Tuesday, April 29, 2008
"How many times have you heard a coach or player follow a loss with, "we just didn't get the bounces."
Equipment in hockey has changed over the years, sticks have evolved from wood to composite, so the NHL's ice guru wants a full investigation into how to make a better puck.
Maybe a puck that bounces less.
Craig also wonders if the existing puck has been altered over time, the chemistry somehow changed.
Inglasco, the NHL's manufacturer didn't immediately return calls. "
Monday, April 28, 2008
Hartley has won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001 and was head coach of the Hershey Bears when they were AHL champions in 1997 (see his career stats here).
Stevenson mentions that there have been rumours that Hartley and Dany Heatley weren't friendly during their stint together in Atlanta but Hartley fully denied this.
Interviewing Hartley makes sense on a couple of levels for Murray. The obvious reason is a Stanley Cup ring and the fact that he's available, but it's also relevant that Hartley is from the Ottawa area and Murray has made it a point of his administration to bring in local people.
Shean Donovan, Luke Richardson and Randy Robitaille were all local Ottawa players brought in by Murray and only Robitaille didn't work out as planned. Perhaps Murray is thinking in the same terms as Hartley.
If this is the case, then Pat Burns will get consideration as Stevenson notes in his article. Burns used to be a cop across the river in Hull, Quebec.
It's a tricky situation when you bring up coaches with past glory like Burns and Pat Quinn. To fans, these names are gold. They have a sense of trust in these names. But are these candidates still relevant in today's NHL?
Burns and Quinn are as old school as they come but can they be successful in 2009?
I'm quite skeptical about both of these coaches and in particular Quinn. Are Ottawa fans really ready to accept a guy like Quinn who kicked their favourite team all over the ice four times in the playoffs? Wouldn't that be the biggest sellout of all time?
Well, in a town that allows its captain to be booed on home ice, the notion of Pat Quinn coaching the Senators is not that far-fetched.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Patrick Roy's son is putting out a hip-hop album. That's the same son, Jonathan Roy, who was suspended for 7 games in the QMJHL for imitating a scene out of Slapshot.
According to Kukla's Korner, Celine Dion is helping him out with the recording.
Welcome To Hell.
In case you need a reminder of the Roy family antics ...
What was I doing outside in the second period? Weird stuff happens with these two teams in the parking lot. One time in Denver, ex-Detroit coach Scotty Bowman got into a shouting match with Colorado's Claude Lemieux. After an Avs loss here another time, Roy, with his back against the concrete wall next to the bus, was consoled for a half hour by three teammates.
"The small, fenced, guarded parking area just outside the back door of Joe Louis Arena is reserved for the visiting team's bus. Two minutes into the second period Thursday night, the driver of the Avalanche's charter was onboard, and the motor was running. ...
The parking lot was the place to be on Thursday night. At the end of the second period, Avs general manager Francois Giguere and Theodore hurried out the door, to a cab, not the bus. They didn't pause for questions."
- Denver Post
Thursday, April 24, 2008
"Veteran goaltender Olie Kolzig had cleaned out his locker stall and left the building, skipping the mandatory meeting. He did not speak to reporters. After Monday's 3-2 loss at Verizon Center, he stripped his name tag off of his locker stall.
Kolzig, a fixture in the Capitals' net for a decade before being essentially replaced by trade-deadline arrival Cristobal Huet, did not play after a 5-0 loss in Chicago on March 19. In recent weeks, Kolzig seemed increasingly detached as Huet led the Capitals to the franchise's first playoff berth in five years. Kolzig, 38, did not return a message left on his cellphone, and his agent, Art Breeze, declined to describe his client's thought process, other than to say: "The choice will be Olie's as to where he plays next year. But rest comfortably that there will be a multiplicity of options available to him."
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Rachunek, who sat out the final seven games of the regular season and all five playoff games, believes he was punished for talking to teams in Russia about next season.
"Everything happened because of the rumors," Rachunek said as the Devils cleaned out their lockers at the Prudential Center. "I don't think there is anything wrong with talking to European teams. Just like NHL teams talking to European players in the middle of the season. "There were rumors I signed with somebody. I didn't. They called my agent (Petr Svoboda)."
- The Star/Ledger
Monday, April 21, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Around The League ... Murray Says Emery Is Gone ... Gaborik Disappears ... Over The Edge Stays (Why Can't It Disappear Too?)
As expected, the beat writers spent all their energy writing about Ray Emery after the fall of the Senators to the Penguins. There was nary a mention of John Paddock's contribution to the unravelling of this team or any other possible factor. Unfortunately for the writers, no one got the knock out home run article they wanted because no player threw Emery under the bus like they expected. In fact, he was defended by most of his teammates and even Bruce Garrioch had a hard time trying to muster his usual contempt for the 25 year old.
Regardless, it looks like Emery has played his last game as a Senator because GM Bryan Murray strongly hinted in today's press conference that he's going to "explore all options", including a trade or a buyout of Emery's contract. It will be interesting to see what Murray comes up with because if he is thinking that Martin Gerber is the answer, he better get around to signing him to a contract extension. Gerber is unrestricted after next season. In today's conference, Murray tepidly characterized Gerber's performance as "fine" and that if there's an opportunity to upgrade, he'd do that.
It's a bizarre situation the team finds itself in. Emery is detested by the fans so much that Gerber has been made to look like a hero when in reality, he is a very average goalie with some major flaws in his game. The fans seemed to divide into camps with each side calling the other goalie names.
Perhaps the best thing to do is start over with two new goalies. But that is easier said than done. So do you go for skill (Emery) or likeability (Gerber)?
Frankly, everyone should be sick of talking about it. I know I am.
It's absolute torture to listen to these guys say the exact same things day in and day out all season long. It's like they have a set of talking points that must not be strayed from and the message is "The Senators don't work hard enough" , "Ray Emery is a deviant monster" and "The Senators still don't work hard enough". That's their level of sophistication on all subjects. They speak only to the lowest common denominator and somehow that passes for sports talk radio. It's like listening to two cavemen arguing over whether the number 3 comes before the number 4 (and they both get it wrong). It's too bad because Versage used to be pretty interesting and fair-minded but the Kulkster influence has ruined him for good.
I also feel sorry for callers who try to express an opinion different from the "agenda". Kulka tells them they're an idiot and they go back to speculating on whether or not Ray Emery has a drug habit, which Kulka ridiculously insinuated back in January. How the station didn't get sued is beyond belief.
He didn't just miss shots. He had trouble controlling the puck. He had trouble touching the puck. At times, Gaborik, one of the most gifted players in the world, seemed to lose all motor skills. Gaborik has been a wonderful player here, but he is the most passive of hockey stars, a player who sometimes waits for opportunities instead of creating them.
- Star Tribune
The first thing the Senators should do is sign Mike Commodore. This guy is awesome on and off the ice. He was one of the better players against the Penguins and the team can always use his size and character. It sounds like he might need convincing though. Hard to blame him after the gong show that just concluded.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
"Sportsnet finished well below the competition in the categories surveyed, and surprisingly ranked behind the Score in every category but one. ...
Sportsnet's low approval rating may reflect its narrow range of programming, mainly regional hockey and the Jays. The decision two years ago to go casual with its newscasters - jeans and open-necked shirts - received mix reviews."
"Very disappointed," he said. "Last 60 minutes is the worst hockey I've played in my life. I have nothing to say about it. It's terrible. I feel very bad about myself."
- Detroit Free Press
"...Iginla ... was was heard screaming at assistant coach Rich Preston behind closed doors of the players’ lounge across from the Flames dressing room.
So clearly heated was their exchange, associate coach Jim Playfair heard the ugly confrontation and bolted into the room to ensure things didn’t escalate.
The media was quickly escorted back out of the area as PR boss Peter Hanlon joked, “everyone’s a little nervous about flying!” but not before the emotional captain was spotted face-to-face with the coach as others gathered. "
- Calgary Sun
Like the Carolina’s, the Edmonton’s, the Calgary’s, the Tampa’s and probably this year’s Ducks, the Senators found it too hard to live up to expectations after a long playoff drive the previous year.
All the aforementioned teams experienced significant drop-offs in success after their Cup runs and Ottawa is now going through the same turmoil.
But that won’t stop the critics from pressing for massive changes to the team’s structure.
To do so would be a mistake (except maybe can the moron who thought up the pre-game festivities for Game 3).
Eugene Melnyk has already said Bryan Murray will be back next year as GM and that’s the biggest no-brainer so far. Murray has done a great job overall with this team but even he couldn’t stop the slide with his years of hockey experience.
Undoubtedly, Murray erred when he brought back both Emery and Martin Gerber and he also miscalculated when he gave John Paddock the chance to coach this team.
Paddock’s coaching philosophies were bizarre to say the least. He completely overplayed his top three forwards early in the season which robbed the team’s other players of any significant roles on the squad. When Spezza, Heatley and Alfie started to break down and struggle right around Christmas, an anonymous player told the Ottawa Citizen that he “could have predicted that months ago”.
One wonders what Paddock was thinking. After having come off an exhausting playoff run, he drove his three best players to the limit in October and November without any thought that they might drop from exhaustion when the team needed them most. When they did, the Senators had no other players able to step up because Paddock hadn't given them any ice time or responsibility. The end result was a playoff sweep at the hands of the Penguins because the top three were either injured or ineffective. There has to be some blame placed in Paddock’s corner.
The team never fully recovered though Murray managed to get a lot out of players like Shean Donovan and Antoine Vermette in his short time behind the bench.
The elephant in the room is obviously the goalie situation and in my opinion, Paddock completely bungled that as well. The old saying goes that a player shouldn’t lose his place on the team because of injury. When Emery was recovering from wrist surgery, he had the number one position locked up because of his great play in leading the team to the Cup final.
Paddock had a different idea and stuck with Gerber when Emery got healthy. This caused an immature Emery to start pouting and everyone knows what happened after that. Paddock took forever to make a decision once Gerber predictably started struggling and his “win and you’re in” philosophy is the stupidest thing heard in Bytown, second only to the Spartan who stood at center ice and embarrassed this organization for at least the next five years (or as long as YouTube exists).
When Murray took over, he made the decision to go with Gerber. I don’t agree with that decision but at least Murray had the balls to make one and he would live or die with it. Turns out, he died with it but no one should completely blame Gerber for the collapse. This was coming right from day one when Paddock made the decisions that he did.
Murray tried to clean up the mess, but as Jason Spezza noted to the media after last night’s loss, it felt “like the walls were closing in” around this team.
The negativity was palpable from the fans. They were ready to run Emery out of town at the drop of a dime, despite the fact that it was clearly a case of an immature athlete and not a monster as most are making him out to be. There hasn’t been a case of media overkill like this since Alexandre Daigle was proclaimed to be the next Gretzky.
The next target was Wade Redden and after that it was the constant ridiculing of Spezza and so forth.
It’s like the fans in Ottawa can’t grasp the unalterable fact that teams need skill players to win hockey games. Their only criteria for loyalty is players that “work hard” and that is the extent of their sophistication on the subject. If they could have a team of 23 Mike Fisher clones, they would be in heaven. Too bad they wouldn’t win anything.
Murray made a statement concerning the changes upcoming and said that many ingredients go into a winning team. On top of “hard working” players, you need skill. You need tough defenseman to go along with offensive ones. You need the Chris Neil’s and Shean Donovan’s but you also need the Spezza’s and the Heatley’s.
It works the other way too for the bi-polar fan base. Most fans seemed dissatisfied with the play of Mike Commodore but what did they expect? Commodore came in and played his game. Yet fans complained that he was too slow etc. etc. Commodore has won a Stanley Cup playing a big role in Carolina yet he’s somehow not good enough for the Senators? This guy should be brought back if he will agree to. And that's not a given due to the circus like atmosphere around this place.
The fact is that this team had an off year but there should be no major fireworks in the summer. The core is solid and signed for many years to come. With the right coach and a good rest period, these players will compete again.
As I’ve said before, I think the Senators should try to rehabilitate Ray Emery. He’s simply too good to give up on because he made some mistakes this year. Forget the moral bleatings of the puritanical fan base and the fabricated outrage of columnists like Bruce Garrioch. Emery is the best option in nets for the franchise unless they can work a miracle and bring in someone like Roberto Luongo or Martin Brodeur.
Everyone knows that won’t happen so use the assets that you have.
If Murray can’t convince himself to coach this team next year, he should bring in someone with experience but not a dinosaur like Pat Burns or Pat Quinn.
Mike Babcock has no contract for next year in Detroit and Murray was the one who hired him to coach in Anaheim. He should be target number one with Joel Quenneville second on that list. Even a guy like Larry Robinson might be a good fit though it's thought that he doesn't want to be a head coach anymore.
Regardless, it should be an interesting summer in Ottawa but it will probably be quieter than you think.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The Colorado-Minnesota series is getting extremely nasty and even the reporters covering the games are getting pissy. Woody Paige from the Denver Post sounds like he might start throwing his fists around if the Wild don't simmer down and play nice:
"After being humiliated in the first period and being completely out of it in the second period, the Wild turned feral — brutishly trying to "send a message." ....
The Avs were solidly on their game, and the Wild had no game, no skates, no effort Tuesday night, so the Minnesota players went Daniel Day-Lewis on the Avalanche. There must be blood; there must be fights; there must be stupidity; there must be ejections; there MUST be suspensions.
The Wild players' mothers had to be really proud of them. That was not pretty. And coach Jacques Lemaire should have been ashamed. That was not nice."
There is still a large buzz surrounding free-agent prospect Fabian Brunnstrom and now that Vancouver canned GM Dave Nonis, the Red Wings feel that they might have a shot at signing him after being rebuffed in favour of the Canucks earlier. The problem is that he wants 2 million and a guarantee of top-six minutes on the roster. Now he's starting to get some criticism as James Mirtle reports in the Globe and Mail:
"He was brilliant during the regular season, but had a really bad playoff with Färjestad," said one Swedish reporter. "[$2-million] sounds a bit much, doesn't it? I mean, he did play in the Swedish Division 1 — which actually means the third division, after Elitserien and Allsvenskan — last year. And I don't think he will make the roster for the national team in the world championships."
Larry Brooks of the NY Post thinks the league went overboard in its reaction to Sean Avery's circus act against the Devils:
"The demonizing of Avery in the wake of his creative shenanigans is completely out of line. What shrine, exactly, did he desecrate? What player's leg did he step on with his skate blade? What player did he send flying face-first into the boards on an icing touch-up?"
Chris Chelios has a penchant for saying some insane things, like the time he threatened Gary Bettman's family during the 1995 lockout. This is sort of pales in comparison but Chelios is still not making any new friends. Here he describes Nashville fans:
"Yeah, they're hillbillyish. ... I don't know what to say, hillbilly or country."
"They are a very emotional crowd, exciting crowd, loud, so it's actually a fun place to play on the road."
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Around The League ... Sparta Goes Under ... Monument Smashed In Bytown ... Nonis Gets Canned For Boring Hockey ....
One detail I did not notice is that fans at the game were given little swords as they came into the building to go along with the "Sparta" theme. A caller went on the morning show on Team 1200 and said that fans had no idea what to do with these swords and most of them ended up on the floor almost immediately. The caller went on to say that maybe the organization wanted fans to do the Atlanta Brave "tomahawk chop" with the swords which everyone knows is the lamest thing ever invented (and completely racist).
I used to frequent that laundromat and live in that neighborhood. Let's just say I'm not surprised something like this happened. There are plans to replace it so the prostitutes and the crackheads will still be able to learn something about the city's history.
David Nonis was fired by the Vancouver Canucks amid speculation that Anaheim GM Brian Burke might be making his way back up the coast to take over the operation. Burke's wife works in Vancouver and has been making the commute for a couple of years now.
I tend to agree with James Mirtle that this was a good move on the part of the Canucks. Mirtle points out that besides the one great trade that Nonis made (Bertuzzi etc. for Luongo), he hasn't exactly improved the team through his free-agent signings or trades.
But the sore point for me was the way the Canucks morphed from a high-tempo, exciting team into the perhaps the most boring team in the league. Nonis hired Alain Vigneault knowing full well that the hockey would be dull and in the end, the Canucks didn't win anything anyways.
There are a lot of columnists coming to the defence of Nonis, in particular Ian MacIntyre who points out that the Canucks have probably lost the opportunity to sign Swedish prospect Fabian Brunnstrom because Nonis was the architect of the impending deal. Almost every team in the league is trying to sign this guy and with Nonis now canned, they may get a second chance (including the Senators who are said to have pursued Brunnstrom hard).
"The irony is Nonis hoarded his key assets and managed his payroll well enough this season that, for the first time, he had players to trade and money to spend on free agents this summer in order to pursue the two or three key forwards the Canucks needed."
Tony Gallagher of the Province whole heartedly applauds the move, citing boring hockey as one of the primary reasons for Nonis's firing:
It's one thing to lose, but quite another to lose in boring fashion. And if there is one thing an owner cannot have, it's watching his customers fail to be entertained, and on many nights this season that was certainly the case, this team often excruciatingly boring even on nights when they won. ...
When you think about it, the Canucks are the only team in Canada that plays a system that made scoring goals a pretty difficult task, particularly with the woeful quality of forwards Nonis had assembled and placed in the care of now dangling coach Alain Vigneault.
Hugh Adami of the Ottawa Citizen takes the game way too seriously when he suggests that the NHL should try to get Sean Avery out of the league altogether. Adami claims that Avery is bringing the league into "disrepute" with his antics, especially the circus act he unveiled when trying to screen Martin Brodeur last game. The league changed the rule overnight to allow the refs to call an unsportsmanlike penalty in such a scenario.
I give kudos to Avery for trying something new. It was hilarious and I know that anytime Avery is on the ice, I'm watching. The league can use at least ten more guys with Avery's personality.
What is it with Ottawa sportswriters anyways? These guys are the new morality police of the NHL. If you're not white bread and butter, you're a menace. Let the game breathe for chrissakes.
Monday, April 14, 2008
"On a Sunday night that will live in franchise infamy, the Sharks repeated their familiar and lousy act of playoffs past. They wasted away their excellence. Again. They didn't respond well to a physical challenge. Again. ...
This is the classic behavior of our beloved Los Tiburones. It has been their behavior for the past four years. They raise Stanley Cup hopes by looking dynamic and great for a while. Then some adversity hits them and they go down in, yes, Flames."
Evgeni Nabokov also ripped into his team:
"It takes men to play this sport, not a bunch of boys," the Sharks goalie said Sunday night. "And we looked like a bunch of boys out there and they looked like a bunch of men. Now we have to turn it around and respond."
The Flames beat writers are not shying away from plunging in the knife either:
"The Sharks had the Calgary Flames, near helpless, by the short-and-curlies Sunday night, and didn't have the sense to squeeze.
When in desperation the Flames pushed, hard, often harder than the bounds the law or etiquette allow, the Sharks didn't push back.
They simply wilted. "
The first stat that hits you - The Senators have never rallied back from a 2-0 deficit in a playoff series.
Perhaps even more daunting is the league wide stat - Only 37 out of 280 teams down 2-0 in a seven game series have come back to win.
If the Senators are planning on being that unlikely 38th team, they are going to have to overcome not just their own adversity, but (as people are prone to forget) they have to beat a very good Pittsburgh team that hasn’t even played their best game yet.
Despite racking up the points, Sidney Crosby has yet to have a breakout game like he is certainly capable of. His linemate, Marian Hossa is still struggling but it’s only a matter of time before he makes an impact.
What’s left for Ottawa to surprise the Penguins with?
Short of Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher making miraculous recoveries, not much. It would help if Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley found some chemistry but alas, Bryan Murray has opted to split them up for tonight’s game (assuming Spezza can play through his mysterious leg injury).
According to the Ottawa Sun, Heatley will play with Antoine Vermette and Cory Stillman while Spezza will center a line with Nick Foligno and Alex Nikulin.
It’s not a bad move on Murray’s part and it might spark something in either player though I would put my money on Heatley’s line being more successful. Spezza with two rookies does not exactly inspire confidence.
Nikulin, a recent call up from the eliminated Bingo Sens, has the ability to produce – but in the NHL playoffs? I don’t expect much help from the young Russian who looked overwhelmed in the regular season.
Regardless, the Senators can build on a gutsy and gritty performance in game 2 and they must play the same style of game tonight. Of all the teams in the league, the Senators should know that skilled teams can sometimes be beaten by a more physical and determined squad. The Leafs did the same thing to the Senators four times in the past.
Martin Gerber will again have to be outstanding but he has got to find a way to keep the Pens to 2 goals or less. He has been stellar but he’s still let in four goals a game. He’s got to steal one tonight, no matter how tall a task. The best goalies find a way to do it and Gerber should be held up to the same standard no matter how popular he is with the fans and media right now. The fact remains that he let in a very stoppable wrap-around goal that decided the game because he was too far out of position.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Around The League ... Sabres Get Ready To Dump More Salary? ... Nobody Seems To Want Jacques Martin Around Anymore
Henrik Zetterberg was ridiculously good last night against Nashville. If you get a chance to catch this series, Zetterberg is going to take that thing over. He might be the quietest superstar in the NHL.
"Should Martin choose to stay, it's uncertain how the hiring of his replacement would be handled. Cohen said briefly Friday that Martin would help decide his successor.
However, it's likely Martin would select someone similar to his own personality and coaching style, something which fans and Cohen alike don't feel has worked the previous three seasons. Several players in the Panthers' dressing room were also displeased with how Martin related to them as coach."
"Captain Olli Jokinen, right wing Nathan Horton and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester .... were said to be most unhappy with their coach and the atmosphere. Too much negativity."
If there is one player on which the GM and coach clearly disagree, it's Jeff Tambellini. He scored one goal in 31 games with the Islanders while averaging only 10:25 ice time per game. But he resumed scoring when he returned to Bridgeport, where he is tied for the AHL lead with 36 goals in only 53 games.
"We don't know what we have in Jeff Tambellini until he gets an opportunity to play significant minutes and play on one of the two power-play units," Snow said. "He's a proven goal scorer at every level when he's gotten the opportunity. He's got speed, he's got a rocket of a shot, and he's high-character. We'll see if he can do it at this level."
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Around The League ... CBC Screws Ottawa Fans Yet Again ... Sharks Trying Not To Choke ... Sidney's Doppelganger
"Well, that wasn't exactly a chicken-bone-in-the-throat ga-a-a-g you heard gurgling out of the Sharks -- Game 1 is too ridiculously early to begin predicting any sorts of trends in a series -- but they could be heard clearing their throats, loudly.
This franchise, as everyone is doubtless aware, has slipped on so many playoff banana peels you might believe they played their games in a Chiquita factory. In order to avoid a sordid regurgitation of the past bile, a victory, preferably of the comprehensive variety, was imperative Wednesday night."
Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gets it right when he says that Roberts is "torturing" the Sens.
"He's got that thing in his eyes," Talbot said. "I don't know what it is, but it's pretty scary." ...
They paid Roberts the ultimate hockey compliment by trying to beat the heck out of him in the final few seconds. ...
"I was at the bottom of the pile, so I don't know who was punching me," he said. "I just knew I was getting hit a lot."
Roberts' puffy right eyelid showed it. It looked as if it were about to explode.
Roberts clearly loved it."
There were some positives to grab a hold of… but not many.
After a disgraceful start, Martin Gerber actually played really well in the second and third periods. The problem is that Gerber got his team behind early when he watched a weak backhander by Gary Roberts beat him to the glove side. That was the end of the game right there because the Senators couldn’t capitalize on two 5 on 3’s later in the contest.
Gerber simply has to stop that puck just for the sake of everyone’s sanity and not just because it was a weak shot (and the first shot on net!), but because it was Gary Roberts. The mountain of mental baggage that comes with Roberts versus the Senators is just too much too fathom at this point, yet we are seeing it all over again. Gerber struggled all through the rest of the period and nearly let in a Tommy Salo-esque goal when a puck hit his shoulder and flipped behind his back, narrowly missing the net.
But he stepped up huge with a glove save on the same play that Anton Volchenkov got his forehead caved in by a slapshot and from then on he was stellar. He then went on to let in two more marginal goals at the end of the third period and that was all she wrote.
At the end of the day, Gerber still let in 4 goals while Marc-Andre Fleury let in 0. People will be tripping all over themselves to say that Gerber is not to blame but he didn’t help the team win either.
The playoffs are about results and Gerber didn’t get the job done.
But neither did Jason Spezza or Dany Heatley and this might be an even bigger problem than shaky goaltending. They weren’t particularly bad but they were clearly frustrated at not being able to generate much of anything on offense and that’s not really a surprise. For all of their skill, Spezza and Heatley don’t seem capable of bringing their games to another level the way Daniel Alfredsson can in pressure situations. That’s not to say they won’t, but they don’t seem to be able to ignite that passion that allows teams to get over the hump.
On a more positive note, a few role players such as Martin Lapointe and Shean Donovan had decent games and the Senators showed some physical grit and toughness throughout. Mike Commodore was particularly hard on some Pittsburgh players but he made a crucial mistake that led to a 2 on 1 and a Petr Sykora goal.
As expected, Evgeni Malkin was dominant but Sidney Crosby had a strangely quiet game and gave Penguins fans a panic filled moment when he barreled into the end boards feet first, almost exactly the same way he badly injured his ankle earlier in the season.
The dude was okay.
So what should give the Senators hope for the next game and the rest of the series?
Well, when all is said, it could have been much worse. For large parts of the game, the Senators were competitive and actually seemed to win the second period despite being severely shorthanded injury wise and on the road.
Somehow, somehow…if Spezza and Heatley can find a way to score and they steal a game in Pittsburgh on Friday, things change a little and there could be some reason for optimism.
But until anything changes, the Penguins played like the better team and there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case going forward.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Around The League ... Remembering the Brooks/Tortorella Shit Show ... Keenan's Back To Raise Hell ... And More Grief In Lotus Land
"This is the 11th straight season in which the Devils have been in the playoffs, but this may well be one of their most anonymous teams. John Madden said he has been to several hockey equipment/sporting goods stores in the area and wasn't recognized.
Brian Gionta has gone grocery shopping in Verona without being recognized.
Paul Martin recently saw the movie "SemiPro" at Essex Green Plaza and was not recognized.
Jamie Langenbrunner can shop or dine without being recognized most times. And he's the captain.
"You can even go to dinner with Marty sometimes and nobody will know who he is. Or, at least they don't let on that they know," Langenbrunner said. "
Across the Hudson River in Manhattan, the Ranger's most prominent beat writer, the grumbling and antagonizing Larry Brooks, picks the Devils to win in six games. I have to say I agree (in fact, I think New Jersey will win the East outright and that the Rangers are slightly overrated right now).
What I'm most looking forward to is Brooks getting into another public pissing match like the one he had with Bolts coach John Tortorella last year. At about 1 minute into this video, the shit hits the fan pretty good.
This is the first chance that Mike Keenan gets to coach in the playoffs since 1996 with the St. Louis Blues. That was the year Wayne Gretzky wore the blue note after getting traded from Los Angeles.
"In the 1992 Stanley Cup, I got slashed by Kevin Stevens, and Mike threw a cast on my hand and put me in front of the media to get a point across to the league and the officials that I was getting cheap-shotted," chuckled Roenick during a conference call yesterday setting up his Sharks' series with Keenan's Calgary Flames.
"He made me a guinea pig -- it was kind of embarrassing -- but what Mike says, you do. Mike is a genius when it comes to head games and getting into the referees' or players' heads. He's crazy -- very slippery, very sly. He can manipulate a lot of people with what comes out of his mouth. That's just a talent."
"So here's the bottom line. Every single player who fits into the "offensive minded" or "finesse" category on this team underachieved in terms of
Can you wonder why someone might want to question whether Vigneault is capable of coaching talented players? ...
What does it say to Naslund, traditionally this team's leading goal scorer, when he doesn't play on a five-on-three man advantage, something he hasn't done since Vigneault arrived. Is this not a kick in the jollies from the word go? What does it say to Naslund when he's playing with the Sedins and the line is doing well, when suddenly there's a power play and he's yarded off to the second unit in favour of someone who has nowhere near the offensive capability simply because said player happens to shoot right?"
Montreal vs Boston
Black Aces Pick: Montreal in 6 gamesPittsburgh vs Ottawa
Black Aces Pick: Pittsburgh in 5 games
Washington vs Philadelphia
Black Aces Pick: Washington in 7 games
New Jersey vs New York Rangers
Black Aces Pick: New Jersey in 6 games
Detroit vs Nashville
Black Aces Pick: Detroit in 6 games
San Jose vs Calgary
Black Aces Pick: Calgary in 7 games
Minnesota vs Colorado
Black Aces Pick: Minnesota in 6 games
Anaheim vs Dallas
Black Aces Pick: Anaheim in 5 games