Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Just another day at Sens practice during a stretch where the defending Eastern Conference champions have played only twice in 17 days. No word on whether Gary Bettman has brought this issue up with the crew of monkeys on Percocet who actually draft the schedule.
Ray Emery took a shot off the mask from Patrick Eaves and didn't take too kindly to it. According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, the team kept their shots low for the rest of practice after Emery looked like he wanted to bury Eaves at centre ice. (Emery probably looked extra scary because he just recently shaved his dome).
No one seems to be concerned about the in-fighting, claiming it's all just due to the long layoff, and as assistant coach Ron Low told Garrioch, "Familiarity breeds contempt, even against your own teammates."
The 9-1 Sens also have some business to take care of when Dean McAmmond's shoulder is strong enough to play. It looks like rookie Nick Foligno is the one who's going down to Bingo when that happens, but according to Allen Panzeri of the Citizen, he's willing to go down there if that's what the team decides. He played the fewest minutes on the team against New Jersey on Saturday and Randy Robitaille, who just signed with the team, has looked pretty good so far, further pushing Foligno towards the Bingo bus.
Regardless of this, nobody's heard the last of Foligno for this season. One injury on the team and he'll be back.
Speaking of Bingo, baby faced defenseman Brian Lee is playing pretty well, tied with the plodding AHL warhorse Denis Hamel for the team lead in scoring and racking over 20 minutes a game.
It also looks like Jason Spezza might have hurt his groin and nobody really knows if he'll play against Atlanta on Thursday.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Everyone is "tired" of it man.... MLSE.... More powerful than the Caltholic Church.... and better lawyers to boot... Only way to stop it is to not go to the games.....gotta plan? - trevorchef
I hate this teamI just cheer for the sweater - spinerama
Hey man, everything is cool. MLSEL they are wide awake and counting all the profits they made this night, that is all they are worrying about, $$$$$$$$ - leafdome
Trade McCabe!!!! Hes sooooo stupid! - encore
Put away the tin foilTake down the parade bleachersPark the bandwagon in the garage...............until the next victory - spinerama
HELLO JFJ ARE YOU HOME OR IS THE LIGHTS JUST BURING AND NO ONE IS HOME. I am Pi**ed after this one. - leafdome
you know what? I have finally decided to become a light hearted Leaf fan, I really can't take this crap anymore, this team has pissed on me for the absolute last time. I simply can't put my heart into this team anymore, it will put me into an early grave. - Danielzimmy
Anyone else notice that Maurice is starting to develop a 'nervous tick' when he has to speak after a loss? - Kypreo
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Most Exciting Team To Watch: Toronto Maple Leafs
Love them or hate them, something interesting always seems to happen when they play. They might get run out of the joint and score on themselves in overtime or they crank up the offense and rack 6 goals on the scoreboard. The only thing Toronto is missing to make it a true circus is a pest/enforcer type like Tie Domi or the way Darcy Tucker used to be.
Honourable mentions: Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins.
Friday, October 26, 2007
In this latest entry, Nikulin sounds lonely as he grinds out the AHL schedule on the buses, cramming Big Mac's and watching movies.
From a translation at HFBoards.
"October 26: The Farthest Road Trip.
As it was explained to me, the road trip to Norfolk was the farthest for our team. It really did take a long time getting there, 9 hours. But I must admit everything went much easier than I anticipated. The bus had all the amenities, even wireless Internet. And after all, the roads in the US are much better than even in Moscow, to say nothing of the rest of Russia. Because of that the trip went by unnoticeably. We made just one stop at a McDonald’s, where I bought something to eat.
I’m not a big fan of looking out windows, so I can’t share much about the views. I watched movies, played computer games, browsed the Internet, slept. We arrived at our destination around 10 PM and right away checked into a hotel.
Perhaps it was the road, or something else happened, but we were a totally different team in the first game. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I personally played my worst game. I think we somehow weren’t prepared. We could do absolutely nothing. The legs did not move. You seem to make one stride, but then the legs block up. And our goalie didn’t have the best night. Anyway, I want to forget that game as quickly as possible.
But the second game turned out quite differently. We were probably angry after losing 5-1. And the opponent relaxed after an easy win. But it’s not like we had nothing to do with the success. We played a totally different game. And Norfolk is a good team. Tall defensemen, and just the whole team is very big. The forwards are technical. I liked the opposition.
By the way, these two games for Binghamton I spent on the same line. We are the first line with Danny Bois and Denis Hamel. We spend approximately 20 minutes on the ice. Our line has been the most successful thus far. Bois has five points in five games, I have four, and Hamel has three.
Do I get tired? I wouldn’t say I do, not too much. Disregarding the first game against Norfolk, where I felt exhausted after each stride, I have enough strength. But you definitely tire a lot more here than you do in the Russian Superleague. But honestly, it’s hard to compare like that. Russia has larger rinks, a wholly different type of hockey, space to skate. You skate less here, but it’s very intense. You must constantly hit your opponent and they hit you all the time. But I feel that we have a very strong team, although I’ve seen little of others. If we can avoid such setbacks like with Norfolk, then everything will be all right.
There’s no news from Ottawa. Nobody says anything. But it’s not customary to discuss that here. Anything can happen at any moment. They’ll say “get ready”, and you’ll be going up to the big team. But I’m very happy with how Ottawa is performing in the regular season. Taking out anyone who’s in their way.
By the way, a physical trainer from the Senators came to our club. The main team had four days off, and he spent a few training sessions with us. We did coordination exercises. Did things we didn’t do before. For example, running with a parachute on the back. It must be noted that that’s rather difficult.
I also want to mention that I really miss my parents, friends, my girlfriend Natasha. Even though she’s supposed to come over, there are certain difficulties with obtaining an American visa. She was already denied once. Maybe somebody at the US embassy reads this blog, or people that are in that field? Hopefully, they could help. "
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
"It was nice, because usually when we're on the road, we fly home right after games," Spezza said. "Some of the guys who have wives and families, they also got a chance to just sit around and shoot the breeze. It's nice just to get together and do nothing, really. It's good to mess around like this. And whenever you get a chance to play a little pond hockey at this time of year, it's welcome."
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
But have you listened to the station lately?
Let’s first of all just put aside the morning show, Three Guys On The Radio. Like all early morning drive-in shows, the hosts are expected to be upbeat and “wacky”. Occasionally it’s worth a laugh if you can sit through interminable mid-grade sex jokes and endless clips of The Family Guy. Whatever. It is what it is.
Next we are subjected to a show called Over The Edge with ex-wrestler and football player Glen Kulka and his underrated smart sidekick Lee Versage. Kulka is pure bombast with a paltry knowledge of anything NHL related despite being on the radio having to talk about the Sens for many long years now. He routinely badgers callers for having opinions that differ from his and on top of that, this bear of a man routinely destroys every interview he does because he asks questions that are 5 minutes long. Seriously. The more important person Kulka interviews, the more Kulka likes to hear himself talk. After winding up the 5 minute long question, inevitably the person being interviewed has to respond with the cliché answer because Kulka always just reaffirms the obvious in his questions. In fact, they’re not really questions at all. Kulka takes a predictable observation, explains it for 5 minutes, and shuts up long enough to let the person on the other end confirm that Kulka is correct about the puck being small and black.
Poor Lee Versage has to put up with this dude despite it being obvious that he should be hosting the show due to his superior knowledge of everything sports related, including hockey which Kulka knows virtually nothing about and only broaches the subject because he feels he has to. Kulka is way more comfortable talking about his love of CFL football and WWE wrestling.
Memo to Kulka: WWE is not a sport. It may be “sports entertainment” but it’s fixed and that’s why anyone over 16 years old stops caring about it.
After the always essential Jim Rome show, we get a show called More On Sports which is a vast improvement over Kulka’s charade. But even this show is starting to deteriorate largely because host John Rodenburg is suddenly not interested in anything sports related anymore. Instead of jumping in about the latest NHL controversy or the play of the Sens, J.R. spends the first two segments of the show talking about anything but sports. It’s almost a retread of the wacky morning show except co-host Garry Galley thankfully doesn’t let it get out of hand. Galley is a great addition to the Team but only when J.R. lets him talk about hockey. Instead we get the latest on celebrity gossip and the minutiae of J.R.’s and Galley’s personal life. That would be fine if it didn’t extend for the first freaking half hour of the show. Reluctantly, J.R. will turn his attention to hockey eventually so he can start making his signature smart-ass comments while Galley legitimately tries to offer some insightful opinions that get wasted by J.R.’s commitment to being “funny”.
I think the major point of deterioration for the whole station is that all the hosts are under the impression that they have to be comedians as well as good sports analysts. Nobody wants just straight hockey talk, but when the scale gets tipped too far the other way, what are we really listening to? If we wanted to listen to a comedy show, we can do much better than the balding white guys on the Team 1200.
As always, the Sens pre-game shows are excellent with host Steve Lloyd taking his job seriously and provoking thoughtful answers from his compatriots at the “round table”, usually Bruce Garrioch, Chris Stevenson and Mike Eastwood. The Senators play-by-play team of Dean Brown and Gord Wilson are always a great listen as well.
As for any real substantive hockey talk, the Team 1200 has fallen so far that only the pre-game and post-game shows offer anything worth thinking about. Definitely, the Team needs more people like Gary Galley, Lee Versage, Steve Lloyd and Gord Wilson and less of J.R. and Kulka.
Just an opinion.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
And just in case you thought things would be smoother in Montreal this year, Alexei Kovalev ranted to the media last night after losing to the Panthers in a tight overtime game and TSN seems to believe that it might have been a backhanded rip at coach Guy Carbonneau.
"In the last two minutes, we knew they were going to put a lot of pressure
on us," Kovalev told the TEAM 990 in Montreal.
"It was just my idea that we could have taken a timeout, get organized and get the right people on the ice. Maybe it could have been better. That's what I saw from the bench."
The comment appears to be a criticism of Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau, who struggled through his first year behind the Montreal bench. With Tuesday's loss, the Canadiens have a record of 2-1-2 this season.
“I didn't rat anybody out,” he said. “My objective was to tell the hockey world about it.”"
Ken Warren drops the word that Martin Gerber will get the nod in net against Montreal on Thursday. It looks like Ray Emery will be set to go on Saturday versus the Panthers. He also gives Alfie a little love in a nice piece today.
No word yet on whether Randy Robitaille cleared waivers (deadline: noon today) but if he does, it looks like Nick Foligno will be plying his trade down in Bingo while Robitaille takes over for the injured Dean McAmmond.
Bruce Garrioch also mentions that the Sens may be interested in former Ottawa 67 Zenon Konopka who may be put on waivers by Columbus. What's interesting about Konopka is not how well he plays (he's an agitating fourth line pest with so-so skill) but his personality which is outgoing to say the least. At least one little birdie whispered into my ear that two seasons ago during the Ducks annual rookie dinner here in Ottawa, Konopka was the life of the party despite only being called up a few days earlier.
Don Brennan reminds us that Jason Spezza is still goalless despite running away with the assist lead in the NHL.
Martin Havlat will be out another four weeks trying to get that chicken wing he calls a right shoulder some more healing time.
And of course, the destruction of Bryan McCabe continues unabated in Hogtown.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
In his 15 years in the NHL, Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has played less than 80 games only three times, including the lockout shortened season of 94-95.
Eric Lindros played 80 or more games only once in a 14 year career.
If the Los Angeles Kings miss the playoffs this year, it will be the first time the franchise has missed the post-season five consecutive seasons. Twice the Kings missed four seasons in a row (69-70 to 72-73 and 93-94 to96-97) only to qualify the next season.
The San Jose Sharks could have picked Scott Niedermayer 2nd overall at their first draft in 1991. Instead they chose Pat Falloon. New Jersey grabbed Niedermayer with the 3rd pick. In the same draft, the New York Islanders and the Winnipeg Jets passed up Peter Forsberg for Scott Lachance and Aaron Ward respectively.
No one has scored 5 goals in a game since Sergei Fedorov did it for Detroit against Washington back in December 1996. Jim Carey was in nets and won the Vezina trophy for best goalie that same season.
Dubinsky asked Richardson for the fight, obviously hoping to give a restless crowd something to cheer about. The next words he would utter would be "I'm okay, I'm okay" as he staggered from wall-to-wall down the corridor heading to the Rangers' dressing room. "
Monday, October 15, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Someone else is backing up my contention that Jordin Tootoo made a mockery of the game last night by trying to run Coyote Danile Winnik and then faking an injury after Craig Weller gave him a softie clothesline.
Ryan Dixon over at the Hockey News tells it like it is here:
"The transgressions of Steve Downie and Jesse Boulerice have been well documented, but the most recent reckless act was actually a near miss last night in Nashville. Noted Predators disturber Jordin Tootoo almost connected on a hit that, if completed, would have looked disturbingly similar to the one Downie laid on Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond.
Phoenix center Daniel Winnik was fighting off a Nashville defender while carrying the puck in the offensive zone and just as he was emerging from behind the net (sound familiar?), Tootoo tore in from his defensive post on the wing, hit the afterburners at the faceoff circle and attempted to knock Winnik six rows deep.
He missed. Barely.
But recognizing Tootoo’s intent, Phoenix tough guy Craig Weller went after Tootoo with some nasty intentions of his own. Weller whacked Tootoo with a forearm to the face, Tootoo hit the ice, Weller dropped his gloves but quickly realized that if he was going to throw punches they were probably better directed at the swarm of Predators coming after him than the one who was dazed on the ice.
Weller, appropriately, was given a match penalty for intent to injure. Tootoo, who received no penalty, called his check on Winnik a “nice clean hit.” "
"When you have guys like Kovalchuk, who is our game-breaking scorer, fighting, you know things aren't going well," said defenseman Garnet Exelby."
Tootoo took a major run at Phoenix forward Daniel Winnik, leaving his position at the blueline and almost taking Winnik’s head off with a hard shoulder. The search and destroy hit took place near the end of the game when the Predators were already losing 6-3. As for the hit itself, it is technically legal because Winnik had the puck at the time and should have had his head up. What is clear is that Tootoo, just like Steve Downey, purposefully charged across an entire zone to try and hurt another player. Okay fine.
Here’s the real disgrace. Tootoo takes a rather tepid clothesline from Craig Weller who instinctively tried to look after his injured teammate but when you watch the replay, Weller barely got his arm into Tootoo’s chest yet Tootoo falls to the ice and lies there as if he just received an elbow to the face. Some say the arm hit Tootoo's nose but it barely grazes it on the way by. Anyways, the trainers come out but there’s nothing for them to do because Tootoo was clearly just milking it for a penalty. He skated off just fine and went into the hallway for a moment, probably to laugh his ass off.
What is even worse is that Tootoo was the one complaining after the game. It was clear he tried to injure Winnik but here he was crying to the media about an injury that is non-existent.
“Tootoo appeared OK after the game, but would not directly address his physical status.
"Obviously I will leave it up to you guys to say how I feel," Tootoo said. "There was no possible way of me defending myself." ”
This is clearly just another player who “doesn’t get it”. He has no respect for his fellow union members nor for the game itself. He’s known around the league as a cheap-shot artist and someday, somewhere, this dude will get his clock cleaned and nobody will be complaining about the aftermath.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It paid off huge. Even captain Alfie said, "Smart move. The coach looks like a genius."
Elliott was fantastic throughout the game, especially in the third period, and even managed to contain his rebounds, something which the very lucky-so-far Gerber has been unable to master.
If this Elliott kid is the real deal, and by all accounts he is, then the Sens have never had such depth in goal. It is even conceivable that the Sens could trade Gerber and not demand another backup in return because Elliott looks that good. Seeing as Gerber might be worth something finally, the Sens may be able to pry a good forward prospect for him instead of just giving him away. That scenario is unlikely however as I’m sure the team wants Elliott to be playing huge minutes down in Bingo and not riding the bench in Kanata.
The big line was held off (on Atlanta television, the announcers were calling them the Pizza line and even had their side reporter explain the meaning behind the moniker, saying “Up in Canada they have a pizza franchise called ‘Pizza Pizza’….) but they were stymied more by Kari Lehtonen than by ineffective play. Dany Heatley had some good chances but couldn’t bury it and Jason Spezza was very effective carrying the puck last night. Alfie was his usual self and showed a real physical edge as well, giving Ilya Kovalchuk a real good bump before Anton Volchenkov gave the puck away to Kovie for Atlanta’s only goal. Alfie also gave Bobby Holik a spirited shove behind the net which led to the night’s only mob scene.
The Atlanta announcers were adamant that last night was the best game the Thrashers had played all season. I thought Lehtonen played really well despite looking sluggish in his movements. Everybody knows that Lehtonen has major fitness issues (ie: the dude is lazy and fat) but he’s so skilled that he’s able to overcome that when his groin isn’t hindering him. Kovalchuk looked like the leader on that team despite Holik wearing the “C”. The look on Bob Hartley’s face after the Senators third goal was of someone trying to mask sheer panic in a season that could go quickly down the tubes. The Thrash are 0-3 and no one has a hotter seat than Hartley.
Around the League:
Jesse Boulerice of the Philadelphia Flyers delivered a brutal cross-check to the face of Canuck Ryan Kesler last night. If Colin Campbell has any balls left, you send this guy home for 20 games like his goon teammate Steve Downie. Even Boulerice’s own coach was disgusted by his player.
"It"s unacceptable, it's something that we can't have," Flyers coach John Stevens said of the hit "We didn't need to get involved in anything really, we had the hockey game in hand and that was the message on the bench, so that kind of stuff can't happen."
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
TSN's James Duthie puts together a very funny piece on Luongo which includes his, err... stomach problems he had in the middle of a game in the playoffs last year, his bowed-legs and his baby making abilities. A must see.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
In this article he gets into European expansion but ends up in outer space. Seriously.
"There is, however, faint hope on the horizon. Aeronautical engineers say that we're not that far away from flights that escape the earth's atmosphere.
In other words, the plane would go so high that it would escape most of the earth's gravitational pull. While it's up, the earth would turn and then the plane would come down on the other side of the ocean. In theory, this would reduce the length of a transcontinental flight to two hours."
Always a good read, that Strachan.
As Stevenson notes, Volchenkov already has 25 blocked shots in 4 games and is only 3 saves behind Martin Brodeur. Stevenson also points out that the Sens only gave the Devils one power play after giving up 20 in the first three games. That's a sure sign that they have their skating legs back.
This of course flies in the face of the Stanley Cup finalist hangover theory. On the other side of the coin, the Ducks are floundering right now due to a ridiculous schedule that had them flying across the world to start the season. But nevertheless, people will be saying, "they got the hangover".
So why did the Sens jump right out of bed this year?
Answer is simple. New coach.
Just like any team that hires a new head man, the effects are usually positive in the beginning stages.
Maybe this is the answer for teams looking to repeat. The Stanley Cup sort of becomes the black widow spider of sports. After a successful mating, the male is killed and eaten. Life begins anew.
Kind of grisly but maybe it's the only sure fire way to avoid the dreaded hangover.
* The author takes no responsibility for this senseless post because, like the Ducks, he is also hungover.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
"Ken Hitchcock is a U.S. Civil War junkie who coaches a team named for Ohio's union soldiers. So he was ecstatic when the Blue Jackets asked him to help pick out an authentic cannon to "fire" a salute at Nationwide Arena every time his team comes on the ice, scores or wins. The team paid $20,000 US for an 1873 Napoleon field gun that will flash and billow smoke, while a 105-decibel blast is triggered in the rafters. "
Next headline in Columbus:
"Nationwide Arean Burns To The Ground After Rick Nash Hat-Trick."
"Perron is already making strides in his maturity. He showed up to training camp with white skates rather than the traditional black.
"He took his skates out of the bag, and right away I had the trainers paint them black," (Andy) Murray said. "He wasn't going to be different than anybody else."
"I understood why," Perron said. "Doug Weight, Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya wouldn't be happy to see a rookie with white skates." "
Just wondering: how do you dislocate a knee cap? Did it fall down around his ankles or something?
"BLUE TIDE TURNING
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said he sensed a change in the crowd in Ottawa's home opener against the Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
"Every year it's getting less and less blue, I think," he said.
"I probably won't be around when it's only a few blue, but we're getting there."
Friday, October 5, 2007
Vincent Lecavalier looks to be in good form early and don’t count him out for another Rocket Richard trophy although Dany Heatley and Alex Ovechkin will have something to say about that. Looks like Vaclav Prospal is due for another big season. He always alternates between lousy and very good. Last year was a lousy one. Those new darker Lightning uniforms look pretty sharp on the ice as well.
Speaking of uniforms, has anyone noticed how much the new Florida away sweaters look exactly like the Flyers when seen on television? I actually thought I was watching Philly vs New York for a couple of minutes until Olli Jokinen had the puck and I thought: Wow, Paul Holmgren really did revamp this team. Even though the Panthers didn’t look that great last night, they’ll make the playoffs this year.
Ottawa 3 Toronto 2
Wade Redden is back folks. He snagged two assists and was feisty all night. He probably has a burr under his saddle after media reports stated that he’s as good as gone this summer due to Heatley and Fisher signing big deals. Here’s something for Bryan Murray to think about: You can’t win a Stanley Cup without an elite puck moving defenseman. But here’s the question – is Wade Redden still an elite D-man?
I don’t know where John Paddock is coming from on this but he is really only using two lines so far this season and has completely abandoned playing his fourth. This might be due to Dean McAmmond being missing but it’s getting a little much, especially when the Sens are in the midst of a 4 games in six days meat grinder. It might help in the short term to double shift Alfie and Heater but what about down the road in April. Do you really want a bruised and battered Alfie trying to start a Cup run playing 26 freaking minutes a night? Chris Neil got a whopping total of 7:43 of ice time and Shean Donovan only saw 8:28. Brian McGrattan saw less than a minute of ice. Brutal.
Congratulations to Greg Millen of Hockey Night In Canada for another marathon of aimless and completely obvious commentary. At least he didn’t go into a tirade about the officials calling too many penalties. Maybe someone talked to him and Ron Maclean because they were both mum on their favourite pet peeve. If these two dudes ran the game, we’d be watching a rodeo on ice.
Martin Gerber again looked good but don’t let that deceive you. His rebound control was a mess again last night and this will always remain his fatal flaw. As Pierre McGuire said on the Team 1200 this morning, Gerber is a very good “initial puckstopper” but it’s like his pads are made of India rubber.
The Sens will have to stop getting penalties if they're going to survive the Rangers and Jaromir Jagr on Saturday.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
There's a series of interesting Versus ads now airing in the U.S. and Ottawa's very own Ray Emery is in one of them. Quite good with the black and white photography giving this a real nice touch of understated class which most NHL promo's from the past didn't have.
More importantly, the Sens are looking solid down the road because they’ve got almost their entire core under contract for many years down the road.
Heatley is signed until 2014. With options, Daniel Alfredsson is signed until 2012. Mike Fisher is here until 2013. Chris Phillips until 2011. Anton Volchenkov until 2010. Ray Emery until 2010. They even have Christoph Schubert for under a million until 2010.
That leaves Jason Spezza and perhaps Wade Redden as the main guys the Sens will be targeting for further contracts. Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun seems to think that the Heatley signing is the end of Redden’s career in Ottawa but I’m not so sure. If Martin Gerber continues to play well, the Sens will surely be able to rid themselves of his contract through a trade. Joe Corvo may also be moved to accommodate Redden’s salary because Brian Lee will soon be able to take over his minutes, as early as next season.
Chris Kelly will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and surely Bryan Murray would like to sign this guy, but he might have to be sacrificed. If either of Ilya Zubov or Alex Nikulin work out, that would allow Fisher to assume Kelly’s spot on the third line instead of being forced into an offensive role that he’s not really suited to.
On to the game last night:
First off, Spezza was horrific. It looked like he was trying to play shinny to impress his family who no doubt were watching in Spezza’s hometown rink last night in Toronto. He gave the puck away over and over again trying to stickhandle through the whole opposition and was kept at the margins for most of the game. Coach John Paddock is gonna have to get out the paddle for Spezza if he doesn’t show some maturity here in what was supposed to be his breakout season.
Alfie was his usual self, if a little rusty. Redden finally woke up after a two year coma and got into two scraps in which he held his own, despite getting cut by his own helmet in the second one. Gerber was solid but not unbelievable as some are claiming. He let in two goals that he should have had but overall, not bad for opening night. Andre Meszaros continued to struggle in his own end defensively but showed some great offensive patience setting Heatley up for the tying goal in the third. I’d much rather see Christoph Schubert paired with Redden but that’s why Paddock is a successful coach and I write a blog. Meszaros is still young and will improve in his own end eventually. Did you notice that Mesz is growing his hair out again? Maybe it’s superstition because he had long locks in his rookie season and the guy was lights out. He cuts it off last year and falls off the charts. If this works, the nickname “Samson” is just screaming out for this guy.
Nick Foligno didn’t see much ice but had at least one good shift. I’m not sure if Josh Hennessy actually saw any more than 2 shifts the entire night. I’m still not sure why Paddock chose to dress Hennessy over Luke Richardson. Even if Richardson only plays 2 shifts a period, that would give Paddock the option of moving up Schubert from time to time to play forward when the team needs somebody to give them a physical edge.
If Richardson is going to be leader in the dressing room, he has to get some games in to earn his teammates respect. Plus, Ottawa can use Richardson’s size down low where he’s still very useful if the pre-season is any gauge.
Overall, a middling effort by the Sens who only won when they decided to crank it up in the third. That strategy might work against a very shallow Leafs team but it won’t work against many others. Look for a better Jason Spezza tonight during the re-match because Ottawa fans will start bringing out the baskets of raspberries if Spezza starts turning over the puck like he did last night.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
No one really believes that this contract story will go away if Heatley doesn’t sign by tonight, despite Heatley’s claim that it will be time to “concentrate on hockey”. Until this thing gets resolved, it will be the proverbial elephant in the dressing room except this time the elephant is taking a massive dump on the Senators logo in the middle of the carpet and Bruce Garrioch and his media counterparts won’t be able to shovel fast enough.
Now, onto the game at hand.
No one seems to know for sure yet but it seems like Christoph Schubert will indeed be playing defense with Joe Corvo as his partner. This is a break from yesterday’s news that Schubert would be playing on the fourth line. That’s because there’s speculation Josh Hennessy will be ready to come back from a shoulder injury in time to step onto the ice at the Air Canada Centre. What kind of game Hennessy could provide the Sens is questionable due to his rather limp and flaccid performance during training camp. Schubert on the other hand looked like a Boston Bruin from their heyday in the 70’s when he was put on the frontline. If coach John Paddock is so concerned about the play of Luke Richardson that he’s willing to put Hennessy into game action, then this team might need some trade help pretty fast.
A guy like Luke Richardson was brought in to help in the dressing room but he’s still effective on the ice as a punishing down low defender. Sometimes it takes the old guys a few games to get going properly so it’s my opinion that Paddock should just throw him in there with Corvo and let him get going. Corvo can provide all the speed that’s necessary and that way we won’t have to watch Hennessy mope around the ice like he did all September. That dude was brutal despite having probably the best chance coming in to grab the spot now occupied by Nick Foligno.
The line to really watch tonight will be the Mike Fisher, Patrick Eaves and Foligno line. We already know what the other combinations can do but both Foligno and Eaves had phenomenal camps. Fisher is coming off an injury so it bears watching how he reacts as well.
On the Leafs side, it will interesting to see how Pavel Kubina is playing after apparently getting his head together during the summer. Look for Jason Blake to be a real catalyst for this team, taking over the role that Darcy Tucker had some limited success with last year.
Of course, the goalies lie at the crux of the whole damn thing. Martin Gerber still hasn’t convinced me that he can actually control a rebound and not collapse under the pressure of a meaningful game. And on the Leafs side, who the hell knows who or how they’re going to play.