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Senators Coach D.J. Smith Struggling to Balance Young vs. Veteran Roster

D.J. Smith will put Colin White back in the lineup but the coach should call on the young players more often for the Senators.

Despite the fact that most insiders pegged the Ottawa Senators to finish last in the North Division, others believed the team could be better than some gave the team credit for. A good balance of young prospects and skilled stars with the right mix of veteran experience and leadership could produce decent results and make the team more competitive.

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So far, this season hasn’t shown itself to be very kind to the Senators and the club hasn’t been that competitive at all.

Winless in their last five games, the Sens now sit at the bottom of the Scotia North Division with a 1-4-1 record and with just three points after six games. They’ll take on the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday evening and if they don’t win that game, the coaching staff my need to go back to the drawing board.

Part of the issue seems to be that coach D.J. Smith is running more often with veterans than his young potential stars. For example, Colin White has played only two games and been a healthy scratch in four of the Sens first six contests. He’ll get into the lineup against the Canucks tonight, and in what appears to be an about-face, Smith said of that decision, “he deserves a legitimate chance.”

Smith justified not playing White because he believed the veterans had outplayed the 23-year-old winger in scrimmages and those veterans hadn’t really lost their spot. The only problem with that? The Senators have not been very good these last few games and, for the most part, it’s the veterans who have been letting them down.

Now, about three or four games too late, Smith has identified that White has speed and skill and that he might be a player worth giving another look. In an effort to give him the best chance to succeed, Smith says he’s going to try White alongside Evgenii Dadonov and Nick Paul to start the game.

Matt Murray Ottawa Senators

The Senators Need to Do the Same With Other Youngsters

The future of this Senators club does not rely on the veterans, yet the team lineup is being built night after night like the franchise can’t trust its youngsters. Players like Filip Chlapik (23), Logan Brown (22), Alex Formenton (21) or Erik Brannstrom (21) are consistently sitting and that needs to stop.

The worst thing that probably happened for this team was that owner Eugene Melnyk said the club would be more competitive than everyone thought. He even suggested they could be a playoff contender. It’s great to be positive, but that team perception seems to have crept into the mind of the coach and influenced his decision making. That’s a problem.

Even if the Senators are better than people believe, they aren’t about to win it all. And, that’s just fine. If there was ever a season to get these young guys the experience they needed, this is it.

It’s time to run with the youngsters. Since the team is already losing, there’s no harm in seeing what comes of that decision.

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