I was among those who touted Paul MacLean for the work he did last year in winning the Jack Adams as the NHL’s coach of the year in leading an injury-riddled roster to the playoffs and a first round win over the Montreal Canadiens.
That was last year, and this year has been a different story. Maybe my frustration is because they haven’t been as successful as I had expected (I predicted that the Senators would finish 2nd in the Atlantic Division), but there have been many instances where I haven’t agreed with the decisions MacLean has made.
First, it was the handling of the goaltenders right from the opening weekend of action, and then it was the constant and quick changing of the lineup without allowing things to gel before switching them out again.
Now, it is the lineup that is apparently being iced against the New Jersey Devils. Making Marc Methot a healthy scratch confuses me greatly. Methot is a top 2 defenseman on this team, and Cody Ceci or not, should be playing every night. Has Methot been as strong as he was last season? Probably not, but he is certainly not alone in that boat. Is Methot one of the 6 best defensemen on the team? Absolutely.
MacLean’s argument for making Methot a healthy scratch is that “you don’t change a winning lineup”. I call B.S. It was merely 38 days ago where Robin Lehner, fresh off a 3 game winning streak (the Senators’ longest of the season, and the last time they won more than 1 game in a row), where MacLean took Lehner out to put Craig Anderson in the net. MacLean’s arguement at the time was along the lines of “Craig is the number 1 goalie, and he will play”.
The Senators are 2 – 2 in the past 3 weeks without Methot in the lineup. He isn’t the difference between the Senators winning or losing, but his presence gives them a better chance to win on any given night. If he is not 100% and needs more time off, that is one thing, but both Methot and MacLean are on the record stating that he is healthy enough to play.
I, for one, am getting a little tired of MacLean’s Dr. Frankenstein philosophy. Just put the lines on the board, play your best players, and open the door. That is the only way this club is going to get out of the funk. Sitting Methot sends a bad message to the players in the locker room, and if they lose against the Devils in a game they should win, the decision will be second guessed for weeks to come. I think MacLean has been reading too much of his own press and needs to get back to the basics of what got him to where he is. He doesn’t have to prove his genius on a nightly basis by throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. More often than not, it has the opportunity to blow up in his, and the Senators’, face.