Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Glimmer Of Light - Ottawa 3 Atlanta 2

Is it possible?

I'm not talking about the Ottawa Senators making the playoffs...yet.

I'm talking about the Senators beating Montreal at home on Saturday night.

If they could somehow find a way to win that game, then maybe you have something. Maybe a glimmer of hope.

Maybe some renewed confidence and a chance to surprise some teams such as Washington who will drag their tired bones into Ottawa next Wednesday after playing the Islanders the day before.

Maybe Ottawa even finds a way to beat those same Caps, bringing them to the All-Star break on an 8 point streak....

Anyways, back to reality.

The Senators have now won two games in a row over two struggling teams and that's a start. If anything, the positive vibes are fortifying for the soul right now.

Jason Spezza is back and so is Dean McAmmond. Chris Phillips has his "Big Rig" strut back and Antoine Vermette is winning faceoffs like his very existence depended on it. And that goal by Alfie? Vintage.

I don't know if it's because they hit rock bottom so hard that all the pressure is suddenly off or if Craig Hartsburg has suddenly found his voice in that locker room. But something is different.

Brian Elliott has somehow provided a spark for this team but he looked like a bit of a mess tonight. Starting back to back games is tough for a rookie and Elliott was deep in his net and giving out rebounds that rivalled the great king Martin Gerber. The important thing is that he got the win but, as Pierre McGuire pointed out on TSN, he's going to need some major work on fundamentals with goalie coach Eli Wilson.

But that's fine. Ottawa has Alex Auld and he's probably due for a good stretch of games here and that will allow Elliott to feel his way into the league. Elliott seems to have a knack for making the big save at the right time just out of pure athletic ability and as long as you have that, fundamentals can be taught along the way. Remember, Ray Emery was similarly rough around the edges but managed to get technically better as he went along, all the way to the Cup final.

Now if we could just convince the Senators music/sound guy to play the E.T. quote "Elliott" after every big save (as my friend suggested), we might just have a fan favourite on our hands here.


Sure would like to know what Jesse Winchester and Colby Armstrong were talking about after giving each other a few spirited shoves late in the first period. Someone must have told a good joke because they both cracked up laughing. Maybe it was something like this:

Armstrong has always been known as a bit of a ham, not to mention Sidney Crosby's best friend when the two were teammates in Pittsburgh. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ray Shero make a pitch to get Armstrong back in the fold after dealing him in the Marian Hossa trade last season. That might put Sid The Kid in a better mood. He's been crabby as hell all season ......... Georges Laraque had been doing a great, very readable blog on Sportsnet this season until the Habs brass told him to shut it down. Laraques does a good job explaining the Habs decision but it still seems too harsh and narrow-minded in an age where access to players has improved dramatically across the league. Ten years ago, interviewing players in the middle of the game on the bench would have been unthinkable - old school coaches would have been choke slamming journalists left, right and centre. Now the media can follow players to just about anywhere, short of the crapper. Laraque's final blog is well worth the read. He tells a great Mark Messier story (and also claims the Moose is his all-time favourite player, something me and Laraque share in common) and says that, "pound for pound", Chris Neil is one of the toughest players in the league. Smart guy, that Georges.

Speaking of jokes, veteran referee Dan Marouelli had Daniel Alfredsson laughing just prior to the opening faceoff and in the second period, Pierre McGuire informed the TSN viewing audience that Atlanta behemoth Boris Valabik told the Ottawa bench that he would "slash the lips off" of the next Senator who said anything. Memo to Boris: Jarkko Ruutu can still bite without his lips........ I have to agree with Don Brennan who recently wondered why Brendan Bell has been taken out of the lineup in favour of Christoph Schubert. Bell looked impressive recently, jumping deep into the offensive zone trying to create offense. Schubert might be a tad better in his own zone but right now, Hartsburg should be thinking offense.........I'll make a bold prediction here: Brendan Bell will one day find work in the local hockey media. He's a good interview and smarter than his meagre NHL experience indicates..... Chris Phillips was the "Monster of the Game" according to TSN's McGuire. But if you were a regular listener to Over The Edge on the Team 1200, you'd be convinced he's a piece of garbage, much like the rest of the players...... I keep saying it but Bryan Murray has got to get Chris Neil under contract for the next 3 or 4 years. If the Senators lose this guy, the lose their heart.


Anonymous said...

I think hope is still there. Eleven points back of Carolina, with two games in hand. It's doable.

Will it happen? I think goaltending is the biggest issue. You can't let in softies against the better teams.

It looks like the reigns have been loosened on Spezza. That's a good thing. Brian Lee is getting a good look. I like what I see.

Clearly, the defence will need some new pieces in the summer. The goaltending will also need to be addressed. I have seen enough to know that I do not want Bryan Murray making those decisions.

Canucnik said...

Pierre McGuire doesn't know a broom stick from a goal stick and should ask Eli before he speaks. Brian Elliott's fundimentals are excellent and he catches the puck better than most (That, as a lot of you may not know, including McGuire, is also a fundimental) he is struggling with the speed and quickness of the show (only natural, he's not seen much of it yet) and the 6 guys who come out in 2s to protect him. Here is the deal you have come from an average season to capture the American League now "they" want you to become the #1 goalie on a 28th place club in the NHL. Try that on for "pressure", this gentleman is a college kid, you are not going to "Bamboozle" him. If they feed him to the Habs, we want some necks on the line. Mgmt Necks?

Anonymous said...

McGuire should do his homework. Yes the kid let out some juicy rebounds last night, but he is generally known for having very good rebound control.

Elliot has won a national championship with Wisconsin and goaltender of the month in the AHL. Hardly the work of a guy in dire need of an Eli Wilson tutorial. Anyone watch the previous two games? Garry Galley was raving about Elliot's rebound control.

McGuire is really too much sometimes.

Anonymous said...

When push comes to shove McGuire is a Leaf fan.

Enough said.


Canucnik said...

Pierre McGuire's broadcast team (with Gord Miiler) for the Jrs is "world class" (they made their bones with it) but the NHL coverage is lazy (stale) and repetitive. To long between the benches and much too long from being behind the bench. Cookie cutter type format that has not changed for years (nothing new, no spontaneity) Example: He had coffee with the guy in Texas two years ago. Pierre is tough to watch and tougher to listen to, and when he starts on Brian Elliott that caught my attention,it was mentioned on this blog. (Their coverage is the reason I started to tape the games with the sound off.) Spelling error: "fundamental", no excuse I get so emotionally involved with Mr. Elliott, I am hardly rational. The first time I saw him: "This guy is really going to be something, catch the puck, catch the puck accross his body, he doesn't have to load the trapper, he doesn't have to cheat, he is like a cat (A nick name given out many times over the years but never to a bad goalie)". I used to broad cast the games with my hockey cards when I was six years old, wish I had keep the tape, I would have sent it to TSN.... Little Joke! I am just jealous.

Jalen said...

Unfortunately, McGuire's become more about trying to be a personality and trying to entertain than about providing useful, accurate and insightful analysis. No matter how dumb his point, he sticks to it and goes out of his way to find and obscure facts to support it.

Miller's a good play-by-play guy, but he thinks too highly of his own "knowledge" of the game. It results in embarassment to himself sometimes.

Last night, he mentioned three times how the Sens PP hadn't scored in 4 games and how suprising it was they potted 2 against Atlanta without knowing the PP had been dominant the night before with 2 goals just as the PP expired. I understand they don't provide game to game coverage of the Sens, but you'd think he'd at least have read or talked to someone about their last game.

TSN needs to remember that hardcore fans want the focus on the games not their "personalities."

- Jalen

Anonymous said...

Macguire was on the money last night. Elliot played okay, but his rebound control was nothing like the previous two games when he was really on. That's okay, guys. We still won. He played well enough to give the boys a chance, that's all we can expect.

Anonymous said...

Enough with the verbal diarrhea lil' nicky. And please cut the "good old days" crap. It's the "new" NHL. Defensemen score goals too now. And, there's this new thing called a "slapshot".

Mickey said...

Frankly I think they are much worse in the world juniors. Both of them get way to exited about the smallest things. Both constantly lose their voice over everything which is just horrible to listen to. Millers voice is extremely irritating. I'm so tired of him saying "in front" every single time something goes within 50 feet of the net. Cant he think of something else to say? And who the hell says magic mittens? Wtf is that...
It was almost offensive for him to suggest eberle's goal in the world juniors was the biggest goal in Canada's hockey history. Please... Canada Russia Summit series anyone?
They constantly go on and on about how great the juniors players are... comparing Hedman to Pronger...saying how all the players are nhl ready when clearly they are not. Lets get serious here. I really do respect what Pierre has to say for the most part, but the endless overhyping for the sake of increased ratings and his annoying vibe really lends him less and less credability.