion, the captain notched his first goal since November 15th and tied the game at two; helping to cue another third period come-from-behind victory.
Even so, if today’s lines are any indication that Greening, Spezza and Butler will start tonight’s game together, it means that Nikita Filatov is destined for the pressbox yet again. In other words, if you had any desire to watch a Russian try and figure it out on the top line, Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin are going to have to suffice.
As I wrote in a piece earlier this week, it’s not like either of Colin Greening or Bobby Butler have ripped it up lately. Butler has one lonely assist in his last seven games and while Greening’s work ethic and contributions in each zone have not gone unnoticed, his offensive production has waned considerably since his name was placed amongst the NHL rookie scoring leaders at the end of October. His 3 points and -4 rating in his last 14 games just isn’t the kind of production that warrants continual playing time with Spezza.
In light of their struggles, I am somewhat surprised to see that the team isn’t using this opportunity to give Filatov a lengthy period of time to showcase what he actually is. But then of course, this feeling subsides when I remember that this team that isn’t burdened by expectations is actually winning more games than many, including myself, had predicted.
It’s almost hard to believe that we’re at a point in which Filatov has played in less than 10 games (of which, he played more than 8 minutes and 52 seconds four times) and already the threat of a KHL exodus is real.
Via a Bruce Garrioch article in the Ottawa Sun,
“It’s part of the job. I’m just trying to stay positive and keep working,” said Filatov. “There’s not much I can do about it. I just have to stick with it and keep going.”
Filatov said he knows he has to do start contributing on the scoreboard.
“I’ve felt pretty good. I think I’m playing well. I know I’m not getting points,” he said.
Filatov said he’s not “thinking about” joining CSKA Moscow but admitted there could be another conversation with GM Bryan Murray if he doesn’t get in the lineup soon.
“I’m just trying to do my job and keep working. Things are not going well, I’m not playing,” said Filatov
Coupled with news that Peter Regin’s health is progressing, if Filatov’s not playing now, I can't imagine things will get any better with another body in the mix.
All-Star Fan Balloting Results Through Week 3
The NHL has released the latest fan balloting results and Erik Karlsson still leads all NHL defenceman in votes with 351,957. Leading the next closest competitor, Dion Phaneuf, by more than 27,000 votes.
Amongst the forwards, Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson (320,100) and Jason Spezza (287,717) have slipped slightly having been overtaken by Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby (320,865). Alfredsson and Spezza rank third and fourth while Milan Michalek has the sixth highest number of votes with 261,462.
Keep in mind that if you want to contribute and vote for your favorite Senators players, you can do so by going to vote.nhl.com.
Sticking with the All-Star Game theme for a second, SensTown has photos displaying this year's alleged All-Star Game jerseys.
Here's a look:
Judging by some of the reactions that have come across our Twitter feed, some people seem to be bothered by the fact that these are retreads from last year's game that simply have new shoulder patches.
My reaction? They're All-Star jerseys. Moving on...
Other Wednesday notes...
- James Gordon has published the latest SenatorsExtra.com Prediction Panel. You can check it out by following this link.
- Apparently today is Milan Michalek's birthday. Everything is coming up Milhouse for him.
- “From our point of view, it looks like a real competitive conference. The idea of having this kind of interplay, with the Canadian teams we’re with, is going to be very exciting for the fans and it gives us exposure to the whole league, more than in the past.” ~ Senators GM Bryan Murray on the NHL realignment via the Ottawa Citizen
- According every beat reporter covering the Sens, Filip Kuba's injury has been identified as a left shoulder problem. No surgery will be required but he has been placed on the IR and will miss the next three to four weeks.
- Per Ian Mendes, Matt Carkner will be joining the Senators in New Jersey on Thursday but probably won't play. The earliest game that he could be expected to play in is Saturday's contest against Vancouver.
It's become pretty obvious that Filatov is not an NHL player right now. His decision making is just not at NHL speed and his strength on the puck is laughable. When you're competing with Bobby Butler for a spot in the lineup and you can't draw in, you are in serious trouble.
I'd like to see Regin get a shot on Spezza's wing when he comes back. Those two played very well together two years ago. If Foligno shows that he's able to handle playing centre then I think it's the best option right now.
Was there anything more certain going into the season than Kuba going on the IR for an extended period of time at some point? We all now "3-4 weeks" for him means 5-6 weeks minimum. All we can hope for now if that he comes back in the new year and plays some good games to attract attention at the deadline.
@MelnyksHangovers Anything more certain this season? Jesse Winchester, fourth line center? The Sun using its sports section as a platform for Zenon Konopka? Erik Karlsson's weak Movember effort?
@Nichols6thSens Disagree on the first and third ones. Winchester has actually gotten some shifts with good players at times, and looks like he can come somewhat close to play hockey at NHL speed now. Also, EK's stache was awesome.
The only other certainty that hasn't happened yet for some reason is Melnyk doing drunken interviews and embarrassing himself/the organization.
I personally didn't expect Kuba to be on the IR long term. I did expect him to suck though, and thankfully that didn't happen. I would like to see Filatov get more than 2 games at less than 10 min a game to try and prove himself though.