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Cody Ceci and Mark Borowiecki are now the veterans on the team as they have been here for longer than almost anybody. That is an incredible fact considering how poor both of their results have been over their careers. To me, the two of them are the weakest defenders on the roster (if we exclude Ben Harpur as the 7th) and they aren’t going to be miraculously improving. For this reason, Guy Boucher should keep them together as he did during the first game of the season.
Wait, I want to keep a horrendous pairing together? Yes, and here’s why.
The Senators are going to lose the possession battle almost every single game this season because they simply don’t have the talent to do so. Ceci and Borowiecki are going to be a major reason why, and if they are playing together, then there are going to be some horrendous results. However, the two of them can be such anchors that if they are split up, Ottawa risks other defensemen being bogged down by the two of them. I don’t want to see Thomas Chabot’s impact being lessened by playing with Ceci, nor do I want to see Dylan DeMelo’s impressive debut with the team head off the rails due to being partnered with Borowiecki.
The Senators actually have some intriguing defensemen with Thomas Chabot, Max Lajoie, Dylan DeMelo and Chris Wideman (plus Christian Wolanin and Christian Jaros in Belleville). The team and the fans need to see what they can do at the NHL level, and they aren’t getting a proper evaluation if they are stuck playing with defensemen who have proven to be extremely ineffective at limiting shots against. I’d love to see Chabot with DeMelo and Lajoie with Wideman because at least with those pairings, we can get a better sense of how good these defensemen are. But if one of them gets stuck with Ceci or Borowiecki, it’s almost impossible to have a positive shot impact.
It’s only been three games, but Ceci has an abysmal 37.61 CF%, and Borowiecki sits at 38.04%. Having said that, Wideman has been even worse at 36.17%, and even Lajoie is at 38.46%, so there have been problems all around. But the difference between the former two and the latter two is that the former two have a long history of being at the low end of shot numbers. For their careers, Ceci has a 46.22 CF% and a -4.06 CF% relative, and Borowiecki has a 46.87 CF% and a -1.69 CF% relative. It’s not pretty.
Meanwhile, Wideman has a 49.17 CF% and a +1.93 CF% relative over his career, with much better numbers after his rookie season, and Lajoie is still a rookie who has to be given the benefit of the doubt so early on. Then of course Chabot and DeMelo have gotten off to fantastic starts, so there is no need to have them held back.
Furthermore, Ceci has been responsible (or partially responsible) for too many goals to begin the season, as he has been on the ice for eight of the team’s twelve goals against so far. That sort of ratio won’t last all season, although if he is getting 25 minutes a night, he could easily end up with the worst plus/minus in the league. He’s already at -4 through three games, can he reach -82?
I don’t think I need to outline why he’s been bad over the course of his career, because there’s literally nothing positive I can find regarding his underlying numbers besides his consistent ice-time. I don’t expect his ice-time to get rolled back considering how much Guy Boucher loves him, but I just hope that he doesn’t put him with someone besides Borowiecki too often, because that could ruin Chabot or Lajoie (or even Wolanin).
One could argue that Borowiecki and Wideman have played well together in the past, and that is true. That could be a passable third pairing, but then that would mean Chabot would most likely be playing with Ceci on the top pairing, which would be one of the worst in the league.
Instead of spreading the wealth, I’m hoping that Boucher keeps the poor defensive players contained---although this article hasn’t even touched on Ben Harpur…
If he plays, there’s a chance that all three pairings could have an anchor: