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You find anyone willing to admit they’re a Senators fan these days. We were pointed to this person on Twitter, who confiscated our phones and made us where a shrouded hood while he drove in circles. We felt just like Pierre Dorion. Anyway, here’s what you need to know from the inside. 

We don’t want to be insulting, we know it’s been a rough summer for Senators fans, but…why are you even bothering this season?

 I guess at the end of the day it’s just entertainment. I’m still really looking forward to watching Mark Stone, who is one of my all-time favourite players. With Brassard gone and Pageau out for the year he won’t have good line mates, but that has never stopped him from producing or playing great defensively. I’m not sure if he’ll be a Senator after the deadline, but regardless he’ll be fun to watch.
Thomas Chabot on the top pair with Chris Wideman is also going to be great to watch. While Chabot was pretty bad defensively in his rookie season, he’s such a skilled player and has the potential to be a number #1 defenseman. I also think Wideman will surprise a lot of people. He was injured all last season, but in his 3rd pairing minutes the year before he was amazing. Size has always been an issue for him but he’s a good puck mover and does a great job of getting the puck to the net from the point.

Why should Pierre Dorion be trusted with the rebuild that is coming for the Senators? And if he’s not (he’s not) is there any hope that the higher-ups know it?

While so many of his trades have been brutal, Dorion’s biggest strength is his drafting ability. As a GM he’s managed to pluck some great prospects outside of the 1st round like Formenton (47th overall, 2017), Batherson (121st overall, 2017), and the Dahlen he traded for Burrows (42th overall, 2016). While the Sens don’t really have a young guy with star potential outside of Chabot, they have a surplus of players who look like a safe bet to develop into top six forwards/top 4 defensemen.
I honestly don’t see him getting fired any time soon. I think Eugene Melnyk really likes him, and they seem to have a strong relationship. What they need to focus on now is building up the front office. With no assistant general managers, Dorion was running the team alone all summer. They hired a lot of scouts over the past month, brought in a new assistant GM, and are still looking for another one. Scouting and development are so important during a rebuild, so I think providing more resources to both Dorion and their prospects will have a bigger return on investment than any free agent signing they could possibly make.

Is it really advisable to have Brady Tkachuk spend the season in Ottawa?

I think it is. He isn’t eligible for the AHL so the Sens would have to send him back to the OHL. I don’t think he would progress much in his development there because it wouldn’t be challenging enough. As an 18 year-old he was 4th in points and 1st in shots on his Division 1 NCAA team, so playing in the OHL as a 192 pound 19 year-old against teeenagers would be nothing for him. Since he’s already so physically mature and defensively responsible I think the NHL would be the best option for him.

Is the only endgame here somehow getting Eugene Melnyk to sell the team? Is that in any way feasible?

The Sens just completed a $135M refinancing over the summer, so I don’t think there will be a sale this season. With something like 4,000 season ticket holders, an angry fanbase, zero optimism surrounding the team and a downtown arena still years away (the Sens play 25km from downtown) I really don’t see things getting better anytime soon.
Having a low payroll will make it hard for them to be anything better than a bubble team, but it’s not insurmountable. The Sens have a lot of good prospects coming through the pipeline, so taking advantage of their cheap ELCs and first RFA contracts will be key over the next few years. But they absolutely need to find a way to move Bobby Ryan’s contract and have to trade Ceci at the deadline.

 

 

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 vs. 

RECORDS: Hawks 20-15-6   Senators  14-17-9

PUCK DROP: 6:30

TV: NBCSN Chicago

BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT: Brian 5or6

Well this seems like a momentous day for really weird reasons. We’ll get to that in a second. After getting to recalibrate their weapons by firing on the stationary target that is the Edmonton Oilers, the Hawks can double that up by doing so against the Eastern Conference version, the Ottawa Senators. And they may get to do it against a severely hampered Senators team, and believe me when I tell you this team didn’t have a lot to hamp. With the 2nd half of the season kicking off tonight, this would be a good way to get it started the right way. Then again, the Hawks couldn’t have started the first half off any better (TEN! TEN! TEN!), and look where that got them.

No reason to not start off with the biggest piece of news, and that is Brent Seabrook will be a healthy scratch tonight for the first time…well, ever. I don’t recall this happening in his rookie year, though it might have and we’ve just blocked most of that season from our memories. In fact, Seabrook has been something of a rock of durability, missing only 11 games in the ensuing 11 years since. But you can’t say that Seabrook hasn’t earned this, and the Hawks pairings would make a lot more sense if they looked something like:

Keith-Murphy

Forsling-Kempny

Oesterle-Rutta

Of course, that’s not what they’ll look like tonight as Oesterle will stay with Keith, the two kids together, and Kempny and Murphy returning to their natural sides on the second pairing. This way Q doesn’t have to rearrange three pairings. While Murphy took the blame for Friday’s loss unfairly, Seabrook has been this all season and now can’t even get the space to do the things he does well, i.e. shoot and pass. He’s been either slow or uncaring or both down low in his own zone, and that’s just not good enough. At the moment, he’s not one of the best six d-men the Hawks can send out there.

The hope is that this shows Seabrook that he’s not untouchable and has no guarantees. At almost 33, he’s never going to be what he was but he can certainly be more than he is. At that age he really should be able to handle third pairing or even sheltered second pairing minutes ok, and he hasn’t done that all season without Connor Murphy (CONNOR MURPHY!) saving his ass. Seabrook will draw back in soon, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, and there better be a fire under his ass when he does.

As for the rest of the lineup it looks like Tomas Jurco will be the forward scratched as the suddenly spiky Patrick Sharp sticks around.

None of this should matter of course, because the Senators are the NHL’s little league right fielder with the glove on his head twirling in a cirlce. They’re second-bottom in the East and three points adrift of the team above them, the Canadiens. And while this isn’t much of a roster outside Karlsson, it’s not helped by SUPER GENIUS Guy Boucher running a system suited for 1999 and boring the shit out of everyone involved. And the system doesn’t work when it’s not getting lights-out goaltending, and Craig Anderson is 36. This a team that doesn’t really have a top-liner anywhere unless you count Matt Duchene, and he’s basically a top line wing playing center and a really good rhythm guitarist at center instead of a lead.

Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman are great second line scoring wingers too, but now that Bobby Ryan is turning colors in the sun they need them to be first line scorers and that’s just not who they are. Karlsson can only do so much.

Making it even better for the Hawks tonight is that several Sens are either sick or hurt and gametime decisions. Duchene (you’re holdin’ up the show!), Oduya, Ceci, Brassard all might not make the bell tonight, though all could play as well. This is not a juggernaut. This team is bottom 10 in goals per game, goals against per game, and shot for per game. They do limit shots against them ok thanks to Boucher’s strangulation of anything interesting that might happen, but Anderson just hasn’t been up to the challenge of stopping the ones they do see. Again, 36.

No excuses here. The Hawks have to get this one, and they really have to sweep the week before the bye hits and teams pass or get farther away from them simply because they’re not playing. They’ve missed enough hanging curves of late with losses to Vancouver, blowing a lead against  Vegas when they had played the night before, and arguably missing the first 30 minutes against a wonky Calgary team. No more bullshit.

 

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Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Bro Hymn: Anaheim Calling, Battle of California

With a stretch of 10 of 12 games on the road to start the abbreviated season, including the last six, the Blackhawks finally return to Club 1901, this time in slightly more permanent fashion. With the next seven tilts on United Center ice, this has been the targeted time for the Hawks to make their hay since the schedule was released, assuming they survived the first quarter of the season. And at the risk of overstatement, it’s pretty fair to say they survived it just fine.