Matt Kassian was brought in to the Ottawa Senators to provide a physical deterrent after some of the Senators got pushed around at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs in particular. Since he was acquired, he has played in all 12 of the Senators’ games.
He has 4 shots on goal, scoring once. He has had 4 fights, 32 penalty minutes and has been credited with 25 hits. He has spent just over 66 total minutes on the ice, for an average of 5:30. He has not seen a single second of special teams play, not even as the “big man” net presence on a power play. Of his 4 fights, two came in the same game, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in which the team was dismantled 4-0. Ottawa is 6-6 with Kassian in the lineup.
So why does Kassian get into the lineup every day at the expense of Jim O’Brien, who has 5 goals, plays over 10 minutes per game and can also kill penalties? Is Kassian really a deterrent to opposing players who may run roughshod over the Senators? Ask Mika Zibanejad who took an elbow against the Lightning from Radko Gudas, to no avail. Ask Robin Lehner, who was run over by Dustin Byfuglien a few games ago, to no repercussions.
If you are going to avoid taking matters into your own hands in close games, and all you play are close games, then why is that player dressed?
At this point of the season, where points in the standings are more important than evening scores, surely there are better options for the Senators’ lineup than dressing a tough guy who plays 5 minutes a night on the off chance that someone on the opposing team gets out of line.
Hopefully the Senators can pull out of this slump with him in the lineup, because before you blink and they get a chance to see what it will be like without him, it might be too late.