“He must probably think we’re going to put him out there offensively, with a goal and an assist,” Senators coach Paul (MacLean &) MacLean joked in reference to Lee’s performance in a 2-1 win over Boston. “I don’t think that’s his bio right now.”
Is he a shutdown defenceman?
MacLean is considering the possibility, pairing him with veteran Chris Phillips — just as Clouston did for a number of games when 2010-11 became a lost cause.
“Lefty, righty and they both play a similar type game, as far as they can play against the other team’s best players and they can play against any line,” MacLean said of his reasoning. “I think they have a comfort level together.”
Other young blueliners will also get a chance to work with Phillips, who Lee calls a “steady, calming presence.” Different folks called him other things last season, when Phillips had the NHL’s worst plus-minus, but Cheapseats is putting that stat — along with all the other negatives associated with the dismal ’10-11 campaign — right where they belong. On Brian Elliott.
Hey, shut up. Who said we were fair?
Meanwhile, Lee is doing his best to salvage a career that did get off to a rocky start when then-coach Bryan Murray and his assistants had hoped then-GM John Muckler was going to select Marc Staal with his first-round pick instead of a Minnesota highshooler. During his long and cruel stint in the press box, you wouldn’t have bet Lee would be a part of the conversation about the Senators’ 2011-12 blue line.
Now he looks like he deserves to be a member of it.
So how will they line up come Oct. 7?
Barring injuries, Phillips, Erik Karlsson, Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar will suit up in the season opener against Detroit. Matt Carkner should play more nights than not, if mainly for his toughness. And Jared Cowen and David Rundblad appear to be waging a battle for one job. Cowen leads it at this point if the fact he is the one true physical defenceman of the bunch matters, which it should.
But the Senators aren’t going to keep one of those two youngsters to make him a scratch most of the time, are they? So either they pick up a veteran to use in that role and send both Cowen and Rundblad for some seasoning, or they make one of the latter Bingo-bound and take turns sitting a different guy every night.
Lee isn’t wasting a lot of time thinking about the scenarios. His focus is on one thing.
“I just want to play,” he said.
MacLean: “We want him to be an NHL defenceman, and contribute in a lot of ways.”
That’s what Brian Lee is. A player and a contributor. Just watch.
STARTS AND STOPS
The first-period numbers on Filip Kuba weren’t good. Two defensive zone giveaways, two posts hit by appreciative Habs ... Zenon Konopka’s total of pre-season games still stands at one because he is nursing a sore back. Would it keep him out of one that counted? “It shouldn’t,” said MacLean ... The pre-season is (excruciatingly) long enough without fire alarms and broken glass panes delaying things further, as they did in the second period.
No more Mike Eastwood on the Team 1200’s pre- and post-game show means an opportunity for someone else, and right now there’s something of a lineup for a spot beside host A.J. Jakubec (or when he’s doing 67’s play-by-play, Dave Gross). Former Senators Shean Donovan and Shaun Van Allen will be used, as will ex-Hab Murray Wilson. Others being “considered” are Todd White, Patrick Lalime and Dan McGillis ... First-time father-to-be Ben McCoy has stepped it up as the station’s “Live from the locker room”reporter.
“It was nice. It’s a nice bench. I was comfortable,” MacLean said when asked about his first experience behind an NHL bench as a head coach, at Scotiabank Place, earlier in the week.
Asked if it gave him the feeling he has finally arrived, MacLean added: “I’m not sure if I’ve done that yet.”
THINGS I THINK I THUNK
The answer is Mike Hoffman and Andre Petersson. The question: Can you name two dynamic young players who should see a few shifts this season in Ottawa? ... Worried about the lack of goal-scorers on your team this season, coach MacLean? “I think goal-scoring is a premium for 30 teams in the league,” he said. “It’s a hard league to score goals in. But I also know if you’re going to have success, you’ve got to score goals. You don’t need to score two or three more than the other guys. Just one.” Some nights the Senators will be hard-pressed to even get that many ... A gimmick that has become old — passing the big Canadian flag through the crowd during the anthem ... Randomly speaking: One of the best things to happen for Canadian hockey in the off-season? The addition of former Leafs TV Andi Petrillo to CBC. This Andi is not a boy. Far from it ... Senators fans were in mid-season form, though. That is, the cheering at Scotiabank Place was louder when the Habs scored.
ONE MORE THING
You can vote for the Senators’ new goal song by visiting the team’s Facebook page. Options are five: Nickelback’s Burn It To The Ground, The Black Keys’ Howlin’ For You, The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army remix, Britney Spears’ Til The World Ends and Locksley’s The Whip. Personally, we’d like to see Lady Gaga’s You and I added to the list. Not because it would be a good goal song, but because she’s hot and the tune is awesome.
As you were ...