Like every Monday, head coach Paul MacLean made an appearance on The Team 1200’s Healthy Scratches and addressed a variety of topics pertaining to the Senators. While much of the interview was standard fare, when asked to touch upon Nikita Filatov’s performance in Binghamton, he had this to say:
“Well that’s what we told him. ‘You need to be better. Every part of your game needs to be better than it has been.’ I thought he came into training camp and was of all the guys that we had -- the Butlers, the Zibanejads and Da Costas and all that group that was there -- he was the best guy in the first couple of days of training camp and exhibition games but he stayed there. He didn’t get better. The other guys got better day-by-day-by-day and Niki just stayed the same. We need him to get better as well and we just felt that he’d have a better opportunity in Binghamton to work at his game on a daily basis and make himself a better player. For him to go down there and work on his game without the puck and with the puck; get some confidence with the puck scoring goals and he certainly did that going down there. We give him a lot of credit and a lot of respect for that. He’s gone down there and done what we’ve asked him to do so the opportunity’s going to be there if and when we need him.”
And just like that, it’s only taken Nikita Filatov three AHL games to put up Michel Picard-like production rates and do what the organization has asked of him.
It has always struck me as somewhat odd that Filatov was sent down to Binghamton after playing in only two regular season games while the Senators organization continued to extend every opportunity for an 18 year-old Mika Zibanejad to play on one of the team’s top two lines. After listening to MacLean espouse the belief that one can only get better by playing and practicing in the NHL, I have to believe that there's more to the story of Filatov getting sent down because of his (lack of) production.
While on the subject of Zibanejad's nine game audition before the organization has to make a determination on where he's going to play the remainder of the season, MacLean had this to say:
“You’ve got to look at it from every angle that we can and that’s definitely the way that we look at it - the number of games that he can play here and practice here. You can only get better by playing in the NHL and practicing in the NHL, I believe. But also, the player has to be ready for that grind and that mental part of it that it’s all about. We have to make sure that we’re going to do the right thing for Mika. We know that Mika’s going to play in the NHL, whether it’s going to be all of this year or all of next year remains to be seen. And we’re just going to talk amongst ourselves and make a decision that’s best for Mika.
He’s big enough. He skates good enough to play in this league. The big thing is the speed of it. Is he going to able to handle the mind-speed and the speed of the puck moving? Right now, the only thing would be, if you’re not here, it’s hard to get up to speed if you’re not here. So there are a lot of factors that are good and bad. We just have to make sure that Mika’s going to comfortable if he’s going to spend the time here.”
If practicing and playing at the NHL-level are of the utmost importance for MacLean, then I'm just going to assume that it has something to do with where Filatov's head is at. That, or MacLean hates anagrams and how 'Nikita Filatov' can be arranged into 'Fail Ova Ink Tit'.
After sustaining a bruised foot by blocking a shot in Saturday night's game against the Washington Capitals, Sergei Gonchar is listed as day-to-day by the organization and isn't expected to miss any significant time. Even so, that hasn’t stopped some fans from being thrilled at the prospect of Gonchar missing a game or two.
Of course, these are probably the same jerk-offs who believe that booing veteran defencemen like Gonchar and Filip Kuba will somehow encourage them to perform better.
Even if you’re not willing to admit that the combination of old age and injuries to his knees have essentially rendered him a power play specialist, at the very least, you should still possess the wherewithal to acknowledge that he still can develop some utility as a potential trade candidate. In consequence, it only makes sense to support the guy and make life as easy possible for him in hopes that the Senators can get an asset that can help them win something tangible in the near future. In other words, the fact that people boo him or relish the thought of him being hurt for the sake of the team is just plain fucking retarded.
Not surprisingly, according to Sergei Gonchar's agent and Dany Heatley mouthpiece, JP Barry, Gonchar is “flabbergasted" and upset by the booing that he's receiving from the Ottawa Senators faithful at Scotiabank Place this season.
It’s not like Barry held a gun to Bryan Murray’s head and forced him to tack that third year onto Gonchar’s deal. Murray knew the third year was essential to lure the slick defender to Ottawa. Correspondingly, it’s not even like Gonchar was brought in after the organization changed its philosophy to a ‘rebuild’. As one of the last remnants of a last ditch effort to remain competitive and pursue one of the low playoff seeds, he’s just representative of the Senators last kick at Stanley's can before admitting defeat.
There is some blame to be passed around; I'm just not sure it's being appropriately distributed right now. Even then, if a GM with playoff aspirations was looking to augment his team using the 2010 unrestricted free agent list, with perhaps the exception of a Dan Hamhuis, an Anton Volchenkov or a Paul Martin, there’s no one within reason who could have significantly helped the Senators. (Note: All apologies to Zenono Konopka signing for the league minimum. Also, the best FAs from this class re-signed with their own respective teams.)
Just check out the list of UFAs who were available at the time. It's probably one of the worst FA classes in history.
Imagine that the Senators actually signed one of those aforementioned three defencemen to five or six year term at that money?
As a fan of a rebuilding team, you should count your blessings.