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Started by luyp123, 2015/12/14 01:21AM
Latest post: 2015/12/14 01:21AM, Views: 327, Posts: 1
ng. Scott Cullen can be reached at and follo...
#1   2015/12/14 01:21AM
There is no doubting Ales Hemsky has been a nice addition to the Senators lineup. Over the past two games, Hemsky has assisted on six goals and found instant chemistry with Jason Spezza. For most of the season, Sens fans bemoaned the fact that Spezza was not playing with quality wingers. These last two games with Hemsky have only served to tease everyone, wondering what could have been if Hemsky was riding shotgun with Spezza all season long. But would the Senators be sitting in a playoff spot if they had acquired Hemsky a few months ago? Since Im officially banned from using the phrase "probably not" in this town, I will instead answer by saying I think its highly doubtful the Senators would be sitting in a playoff spot if Hemsky had been here since October. Ottawas big issue this season has been in their own end. And to be brutally honest, that has been their biggest problem since Paul MacLean took over as head coach a couple of years ago. To MacLeans credit, he has drastically improved the offense on this team. When they missed the playoffs in Cory Cloustons last season at the helm, Ottawa scored just 193 goals and was one of only three NHL teams who failed to crack the 200-goal barrier in 2010-11. So heading into MacLeans first season, the big question was: Who is going to score goals for the Senators? But MacLean worked his offensive magic and had terrific seasons from the likes of Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson and the team ended up scoring 249 goals and ranking in the top five in the NHL in that category. Thats a remarkable transformation; bottom five in the league in goals one year to top five the next. But Ottawas defensive game showed no real improvement in that first season under MacLean. They ranked 24th in goals against under Clouston (giving up 250 goals) and they also ranked 24th in goals against under MacLean (giving up 240 goals). In fact, no team that made the playoffs in 2012 allowed more regular season goals than the Senators. And when you give up as many goals as the Senators do, you either make the playoffs by the skin of your teeth - or miss them altogether. This trend appears to be rearing its ugly head again this season, as the Senators have no real problems scoring goals. They currently rank in the top half of the Eastern Conference in goals scored with 185 - more than playoff-bound teams like Montreal, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers. But the Senators have surrendered an astounding 213 goals this season - the second-worst total in the entire NHL. And no matter how many goals Hemsky would have added to the offensive side of the ledger, its hard to imagine how he would have helped with the defensive breakdowns that have been problematic with this team for months. A lot of people will point to the lockout-shortened season a year ago, where the Senators were the stingiest team in the Eastern Conference, sporting a 2.08 GAA. But last year needs to be taken with a grain of salt because it was only a 48-game schedule and the Senators were still giving up a ton of quality chances. Take a look at Ottawas NHL ranking in shots allowed/game since MacLean took over and you will see they didnt actually have a great defensive improvement in that department last season: Shots Allowed/Game (NHL Rank) 2011-12: 32.0/game (29th in NHL)2012-13: 31.3/game (23rd in NHL)2013-14: 34.4/game (28th in NHL) Even though the Senators were near the top of the league in GAA in 2012-13, they were still giving up too many shots and chances each night. They werent necessarily playing a tough, defensive style. Instead, they were bailed out by unbelievable goaltending that was producing numbers that were never going to be sustainable for the long-term. Craig Anderson, for example, had a .933 save percentage while short-handed last season - a number that has tumbled by more than 100 points this year. In short, the Senators brilliant goaltending masked the issues for this team last season. Now that the goaltending has been average this season, it highlights the defensive issues that have been around for the better part of three seasons. The best teams in the NHL over the past three years - like Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles - have all ranked in the top 10 in fewest shots allowed. Even a team like the Blackhawks, who have the reputation of being offensive-oriented, have allowed the fourth-fewest shots against this season. Again, MacLean deserves a ton of credit for turning this team into an offensive juggernaut. And if Hemsky re-signs next season, there is every reason to believe he can flourish in this system. But now is the time that MacLean and his staff need to fix the defensive flaws with this team. He is trying to implement a similar system he used in Detroit when they won the Stanley Cup in 2007-08. That season, the Red Wings had no trouble scoring goals, ranking third in the NHL in that department. But they also allowed the fewest shots per game at 23.5 - the best number in the entire league. The offensive comparisons to Detroit are accurate, but its the defensive game for Ottawa that still has miles to go. Bryan Murray didnt make any trades involving defensemen at the deadline because the organization believes they have the right personnel on the back end. If thats the case, its the system that needs to be adjusted moving forward. So when it comes to the re-build that started a couple of years ago, its fair to say the Senators are only halfway there. Nike Air Huarache Comprar . Manuel was offered a position the day he was fired. He accepted earlier this week and the team made the announcement Friday. . Siddikur, whose previous win on the circuit came in Brunei three years ago, finished his bogey-free round with a birdie on the 18th for a total of 17-under 199. Indias Shiv Chowrasia, who has finished runner-up in this tournament twice, was in second place after a 66. [url= . LOUIS -- Alexander Steen scored a power-play goal with 59. [url=]Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 Comprar . "I dont know that were close," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "I just think, right now, the acquisition cost just doesnt work for us right now. I dont know if I can quantify how far off or things like that that they might be but I would say we continue to have dialogue. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 . Cote was eligible to become a free agent Feb. 15. Cote helped running back Jon Cornish run for a league-high 1,813 rushing yards en route to being named the leagues most outstanding player. A lot of lesser known players are getting quality opportunities. Nathan Gerbe, Patrick Maroon, Joe Colborne, Tomas Tatar, Michael Bournival and more are covered in Scott Cullens latest blog. 1. One of the best lines in the league last season was the Carolina Hurricanes trio of Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal and Alexander Semin. This season hasnt started so well, particularly for Tlusty, who scored 23 goals and 38 points in 48 games last season, but has just two goals and three points in the first dozen games this season. Tlusty has been bumped from that line in favour of Nathan Gerbe, the mighty mite winger who is one of the best stories of this young NHL season. After scoring 29 goals and 72 points in 188 games with the Buffalo Sabres, Gerbe had a two-way deal with the Hurricanes and earned a spot with the NHL club in camp. Not only did he secure a regular spot in the lineup, but hes played a significant role, a career-high 18:37 per game, while scoring four goals and seven points in a dozen games. More impressively, Gerbe has generated 3.42 shots on goal per game, the same as San Joses Logan Couture, and an indication that Gerbes offensive contributions arent merely a matter of good fortune. In fact, with an on-ice shooting percentage of 3.4%, its easy to argue that Gerbe has been relatively unlucky offensively and should have a few more points given the chances created. Theres nothing to say that Gerbe wont get pulled from the Staal-Semin pairing, but the former Boston College star is getting an opportunity, and ice time, unlike anything he has received in the NHL. 2. Injuries (Dustin Penner, Saku Koivu, Jakob Silfverberg, Matt Beleskey) continue to thin out the lines for the Anaheim Ducks, but they have also provided an opportunity for Patrick Maroon to skate with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the Ducks top line. Maroon is a 25-year-old power forward who has had some minor league success, scoring 118 AHL goals in five-plus seasons, but had just three points in 15 NHL games coming into the season. Hes held his own in the possession game and is taking to his new surroundings well, putting up four points and a plus-6 rating in the last five games. Given his limited track record, its early to buy-in on Maroon totally, but hes getting an opportunity and if he makes the most of it, he could earn a regular spot in the lineup. 3. It seems like forever ago that Flames C Joe Colborne was drafted 16th overall by the Boston Bruins and, in some ways, the last five years might feel like an eternity to Colborne, who has been traded twice and is just getting a chance to play a regular role in the NHL after scoring 125 points in 211 AHL games. Colborne had six points in 16 games over the last three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but when training camp neared an end and the Leafs didnt want to risk sending Colborne down to the AHL, knowing that he would likely be claimed on waivers, they got what they could in trade, a conditional fourth-round pick from the Flames. With former Leafs GM Brian Burke now the President in Calgary, its not a surprise that Colborne is getting a chance to play. At the same time, its not like he was giften an opportunity, playing under nine minutes in four of his first five games with the Flames. The ice time has picked up a bit, as has Colbornes production (1 G, 1 A, plus-4 in last 3 GP). He played a season-high 15:18 against Washington Saturday, skating on a line with LW T.J. Galiardi and RW Mike Cammalleri. It may not last or Colborne may just be the guy who has nine points in 26 career NHL games. 4. After starting the year on the Stars number one line, and then moving down the depth chart, Erik Cole has rejoined Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. It worked in Buffalo, which might not be the best measuring stick, as Cole has two assists and played a season-high 20:17. If Cole is going to maintain such a spot on the depth chart, though, he has to generate more shots on goal. Right now, hes averaging 1.64 shots per game, which is ever-so-slightly better than the 1.61 per game he had in Dallas last season after he was acquired from Montreal. When he scored 35 goals for Montreal, in 2011-2012, Cole averaged 2.94 shots on goal per game, so thats a rather precipitous drop in a short amount of time for the soon-to-be 35-year-old winger. Interestingly, Cole replaced Rich Peverley on the No. 1 line, but Peverley has better possession numbers, with a lower percentage of offensive zone starts than Cole this season. If neither Cole nor Peverley can settle into the role, there may eventually be an opportunity for rookie Valeri Nichushkin, who has been playing more (16:18 ATOI in last three games) recently. 5. While Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has bemoaned his clubs lack of offensive production, Ive taken up the cause of rookie C Brandon Pirri, who had three points in his first three games of the season, despite playing fewer than 10 minutes in each of them. Pirri had two points in seven NHL games over the last three seasons while he primarily plied his trade in the AHL, developing to the point that he put up 75 points in 76 games last season. Pirri got more of an opportunity Tuesday, centering Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane, picking up a pair of assists in a 5-1 Blackhawks win. While it was a positive step, there are still reasons to have modest expectations for Pirri. One, he likely wouldnt have even had that opportunity if not for an injury to veteran C Michal Handzus, who has played a lot of second-line centre for the Blackhawks since he was picked up from San Jose for a fourth-round pick last season. The other concern is that Pirri is at the bottom end of the possession metrics for Blackhawks forwards. Hes not far behind Handzus, but Pirri needs to improve his all-around play (or simply benefit from injury) if hes going to get an extended look in the role that seems totally suited to his skills. 6. Detroit has been forced to juggle their lines, trying to elicit offensive production from those not named Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk or Daniel Alfredsson. One of the beneficiaries has been winger Tomas Tatar, who joined a line with Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. While Tatar doesnt have any points in four games this season. The 22-year-old hasnt been sent to the AHL because he requires waivers and would never clear after he scored 39 goals and 70 points in 85 (regular season plus playoff) games last season. Tatar played a career-high 15:11 for the Wings against the Rangers Saturday, more than he had played in his previous 30 NHL games, and hes been solid enough in his limited playing time this year. Theres offensive upside with Tatar, but hell have to get some consistent playing time before its fair to place expectations on him. By splitting up Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings left Datsyuk to play with Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzzi.dddddddddddd. With those forwards comprising the top two lines, the obvious player to fall out is Stephen Weiss, a free agent signing in the summer who has been having a really hard time in his first dozen games with the Wings, scoring two goals and posting a minus-5 rating. 7. There seems to be some dissatisfaction with the play of Kings LW Dustin Brown, who has two goals and five points in a dozen games, and hes recently been replaced on the top line by LW Dwight King. A 6-foot-4 winger who has four goals on the season, after a hat trick against Phoenix last Thursday, is getting a chance to play with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, two players that are both consistent in their offensive production, but also in their domination of puck possession. King doesnt figure to have the skill to keep pace with them on a long-term basis, but its an interesting opportunity for as long as he gets to play with the big boys. 8. Injuries have hit the Montreal Canadiens forward lines hard, but it has opened up an opportunity for rookie winger Michael Bournival, who has been spending recent games skating with veteran C Tomas Plekanec and RW Brian Gionta. Bournival hasnt looked out place in the least, putting up strong possession numbers along with two goals and six points, with a plus-4 rating, in nine games. Once Max Pacioretty, Danny Briere, Brandon Prust and others make their way back to the Canadiens lineup, Bournival may not be in such a prime spot, but as long as he remains productive, hes going to make it more difficult to send him back to the American Hockey League. 9. There hasnt been a ton of stability on the Minnesota Wild top line, with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu going through Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter before their latest right winger, rookie Justin Fontaine. A 25-year-old who played collegiately at Minnesota-Duluth, Fontaine wassnt drafted, but had 152 points in 124 games over his last three college seasons, and had 111 points in 137 AHL games in his first two pro seasons. Fontaine has three goals and a plus-5 rating in 13 games this year, but two of those goals have come in the last four games and hes also played more than 16 minutes in two of the last four games (hes played under 14 in the other 11). Like others on this list, Fontaine is not necessarily positioned to stick in his current role, but its worth seeing what he can do with the chance hes being given. 10. Goals havent been easy to come by in New Jersey and perhaps that shouldnt come as a shock considering that Ilya Koalchuk bolted to the KHL in the offseason and their top two centres coming into the year, Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique, had combined for 36 points in 90 games last season. Henrique and Zajac both have one goal and four points through 11 games this season, so there is an opportunity for Andrei Loktionov, a player who has shown some skill, with 97 points in 135 AHL games, but hasnt yet been able to make a mark in the NHL. Last years 12 points in 28 games with the Devils represents a career-high. Though he only has three points in 10 games this year, Loktionov is getting a shot with veteran Czech wingers Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr. If 23-year-old Loktionov is going to prove that hes capable of putting up points in the NHL, those are wingers that should help find his offensive mojo. 11. While the hype was mostly on Vincent Lecavalier when he scored a hat trick while playing right wing with Claude Giroux against the Islanders, its notable that their left winger was rookie Michael Raffl, the 24-year-old who is making a big jump from the Swedish Allsvenskan (below Elite League) to the NHL. Raffl got his first NHL point, while playing 9:18, his lowest ice time in five NHL games. While his puck possessions stats are solid enough in limited ice time, its hard to imagine that Raffl is the best option long-term on that line, what with the likes of Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds toiling as the third line (Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek as second line) wings. 12. While this isnt quite the same line combination as some of the others that Ive referenced, its worth noting that Capitals C Mikhail Grabovski has fared just fine since he was demoted to the third line. The Capitals finally moved Martin Erat out of a fourth-line role and Erat responded with three assists in his first game on the second line with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer. Since then? No points, minus-5 and three shots on goal in four games. Grabovski, on the other hand, has four points (2 G, 2 A) and is plus-3 in the last four games. Grabovskis goals have come on the power play, but has been productive enough with linemates Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. FIRST NHL GAMES Michael Chaput, C, Columbus - Acquired from Philadelphia in the Tom Sestito trade, Chaput played a modest 7:48 against Anaheim, skating on a line with Ryan Craig and Jared Boll. Thats not going to provide much opportunity, but teh 21-year-old has 36 points in 79 AHL games and could probably use more time to develop before getting a real shot to stick. Kevin Connauton, D, Dallas - Picked up from Vancouver in the Derek Roy deal last season, Connauton has played three full seasons in the AHL and has to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL, so hes been biding his time in Big D and played 16:05 at Calgary, playing mostly with veteran Sergei Gonchar. Jayson Megna, RW, Pittsburgh - A 23-year-old winger who was signed as a free agent in 2012 out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Megna had 12 points in 56 AHL games as a rookie pro, but started this year better, putting up five points in six games before getting recalled due to injuries taking James Neal, Beau Bennett and Chuck Kobasew out of the Penguins lineup. Megna had a goal and an assist in his second game and has a chance to stick around with all those players out of the lineup. Darren Archibald, LW, Vancouver - A physical 23-year-old winger, Archibald wasnt drafted and worked his way up through the ECHL to the AHL, where he had 22 points in 55 games last season. Hes not playing much, but Archibald and Jeremy Welsh are giving the Canucks some size on the fourth line. CHIRPING "The seasons going on." - Kings coach Darryl Sutter, after Kings LW Dustin Brown responded to a question about his low hit totals by saying that he gets more physical as the season goes on. "You can be a fun team, but if youre going to just go out there and give away chances and give away four or five goals a night, then you might be entertaining but you wont be winning," - Coyotes coach Dave Tippett isnt thrilled with the way his team is winning. Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys ' ' '

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