A New Beast of the East?

The Senators dove into a transition period by refreshing its personnel, from its general manager Pierre Dorion and the employment of a new head and associate coach. The Ottawa Senators grabbed two slices of Swiss cheese this week in recruiting former Swiss National League coaches Marc Crawford and Guy Boucher.

On May 18, Guy Boucher was named the head coach of the Senators. After Eugene Melnyk missed out on the Bruce Boudreau sweepstakes by just a million dollars, Guy Boucher was next in line. Boucher was also rumoured to be the top choice for the Toronto Maple Leafs before they gave bags of cash to Mike Babcock.

Associate coach Marc Crawford has won one Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. He has coached the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, and the Dallas Stars, before coaching Zürcher Schlittschuh Club (ZSC) Lions. Crawford won’t likely be with his superstar center Auston Matthews, who he coached in Switzerland. Instead, he’ll probably be in charge of shutting him down for the Battle of Ontario.

Guy Boucher has had a short coaching stint in the National Hockey League. He was the bench boss of the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning team, which lost in the conference finals to the eventual 2010-11 Stanley Cup championed Boston Bruins. Boucher was involved coaching a young, maturing Steven Stamkos. The Lightning did not clinch a playoff spot in the following two seasons, which led to Boucher’s subsequent firing. Boucher will now be tasked to bring a defensive focus to an offensive-minded team.

A defensive-minded coach in Guy Boucher should be able to bring a better rounded game to his offensive-minded star in Erik Karlsson. Despite his offensive wizardry, Karlsson has been noted for being lost in his defensive play. Erik Karlsson should be compared to Alexander Ovechkin in their offensive abilities. Before Barry Trotz was hired as head coach of the Washington Capitals, Ovechkin was hammered by many for his lack of defence. Now with Trotz at the helm, Ovechkin now demonstrates his offensive abilities and is praised for his defensive awareness. With a new coach in Guy Boucher, will Erik Karlsson be capable to transition with a better defensive game?

The Ottawa Senators have a better than average defensive core. On the left side is Marc Methot, Dion Phaneuf, and Chris Phillips, as well as Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci, and Chris Wideman on the right. It’s not that the Sens have the wrong players playing the back end, but the fact that the team had a poor defensive structure in front of their goaltender Craig Anderson.

The bigger concerns surrounding the Sens’ offence concentrate on the health of Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur; two of the team’s most prolific scorers. Turris and MacArthur can bolster the offensive production if both are healthy and play consistently. Bobby Ryan needs to find his game, whether he’s on the first or second line. Mike Hoffman needs consistent ice time, and hopefully Alex Chiasson will be the projected solid winger who was acquired in the Jason Spezza trade.

The Ottawa Senators made a number of great strides to lead their team in the right direction as their core players progress through the prime of their careers. Erik Karlsson can take leaps with refining his defensive game, while Bobby Ryan can show that he is still an offensive beast. Hopefully the team can be a new beast of the east.

Image from https://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/sports/hockey/2016/05/09/ottawa-senators-say-guy-boucher-was-first-choice-for-vacant-coaching-position/sens.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086×682.jpg


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