Week 5 of the SensNation Hotstove. Follow the panel on Twitter: @DefenseMinister, @Fffeisty, @IneffectiveMath, and @PanofSCU subbing in for @Senturion. Be sure to chime in with your answers and feedback below in the comment section and on Twitter. Enjoy!!
Q1: How would you assess Cody Ceci’s season to date?
@DefenseMinister: I think he’s been ok and I’m willing to give him a fair amount of slack because he’s a 21-year old playing in an NHL Top 4 role. Because of his development stage, his performance is going to be heavily influenced by whoever he plays with which is why he’s struggled mightily with Cowen and been much more stable with a better defenseman like Wiercioch. I don’t really have any complaints.
@Fffeisty: For a sophomore, he has done fine. I feel earlier in the year he suffered greatly due to his pairings. For such a young player early in his development, it was a shame and a bit alarming that the Sens were putting him in a position to not succeed. Initially the thought from Paul MacLean was to put him with Phillips, to give him some veteran cover. Thank god that didn’t continue. It could have been disastrous long-term. Dave Cameron, the “miracle worker”, has put him with Weircoch and lo and behold, they look like a credible NHL pair. Do they sometimes still struggle in their own end? Yes, but that is more a function of them being inexperienced. They are perhaps better suited to being a 3rd pairing long-term but our current D situation doesn’t allow it, so I am willing to live with the mistakes because at least they are developing and showing signs of progress.
@IneffectiveMath: I’ve been reasonably pleased, all things considered. He pairs well with Wiercioch, who should be his long-term partner. He’s badly hampered (unusually so) by bad pairings, though, so I would keep him off the 3rd pair.
@PanofSCU: For a 21 year old, he has been extremely strong. Defence on the Ottawa Senators, although high in quantity, has not been quality and he has done a great job to solidify the 4 spot for this team. Using the excuse that Garrioch had against Phillips having the the disadvantage of being paired with Karlsson at the start of the year, Ceci has managed to stay afloat with whatever Jared Cowen is. Very rarely is Ceci out of position and he has done a good job of clearing the lanes and shows a lot of hockey smarts. I would like to see a higher amount of points with him, but that may come if paired with a stronger defensive D man that can get him the puck – enter my hopes of Zbynek Michalek in the offseason.
Q2: Favourite all time Sens moment (excluding Alfie’s OT winner to go to the SCF)?
@IneffectiveMath: I’m not an especially sentimental fan and I have a bad memory so I don’t have a long list of best moments, but I would pick naming Karlsson as captain.
@PanofSCU: Going back, it would be Ron Tugnutt’s reaction and the team rushing over to him after they clinched their first ever playoff berth. The turnaround on the organization all happened at that time and it was something special. I just wished that he had a better trapper. If things work out this season, it will feel almost the same, but you can never beat your first time.
(a) You never forget your first and this was the Sens first ever playoff series win. Listen for the moment when Arvedson pokes it over to Van Allen who skates out of the zone. That moment right there is the absolute loudest it has ever been in our building. I jumped in my seat and my knee came down hard on the seat in front of me. My knee has never been the same since but it was totally worth it.
(b) Like I said, you never forget your first and this was the Sens first ever trip to the playoffs. That game I was sitting next to a guy who brought his elderly father who arrived with his own portable oxygen tank. Pretty sure we were all taking hits from his oxygen mask in the 3rd period. It was such a great feeling to score that goal. It was our first moment of absolute joy. Sigh. We were so young, innocent and free of heartache.
@DefenseMinister: I’ve been around since Day 1 so the Steve Duchesne goal on Hasek on the last game of the 97 season to send the Sens to playoffs for the first time has always been special. But the line brawl vs the Habs I believe has eclipsed that for me because it was the first time Sens fans (especially those of us who were at the game) have had the chance to thoroughly own a rival. Sens have been on the other end of this so much historically with the Leafs that this just felt so cathartic as the exclamation point on a series where the Sens made the Habs their bitch.
Q3: Don Brennan or Bruce Garrioch?
@Fffeisty: Speaking of the Duchesne goal, a few night’s after that game, I was bartending at the pub where I used to work at the time, lamenting the fact that although I had tickets for the Sens first ever home playoff game, I didn’t know if I could go because I had an exam at the exact same time as puck drop. It was literally the “biggest game in Sens history” up to that point and my exam was for a 2nd year children’s literature course, the absolute definition of a bird course. Bruce Garrioch came in to the pub with a few of the other reporters covering the series. I was telling them about my dilemma and Bruce told me to go to the exam, write as fast as I could, then get the hell out of there and book it to the game. He even wrote a note for me to give to the prof to excuse me from the exam. I of course, totally took his advice. I wrote the exam in 30 minutes and tore out of there. I was in my seat before the end of the 1st period. The Sens ended up losing that game and I ended up failing that exam but to this day, that is the most I have ever missed of any Sens playoff games. I have been to every single other one, from beginning to end. Bruce wins.
@DefenseMinister: You could have put put Vladimir Putin up there against Don Brennan and I’d have gone with the Russian option.
@IneffectiveMath: Don’t think I can tell them apart.
Q4: Rank the Sens D after Karlsson and Methot
@PanofSCU: Ceci, Wiercioch, Boro, Gryba, Cowen. Phillips.
@DefenseMinister: Right now, Ceci, Wiercioch, Gryba, Cowen, Boro, Phillips but there’s really hardly anything separating the group after Ceci-Wiercioch.
@IneffectiveMath: I rank Wiercioch above Methot, but then after that I like Cowen, Gryba, and Borowiecki. I rank the bottom three in this order because I think Cowen has some trade value and because Gryba doesn’t fight. Ideally all three will be replaced.
@Fffeisty: EK, Methot, Ceci (he gets a bump for youth and potential), Weircoch, Gryba, Boro, Erik Condra, Wideman and Claessan. Don’t tell me I forgot one. I assure you, I didn’t forget.
Q5: Would you trade Cowen for a low pick or pucks? If not, what would it take?
@Fffeisty: Next time I’ll tell you guys about the time I served Bobby Clarke 9 double vodkas and the next morning he traded with the Sens for Alex Daigle (100% true story). We can trade Cowen for actual live bodies, we really can. But it might take a lot of vodka.
@DefenseMinister: I’m more concerned with the payroll commitments in place over the next couple years so anything that gets Cowen salary off the books is probably acceptable to me at this point (which is different than I felt a year ago). I do think that if they chose to move him, they’d get value back that might surprise some Sens fans. Can’t teach “big” y’all.
@IneffectiveMath: I would trade Cowen for any defender I thought was as good but had a more affordable contract. It shouldn’t be terribly tricky; probably half of the league’s third pairing guys fit the bill.
@PanofSCU: I wouldn’t just abandon him. He does have upside potential, but it may be a lot more limiting than what the expectations were when he was drafted. There have been excuses that he’s still recovering from injury, but it’s been 2 years now. If it’s the injury, he’s not recovering – he’s just broken. That said, should we dump him? I don’t think that what you would get for him would be better than what you can get out of Cowen. I can see him in a package with a goaltender for a top winger, but that will bring up the price of the money coming back, or age of the player in return or the Sens retaining salary. Overall, I think the team is stuck with him, and the key is to use him in the right situations, which in the way that he’s played, is sparingly.