Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It was a brutal game to watch if you're an Ottawa Senators fan.
Outclassed in every category, the Senators were simply unable to answer the far superior speed and skill of the Canadiens.
And it's not like they didn't "work hard" as everyone will be questioning. They simply don't have the proper personnel to compete at an elite level.
Take Chris Higgins - Ottawa doesn't have a guy like Higgins anywhere in their lineup. Antoine Vermette is supposed to be that guy but Vermette was blessed with hands of stone despite being able to blow by people with speed.
Take Mike Komisarek - He dominated the game tonight and handled big players like Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley with ease. Ottawa has no answer for a player like that.
Take Georges Laraque - Ottawa has some middle-weight agitators who can scrap but no nuclear weapon like Laraque to enforce the peace.
Sadly, Ottawa used to have these answers but they were either let go or dealt away.
But that's in the past. What does Ottawa need to change to have success now?
For one, Alex Picard showed tonight that he is not the answer on the power play. He played his worst game of the season but it was eerily similar to the rest of matches he's played in. Hesitant with the puck and hesitant with the body. He's like Andrej Meszaros on a bad night, minus the size and physical play.
If Bryan Murray could work some trade magic, he'd definitely like to bump Picard from any sort of major responsibility with a bona-fide confident offensive defenseman.
It was surprising to see Craig Hartsburg sticking with his lines even when it was obvious no one had anything going tonight. Should he have united the Big 3 for the third period? Should he do it starting next game?
He won't but he probably should.
At this point, the team needs goals. They've shown that they can play defense and stick to Hartsburg's system. But now they need an injection of skill and the only way that's going to happen is if Hartsburg swallows his pride and re-unites the big line while he waits for Murray to do his job and get some skill back on this team before it's too late.
This squad could do some damage down the line if they had some real secondary scoring and a proper power-play quarterback. Hartsburg's system is effective but without the goals, it doesn't really matter. Alex Auld played one of his best games of the year but still got blown out of the rink. That's gotta be disheartening.
Even if it means players like Jesse Winchester and Nick Foligno have to take a back seat or sit out, the Senators need players who can score goals and that's going to have to come from outside the organization.
One small pleasure derived from tonight's loss - Jarkko Ruutu waving goodbye to the Montreal fans with a big smile after getting ejected in the third period. I nearly choked on my beverage when I saw that.
I'm at the edge of sanity with my hockey pool goalies. First Marty Turco's career goes into the dumper. Now Chris Osgood trumps all his crappy performances this year by letting in 7 goals against the Pens tonight after leading big throughout the game.
Have you ever seen a grown man cry?