Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Missed Opportunities ... And Other Notes


Okay, so maybe, just maybe I was a little rough on Craig Hartsburg for his shootout strategy.

I haven’t said a bad word about him yet this year so I figured I might as well start with the nuclear option.

But the main point of what I said remains true: He didn’t go to his best players when the game was on the line.

Jarkko Ruutu might have a great shootout percentage but Hartsburg still should have went with Dany Heatley.

Heatley has expressed his desire to be more of a leader and this was a chance to let him go in and prove it with the game on the line. Hartsburg went for statistics but he should have went the “intangible” route.

It would have been a huge moment if Dany Heatley went in and scored. Who knows what that could have led to heading into Thursday’s match against the Canadiens. Even if he didn’t score, at least he’d have been put in the position to help this team and he’d be judged on the outcome. Now it’s not black and white. It’s a murky grey.

Even Henrik Lundqvist was surprised to see Vermette and Ruutu, but he wasn't complaining:

"I like the challenge of facing their best players" in the shootout, said Lundqvist, who agreed that he didn't really get that chance Monday night. Asked if he was surprised to see Ruutu lining up, the goaltender replied: "Heatley, Alfredsson - yeah, surprised. Not disappointed."

- New York Daily News


I don’t think that leaving Daniel Alfredsson on the bench was a very inspired move either and to me, this ranks right up there with Ron Wilson’s decision to pull Vesa Toskala and insert Curtis Joseph, because of Joseph’s better statistics in the shootout. Toronto didn’t have much to lose at the time but Ottawa had plenty to lose against the Rangers and in this way, it’s somewhat more damaging.

Now the winless streak is at 5 and the end may be nowhere in sight. I’ll continue to support Craig Hartsburg because I think his system is good for this team but his decision making has been too “by the book”. Trying to force some secondary scoring backfired on him badly. The theory was sound but it never felt right.

It was the same as last night. He looked at the stats and made his decision – something that could only look good on paper.

It still doesn’t feel right.

***

Bruce Garrioch has been speculating about Mattias Ohlund being available and it's pretty easy to see why it makes a lot of sense.

While the Canucks only have 4 defenseman under contract for next year (Bieksa, Salo, Mitchell and Edler), they all will make over 3.25 million each . That's a heavy cap hit for your top 4 and Ohlund won't likely take a paycut to stay in town as a free agent.

Ottawa on the other hand have 5 defenseman under contract (if you count Brian Lee) but only 2 make over 3 million (Phillips and Volchenkov). Ohlund would be a good fit on the ice and on the accounting sheet.

If Vermette is one of the guys going the other way, as has been speculated (and wished for by many), his 3 million salary would make him the second highest paid forward on the Canucks of players under contract for next year.

Of course, the Sedins are unrestricted this summer and will probably get a signifigant raise from their 3.75 million salaries. There's also a lot of whispers that Marian Gaborik might make his way to Vancouver if he gets to free agency.

You have to wonder if a team that already has a few similar players would really want to take on Vermette's contract. If he's not going to break out like everyone has been waiting on for years, 3 million is pretty expensive for a penalty killer.

***

I got a chance to watch most of the Sharks-Predators game last night and the fights that broke out were unbelievable. While the game wasn't as out of control and entertaining as the Boston-Dallas tilt from a few week's back, it was still filled with some big time nastiness.

Jordin Tootoo, who we'll hear from a bit later, starts this melee by sucker punching Brad Staubitz, and then Jody Shelley and former Senator Greg DeVries get it going. DeVries does okay here but he ends up in big trouble during the rematch.



Now things get out of hand. The next three fights are all within ten seconds of each other if you go by the score clock. This is Joe Thornton taking on tiny Scott Nichol. Nichol doesn't care about the size difference and just wails away.



Now Staubitz and Tootoo finally get together. Tootoo gets hammered a little but watch how he throws with both fists. Crazy.



Now this one ends it all. DeVries gets destroyed in the rematch with Shelley and probably has his nose broken. Not pleasant to watch.



***

Ruutu was at his agitating best last night and probably crossed a line by shooting a puck at Lundqvist after he blew his shootout chance. Brandon Dubinsky didn't hold back:

"Just let him run his mouth and be ineffective," Dubinsky said. "That's just the way he is. He's pretty careless on the ice. I don't know, he's an idiot."

-New York Daily News

EDIT: Bob Mackenzie wrote a piece today about the "late" Ruutu shot and explained in detail how, if the puck had happened to find a way in the net, it would actually have counted.

"If Ruutu had scored on that bad-angle and seemingly late shootout shot, it would have counted.

According to NHL rule 25.2 on penalty shots, or shootouts if you will, that was still a live puck and Ruutu was within his rights to shoot it at Lundqvist.

"The original loss of the puck was not on a shot,” NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkon told TSN. "Therefore, the puck is live until it comes to a complete stop or the puck completely crosses the goal line."

***

Speaking of trade possibilities, Jay Bouwmeester is off to a bad start for the Panthers:


"Of greater concern is that he has zero goals and five assists through 16 games and has a team-worst minus-6 rating. Bouwmeester, who continues to lead the NHL
in average ice time (28:45), started slow last season, too, but finished with a career-high 15 goals and 22 assists."


-Sun Sentinel



What are the chances of Jacques Martin helping out the Senators by dealing Bouwmeester to them? Probably nil.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, it turns out that Ruutu's "second" shot in the shootout was actually legit. I have yet to see it since hearing this, but apparently he never got the first shot off. The puck hadn't crossed the goal line yet and he was still going in a forward motion. Had he scored, it would have counted.

Also, apparently the official spoke out after the game declaring that Ruutu had done nothing wrong.

Anonymous said...

Also, apparently I'm retarded and completely missed your link to the Ruutu matter.

Josh said...

Ruutu is *good* at shootouts, so I don't know why you're critical of that choice. Especially when ANTOINE FREAKING VERMETTE was one of the others in the lineup. If anyone shouldn't have been out there, it was him and his hands of stone.

Jeremy Milks said...

Josh, I pointed out that Vermette was a bad choice in both of my last posts.

Regardless, the shootout is nothing but pain for the Senators and it's getting tiresome watching it and talking about it.