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Here's the thing: I know everyone was in full-on goober-mode after the Sens' "character win" vs. Buffalo on Saturday. Yes, very good -- Ottawa was able to pull off a shootout victory after almost blowing it in the third. Miracles can happen, and dogs can live with cats (as Miss Sherry pointed out in an OBC post-game e-mail).

Wins should make the fans happy, right? Nothing else matters? Uh, no -- not on this blog. Not when all I wanted to do was tear Brian Lee's emaciated limbs off (now there's a visual).

I get it -- he's still quite young (he'll be 22 next month). I understand that he's only played in 33 regular season games. I acknowledge that defencemen take longer to mature, and I know the hammer can be brought down only so hard, OK?

But I'm still bringing it.

Defenders of Lee might want to remember that he played in all four of the Sens' post-season games last year. You'd think such an opportunity would make a kid quite nervous. However, it also would have forced him to work through his fears, and perhaps, calm down a bit.

It sure as hell didn't appear that way on Saturday. If you're looking for a prime example, check out the Sabres' first goal. Lee skated behind the net with the puck, and was obviously waiting to make the breakout. When Tim Connolly dared to skate in and forecheck (gasp), Lee freaked out and in his feeble attempt to dodge a hit, he expectorated the puck right into Buffalo's lap.

(Aside: Should someone have come in to help him as soon as Connolly made his approach? No doubt, but we've been dealing with that problem all year. That still doesn't justify Lee putting the priority on not being jostled as opposed to protecting the puck. Could you imagine him on the streets of Mumbai? Would he just stand there and scream in the manner of Ned Flanders or similar? That's the way I picture it, but I don't know if he can hit such a high pitch. Someone snap the little darling with a wet towel and get back to me.)

The "don't touch me" attitude reared its ugly head again late in the third, when Lee sensed an opponent lining him up along the boards as he was skating up ice. So what did 55 do? He got rid of the puck by dumping it in -- except he did it prior to hitting the red line. Pointless icing when the game is tied? Not hot, Babyface.

Since drafting him in 2005, the Ottawa Senators have all but admitted that Brian Lee was meant to pick up where Wade Redden left off. Are you buying what they're selling right now? This panic-stricken kid who shuns all body contact* is supposed to be the next franchise offensive defenceman? Who's been grooming him?

Oh, that's right -- Cory Clouston. Should he have a go at Erik Karlsson next?

Go ahead and chew on that. More later.


*Yeah, I know. In some ways, he's a Senator already, isn't he?

4 responses to "Monday morning Chewable"

  1. No one is ever going to mistake Lee for Volchenkov in the physical department. One issue that I can see is size, or lack thereof. Lee is listed at 202, but if that kid weighs any more than 180-185 I would be shocked. "Willowy" would be the best way to describe his build right now. He needs to find the weight room and the buffet table, pronto.

    Still, though, Lee is showing some signs of progress, and may well become a regular top four NHL defenceman. That's not bad when you consider the players drafted behind him in the first round. Sure, you can make a case that the Senators should have drafted Staal or Kopitar, but after that the '05 first round is looking pretty barren of bonafide NHLers, save for Cogliano. It's actually a pretty ugly list when you take a look at it.

    Dennis Prouse

  2. "Still, though, Lee is showing some signs of progress"

    Any examples? Here's what I wrote about him on October 20th -- sound familiar?

    "Still think there's nothing to the idea that the majority of young defencemen require additional grooming and polish in the minors? Perhaps you haven't noticed Brian Lee lately. Lee impressed in the pre-season, but has appeared panic-stricken on multiple occasions since the regular season began. His teammates have already begun to pick up on this, as it's become obvious (particularly during the last two games) that they were avoiding him during play, choosing instead to pass off to someone else. The Sens wanted Lee to be their finesse blueliner of the future -- calm nerves are a prerequisite for that position. Don't get me wrong: I understand the hesitancy that comes with youth. But don't forget that Lee played in four playoff games with the team last year. He's already seen far more stressful situations than the current one."

    Lee was sent back to Bingo -- and Clouston -- two days later.

    I'm not trying to put this all on him. As I pointed out in the post, he's still very young. However, I find it curious that after experiencing such events as the post-season and day-to-day adversity in the NHL, his game has yet to progress. He still looks like the same scared kid I used to shake my head at during the WJC's. The thing is, I was warned about Clouston's shortcomings when it came to prospects and their maturation. This was long before his name was ever mentioned in this town. It's interesting to see where Lee's game is at right now, and to note that the man who's been in charge of him at an AHL level is now the coach of the Senators. So, what's the deal here? Did Clouston stunt his growth, or is Lee not capable of what the Sens need (or is it a combination of both)?

    P.S.: "Willowy" is a great way to put it. If he's put on a pound since the draft, I'd be shocked.

    The Universal Cynic

  3. I think it may be systemic. The worst offender has always been Spezza (with a heaping helping of good riddance Corvo).

    Picard and Kuba came in and have been equally scared of taking a hit to make a play. (Kuba the worst of the two based on the size:utilization of size ratio)

    They have improved marginally, but it not something that one likes to see out of their D-men.

    Perhaps young Lee sees Spezza, Kuba, and Picard rushing passes to avoid contact and figures, like the Cranberries album, If Everybody Else . . .

    Say what you will about Redden's fall-from-grace, at least he always took the hit to make the play.


  4. This might come down to expectations. I am not expecting him to be a top two defenceman, but rather just a serviceable NHL regular. I have been at two games recently - Carolina and Boston -- and save for one ugly giveaway in the Boston game he looked pretty good to me in both. Let's put it this way - Lee can make a far better first pass out of the zone than can Jason Smith, who handles the puck like it is a manhole cover. Physically, he might just be one of those guys who mature late. I have seen a lot of young guys who really didn't fill out and get stronger until they were 23 or 24.

    On a broader note, don't the heights and weights listed for these guys just kill you? Chris Phillips is listed at 6'3", 217 -- there is not a chance he is anywhere near that big. Everyone else pumps up heights and weights, though, so if you don't do it you look tiny on paper. This reminds me of the NFL Combine, where they find that guys shrink two inches and lose 20 pounds off their listed size on the flight from their college town to the combine.

    Dennis Prouse