Is the Guy Boucher System Working for the Senators?
SENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators hockey written by OLMSports Dave Gross.
Feature photo Courtesy NHLI via Getty Image
This Guy Boucher system on this Guy Boucher-coached team with Guy Boucher's players does not work.
And it hasn't, pretty much all season long.
The Ottawa Senators are god-awful right now and if they don't capture some much sought-after points during their road swing through California this week, kiss the season good-bye.
We in this corner don't see an imminent turnaround . . . in other words, 'kiss the season good-bye.'
Let's be clear, Ottawa's round-up of talent – that seemed to work under Boucher last year – isn't the proper fit for the coach . . . and isn't a proper fit for the coach's determined and unsuccessful defence-first system.
Oh sure, it's great that the Nate Thompsons and Tommy Pyatts and Gabriel Dumonts of the National Hockey League world get the message and excel.
The problem is the top-end talent could not be less inclined, and clearly is completely disinterested.
Boucher's message is falling on deaf ears. That's the way in sports, after a while if the players don't like what they're hearing, they don't listen, and they don't act.
This team needs a new coach.
Management's rush to harpoon a championship ASAP by adding veterans like Derick Brassard, Matt Duchene, Alex Burrows and Thompson at the expense of younger talent and draft picks and a guy named Kyle Turris has been a dismal and miserable failure.
Head coach Guy Boucher is the wrong guy for this team, as it stands. Yeah sure, Ottawa might conjure another Hamburglar miracle and swing in to the post-season . . . but seriously though?
When you can boast explosive and creative talent like Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson and Thomas Chabot, Brassard, Duchene and Mark Stone, it's time to release the hounds.
The great Brian Kilrea always had this philosophy – let the kids play up to their talent level.
In other words, if you have a team with Corey Locke, Matt Foy and Brendan Bell . . . away you go.
Sure they'll make mistakes defensively but when you're beating teams 7-5, those wins are tasty, regardless.
That's the situation with the Senators. This is a team rife with offensive gunnery and capability.
Let it shine.
Play with speed.
Play with creativity.
Let the talent do what the talent does best.
In other words: Play to your strength.
The Ottawa Senators – tightened by the reins of a stubborn coach – are currently doing none of that.
Nothing will change, excepting that perpetual grimace from the guy standing behind the bench.
NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS: Great hearing more of Graham Creech on TSN 1200 (Ottawa sports radio). He used to work as my producer during Senator pre- and post-game shows a few years ago. You won't find a more affable guy, but more importantly, he's morphed from producer to superb on-air talent. Creech has been a discovery, and a good one – solid all-around sports knowledge/analysis coupled with a sense of humour. Good on him . . . In case you missed it – from the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons on Sunday: "If you thought you missed the Ottawa Senators’ public congratulations to new IIHF Hall of Famer, Daniel Alfredsson, you didn’t. They didn’t do one. Can you say small?" . . . And you think YOU had it bad Ottawa fan? Toronto broadcaster Jim Ralph posted this shot on Facebook prior to Saturday's face-off in Vancouver between the Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs. Let's just say, the Leafs were, um, well represented . . . Speaking of which, should the Leafs be punished for having an excess amount of 'home' games each season? If in Buffalo or any of the Canadian markets (hi there, Ottawa), the audience is crammed with fans of the blue-and-white. Yes, it was that noticeable during Toronto's road swing through the western provinces this past week . . . The rumours of the Montreal Canadiens demise have been greatly exaggerated. Two weeks ago the Habs looked more like road-kill than a hockey team. Cue the return of Carey Price and, as of Monday, Montreal's reeled off five straight wins and vaulted into a playoff spot.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Wednesday, Dec. 6: Ottawa at Anaheim (10 pm)
Thursday, Dec. 7: Ottawa at Los Angeles (10:30 pm)
Saturday, Dec. 9: Ottawa at San Jose (10 pm)