Ottawa Senators

Onus now on Sens to prove MacLean was the problem

The Ottawa Senators fired Paul MacLean because he was too hard on his players.

OK, it wasn’t just that. The losses might have had something to do with it as well.

But the “too hard on his players” narrative is the main one that’s emerged since Monday’s announcement that the 2013 Jack Adams Award winner had been let go — a message that was pushed by GM Bryan Murray, who felt that “very definitely” MacLean had become “more demanding of some of the players, and more critical of some of the players.”

While MacLean has since expressed disappointment with that notion — “Did I push them too hard? At the end of the day, that must be what they’re saying….But I think it has more to do with me not winning games than anything else,” he told — the Senators now find themselves in the position of having to prove that the coaching change was the right move.

If, on the other hand, they don’t turn things around, you can imagine what people will say. Oh, the coach was too hard on you? Boo-hoo. Seems by the way you’re playing he was right to be.

The Sens host the Los Angeles Kings tonight, then hit the road for three games in Boston, Buffalo, and New Jersey.

Forward Zack Smith is hoping the change in bench bosses, from MacLean to Dave Cameron, might “spark” the team.

“It’s unfortunate to say — and I want to word this right — sometimes coaches are hired to be fired,” Smith told the Ottawa Citizen.

“It’s a tough job. If you’re not winning, you’re not going to be there long. When a new coach comes in, everyone’s trying to prove themselves and fight for a spot, and prove to that coach that they can play or deserve to be there. I think that might have slipped a bit over the last year-and-a-half.

“It’s not to put it on him, but that’s what happened. I don’t think guys were playing to their abilities. That’s what led to the poor start we’ve had so far.”

That’s the theory.

Will the Sens prove it?

Or, will their play debunk it?

Goalie nods: Darling starts third straight for Chicago


All the latest from the blue paint…

Darling goes again

Scott Darling will make his third consecutive start tonight when Chicago takes on the B’s at TD Garden.

Darling, who has spent the majority of this season in AHL Rockford, has been tremendous when called upon — especially in his latest stint with Corey Crawford (ankle) sidelined. The 25-year-old has gone 4-1-0 with a 1.76 GAA and .939 save percentage in five games this season and emerged the victor in each of his previous two starts: a 3-1 win over Nashville (32 saves) and a 3-2 shootout win over the Devils (22 saves).

For the Bruins, Tuukka Rask will get the nod in goal.


Flames at Sabres: Karri Ramo vs. Jhonas Enroth

Devils at Flyers: Cory Schneider vs. Ray Emery

Jackets at Caps: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Braden Holtby

‘Canes at Lightning: Evgeni Nabokov for Tampa Bay, Cam Ward likely for Carolina.

Kings at Sens: Craig Anderson for Ottawa, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.

Isles at Blues: Jaroslav Halak vs. Jake Allen

Jets at Avs: Calvin Pickard for Colorado, no word yet on a Winnipeg starter.

PHT Morning Skate: (Video) Ducks reunite soldier, family live


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Anaheim Ducks arranged a great surprise for the wife of Sergeant First Class Robert Vandenberg Jr.:

While goaltender Semyon Varlamov is injured, it looks like the Avalanche plan to lean on Calvin Pickard instead of Varlamov’s understudy, Reto Berra. Berra inked a three-year contract with Colorado, but he’s struggled mightily this season. (Denver Post)

The Ottawa Senators probably won’t loan Curtis Lazar to Team Canada for the World Juniors. (Ottawa Sun)

Here are the highlights from Toronto’s 2-1 shootout win over Detroit:

Here’s a look at the life of bubble player and what it’s like to frequently bounce between the minors and NHL. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Andrew Hirsh argues that Paul MacLean wasn’t the person to blame for the Senators’ woes. (SB Nation)

San Jose has put Matt Nieto on the injured reserve list, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic is close to returning. (San Jose Mercury News)

Rangers’ Duclair to play for Canada at World Juniors


Rangers forward Anthony Duclair may not think he has “much to prove” in junior, but he’ll be suiting up for Team Canada anyway at the upcoming World Juniors in Toronto and Montreal.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported today that Duclair will be made available to the national team for the tournament that runs Dec. 26 – Jan. 5.

Duclair has played 18 games for the Rangers, scoring once with six assists. However, the 19-year-old has been a healthy scratch the last three games after registering just two assists in all of November (11 games).

The opportunity for Duclair to play a big role on a big stage, against the best junior-aged players in the world, is clearly one the Rangers feel could benefit his development. (More than practicing and sitting in the press box, at least.)

Canada’s selection camp Thursday, at which Duclair will reportedly be in attendance.

Bo Horvat (Vancouver), Curtis Lazar (Ottawa), Jonathan Drouin (Tampa Bay), and Aaron Ekblad (Florida) are other World Juniors-eligible rookies currently playing in the NHL, but all four have been playing bigger roles for their respective teams than Duclair had been lately.

Related: Dallas prepared to let Honka play at World Juniors

Neil not exactly apologetic after late punch on Dorsett


Tempers flared during Ottawa’s 4-3 OT win over Vancouver on Sunday when Chris Neil took a few late swings at Derek Dorsett during their second-period scrap, and don’t see to have cooled off any:

The fight in question:

After the game, Dorsett went off on Neil.

“I’ve talked to many guys around the league and they say [Neil’s] stupid and just proves it tonight,” he said, per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. “Guy has been playing in the league over 10 years, has well over a thousand penalty minutes and you’d think he’d have a little bit of class.

“First period he asked me to fight and I tell him no I have a bad hand. He keeps coming after me and coming after me and finally I fight him. Pretty even fight and I fall down and he gets two punches in. The refs in there and it’s just uncalled for. Then he gives it the junior move and starts waving on their fans. It’s just Chris Neil in a nutshell.”

This isn’t the first time Neil’s gotten into a war of words stemming from an on-ice issue. Last season, Neil got into a tussle with Detroit forward Johan Franzen, then fired back after Frazen accused Neil of trying to start scraps when games are essentially over.

“[Franzen] wants to drop his purse, take the lipstick out, put it on his lips and ‘Let’s go,'” Neil said. He also called Franzen “gutless.”