Saturday, January 31, 2009
Senators -Blue Jackets the Cure For Insomnia
Last night's loss to the Blue Jackets was perhaps the most boring hockey game I've seen all year. Or possibly since the lockout.
It was one of those games that intermittently sours me on Craig Hartsburg. I've both liked and disliked him at various points this year but I'm starting to tilt one way over the other.
I'm not one of those guys who blames every loss on poor player effort. I believe that it's built into an NHL player's DNA to compete. That's what got them to the NHL in the first place.
But it's up to a coach to harness those players and build a system that will allow his team to succeed and I'm not convinced that Hartsburg's style is really bringing out the best in this group.
This team can't score, yet it was the second highest scoring team in the NHL last season. Losing Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros probably has a lot to do with it but the Big 3 should still have more points than they do and that, to me, reflects more on coaching than it does on players "effort".
Something is not right here. Hartsburg is looking desperate and illogical by first scratching Jason Smith, one of the guys who plays the shutdown system the most effectively and then sitting Dean McAmmond last night in what can only be seen as a coach just trying to embarrass a veteran player.
The speedy McAmmond was taken out for Christoph Schubert of all people. It's a bush league move on the part of Hartsburg and I am starting to suspect that he will never win over this room.
That will come as a shock to a lot of fans who think the role of a coach should only be that of a perpetually angry punisher who's sole purpose is to question the manhood of all those rich and spoiled hockey players. Who cares if that style was last seen in the 1980's?
I don't feel that I've been overly critical of Hartsburg this year and I do think that this team needs a coach that makes players more "accountable". I'm all for that.
But what Hartsburg seems to be doing is forcing a defensive system that this team is not really built for. The best chance for the Senators to have success right now is to open up the offense and just pray that Brian Elliott and Alex Auld can hold the fort.
Instead we get another low scoring snoozefest and a coach who has hit rock bottom by trying to embarrass his veteran leadership group.
If this keeps up, Hartsburg will be gone and he'll have to take at least some of the blame even though the fans and the media will predictably make him out to be a martyr.