Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back To The "Glory Days"


(I couldn't help but go with one more Springsteen song reference in the title...that's for you Sens Army!)

When's the last time you saw Ottawa play as good a game as the one they played against Buffalo tonight?

I'd have to go back to game 2 of the season in Stockholm, Sweden when the Senators dominated the Pittsburgh Penguins with precision and style.

The penalty kill was the story of the game as the Senators seemingly spent half of the 60 minutes in the box and only gave up one power play goal. Of course, much credit goes to Brian Elliott who played another great game.

More than anything, it was entertaining.

This year has been a bit of a bummer on the entertainment front but Cory Clouston's aggressive coaching style is making the games much easier on the eyes. Jason Spezza has suddenly come to life again and he nearly scored a mind blowing highlight reel goal after he beat the entire Sabres team in their own zone but was stopped by Ryan Miller when he quickly closed the five hole.

Spezza has looked ordinary at times this year but the new system suits his style and he looks less afraid to make mistakes. Those high risk passes are starting to work again but it was his determination to go to the net that got him his first goal when a pass went in off his skate.

This team isn't back to the "glory days" by a long shot, but at least the Senators are fun to watch again.

So it's off to Philly tomorrow night with a chance to make it 3 wins in a row.

No one will ever forget the disaster that was the Senators 8 game road trip over the Christmas season but so far, this mini 5 game trip has the potential to bring some pride back to this team.

***

The latest fiasco over what Dany Heatley did or did not say was absolutely ridiculous and completely blown out of proportion by certain writers and radio personalities who were just waiting to pounce on the young superstar for something. They found an angle and went to work, distorting what Heatley actually said.

The blog Blood Red Army does a good job of looking at the actual question which was asked of Heatley and how his response was distorted to make it seem as if he was at odds with Clouston.

"For starters, Clouston repeatedly said that Heatley is no different than anyone else on the team. "He's not where we want him to be and neither is the whole team in general. He's not different (...) Again, it's only been two or three practices. It's coming." But they weren’t interested in exploring that avenue. As far as the radio boys were concerned, Heatley had been singled out, publicly embarrassed and taken to task by the new coach, resulting in his smug, arrogant rebuttal.

But the smallest bit of common sense could lead a reasonable person to the following conclusion:

The last part of the question was "He thinks maybe you're pressing too much. Is that fair?" To which Heatley replies "No. I don't feel that way right now. I think I'm just trying to shoot the puck. I've had some good chances, like I said, last game, and it's kind of funny. The way I go, if a goal goes in and you play horribly, you guys all say everything is great and if you play well and the puck doesn't go in, you're playing bad, so... I'm just going to keep trying to shoot the puck and eventually they'll go in." ...

He's not saying anything about Clouston's assessment of his adjustment to the new system or anything like that at all... he's merely saying "No, the problem is not that I'm pressing too hard".



And this all comes after the Senators just got 3 out of a possible 4 points and Heatley led the team in shots with 8 against Buffalo on Saturday.

If you want to criticise Heatley for not playing well, that's fine. But don't take a harmless comment out of context as your means to do it. Just come right out and say he's been crap and list the reasons why.

To concoct a non-existant rift between a player and coach is beyond fair play.

What a joke.

***

This is good stuff. Over at Puck Daddy, they are running a "Create-A-Card" contest where readers can send in their photo shopped hockey cards taking some shots at Sid the Kid and other NHL personalities.

My personal favourite so far is this David Puddy (from Seinfeld) card. Be sure to also check out the Jonathan Toews "Super Skills" card which involves a beer bong.



***

Just before the start of the 2nd period, TSN showed a brief clip of a little tyke hockey player scoring an easy goal against the Sabres mascot during the intermission. James Duthie remarked that it reminded him of the Senators past goaltending....... Good move by the Sabres to use their original logo at centre ice this season instead of the Buffaslug. Those classic uniforms look amazing out there as well and someday when the Senators do the same thing, everybody will be wondering why it took them so long to do it....It must be tough for Craig Rivet to look at San Jose and see them building towards a championship run. Rivet came to Buffalo in the Brian Campbell trade and the Sabres look like they're first round fodder for a team like the Caps, Devils or the Bruins. Plus, the weather's not as nice....

Speaking of goaltenders past, Patty Lalime looked pretty sharp on the bench with a yellow toque on his head. That's a new style that I hope catches on. Just don't try to put one on Ray Emery's dome....Another thing I really like about Brian Elliott - he doesn't wear ridiculously oversized shoulder pads ala J.S. Giguere and Martin Gerber. He's trim and quick out there, the way goalies are supposed to be........ I hate to make another joke at Antoine Vermette's expense, but the guy couldn't even put one in an empty net at the end of the game with only one defenseman between him and cage. I've never seen such a skilled guy miss so many opportunities to score. He's one hell of a penalty killer though...



21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Spezza looks like he's being encouraged to use his instincts again. That's a good thing. Keep it up Spezz!

They are definitely easier to watch now. If Pete DeBoer was hired instead of Hartsy, we might not be in this position. DeBoer is known for coaching an aggressive style. I guess when Murray did his screening, he wanted Hartsy's dead puck system instead. I hope he is held accountable for that mistake.

Anonymous said...

It was Melnyk that nixed the DeBoer signing. He wouldn't sign him to a 4 year deal.

Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

It was Melnyk that nixed the DeBoer signing. He wouldn't sign him to a 4 year deal.

Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

"DEVILLLLLLSSSS! WHOOOOOOOOOO DEVILLLLLLSSSS!"

Anonymous said...

They felt DeBoer was playing them, so they cooled on him. And they would be right.

I don't blame DeBoer, as he was looking out for himself. However, I don't blame the Sens either, cause if I was hiring him, I would want to damn sure he was committed to our organization.

Hartsburg sounded pretty convincing when they hired him. Hindsight is 20/20.

Looking back, I kind a laugh a little. All this "accountability" BS.

All this team needed was some positive re-enforcement (like anyone would in their place of employment), and trust in their offensive skill game.

Hopefully, it keeps going, but as had already been mentioned, they are much more exciting to watch of late.

Peter said...

Awesome. We should have started this Bruce Springsteen Title-Off long ago.

Canucnik said...

99% of the time Coaching is not the problem. This time was the one exception to the rule. Talk about MGMT and the new coaches trying to pound square pegs into round holes.

We wanted a system to hide our old slow defence and a quick strike offence that no one believed in anymore. This is what Hartsburg gave us. But Hunt and he brought other flaws, old school methods, new guy doubt in your own observations (I mean they only had 50some years of experience but all as sheep.)

Early on I blamed Greg Carvel but gradually it became appearent that Alf or Fish (Everyone lets 15 & 19 off the hook and they should) could have and should have stood up at practice: "This 1-2-2 bull s&it ain't workin' ya got my ass glued to the blue line dot and I can't get off a dime". Also Philly is giving us his best Bobby Ore with his new shop workers hands. Talk about buyin' in.

So we waste a year but learn a valuable lesson if you are a leader lead don't blindly follow some guy who is clearly in trouble and doesn't know how to get out.

So nobody gets off the hook, have I left anyone out. OK! Me way back we see 21 get picked up and I listen to the talk, deep in my gut I know this strategy is wrong and wrong headed but I proclaim to my pups maybe we are wrong let's give 'em a chance. Wrong! Wrong! That's like having 285yds over water when Alf's three wood only goes 260. Don't go there, this strategy with our roster will not suceed.

And so, it didn't, and I am even more fired up at this bunch when they show me what they can do with a big time goalie (Again I'm one of the few to truely recognize (Early) his Top Gun potential... Group think had him as an NHL back up tops). I know Tim Murray is smart enough to read our blogs so tell him like it is! He is the new Mgmt Center on the Power Line, he is a "Player!"

hambown said...

Ouch on the Vermette comment. But true, oh my, so true. Duder is gripping the stick way too tight these days, though playing really well otherwise. Great on the PK. Him and Chris Kelley should start the stone hands club. Honestly, they both have great speed; both made great chances to score last night (Kelley had at least one breakaway, Vermette had a beauty wraparound chance + the empty net chance).

At home games, the fans should just shout "SHOOT!" whenever he has the puck.

Canucnik said...

99% of the time Coaching is not the problem. This time was the one exception to the rule. Talk about MGMT and the new coaches trying to pound square pegs into round holes.

We wanted a system to hide our old slow defence and a quick strike offence that no one believed in anymore. This is what Hartsburg gave us. But Hunt and he brought other flaws, old school methods, new guy doubt in your own observations (I mean they only had 50some years of experience but all as sheep.)

Early on I blamed Greg Carvel but gradually it became appearent that Alf or Fish (Everyone lets 15 & 19 off the hook and they should) could have and should have stood up at practice: "This 1-2-2 bull s&it ain't workin' ya got my ass glued to the blue line dot and I can't get off a dime". Also Philly is giving us his best Bobby Ore with his new shop workers hands. Talk about buyin' in.

So we waste a year but learn a valuable lesson if you are a leader lead don't blindly follow some guy who is clearly in trouble and doesn't know how to get out.

So nobody gets off the hook, have I left anyone out. OK! Me way back we see 21 get picked up and I listen to the talk, deep in my gut I know this strategy is wrong and wrong headed but I proclaim to my pups maybe we are wrong let's give 'em a chance. Wrong! Wrong! That's like having 285yds over water when Alf's three wood only goes 260. Don't go there, this strategy with our roster will not suceed.

And so, it didn't, and I am even more fired up at this bunch when they show me what they can do with a big time goalie (Again I'm one of the few to truely recognize (Early) his Top Gun potential... Group think had him as an NHL back up tops). I know Tim Murray is smart enough to read our blogs so tell him like it is! He is the new Mgmt Center on the Power Line, he is a "Player!"

Canucnik said...

If I am Antoine and I am your number 1 Penalty killer and just set the season standard of one 5 on 3 PP goal on a Senator's Record high 14 penalties and some writer/blogger makes a comment about my final shot of the game when I am so fatigued I can bearly stand up I would accost him physically but first I would kick him in the nuts to get his attention.

Anonymous said...

Antoine had an amazing game last night. He has been one of the most consisent guys on the team, and if his is value did not shine through last night, it never will.

He is awesome. He is also starting to get more chances, so his goals will come.

Anonymous said...

Don't mean to nit-pick Canucnik, but I think kicking him in the nuts constitutes "accosting him physically". Accosting him sexually would be a different thing... unless he got some perverse pleasure from a kick to the nuts...

Canucnik said...

11:58 & 1:PM.

Repetition for emphasis!
We shall miss him should he go! Plus he is fun to watch he's that good.

John Paddock the "American Leaguer" looking and sounding like one.

Brian Murray's job is even more secure again (Good play, turn around, the look of a competant team, Alf leading and looking good again) and Murray the "Younger" that's Tim will insure that security in the future.

Anonymous said...

Canucnik, there is a fine line between sounding like an "American Leaguer" and telling the truth.

If we jump all over people who are trying to get the truth out, we muzzle everybody.

Paddock's telling the truth. I agree with him. I hope others come out and tell us what they think.

There are times when comments sound "American League-ish". This is not one of them, in my view.

Anonymous said...

What else would Paddock say? That he himself sucked as a coach. C'mon.

The players were playing poorly, but the players are not bad themselves. You can play badly, but that doesn't mean your are not good. The are number of reasons one can play badly, for instance, bad coaching.

Hmm...

Canucnik said...

2:48PM

American League coaches don't critique their old NHL Mgmt if they want to work in the show again.

Truth or not, considered very poor etiquette. In theory you know too much insider stuff!

Plus John strikes me as one of those guys who has suppressed his intellegence for so long it turns on you and you do and say stupid/silly things.

Finally, I'm for suppression of anyone who does not agree with me but luckily I'm a minority of one.

Anonymous said...

Canucnik,

"American League coaches don't critique their old NHL Mgmt if they want to work in the show again."

I agree that this is how things generally work. But, I also think that this protocol is headed for the history books with the new generation of people coming into management roles. This is very old-school, in my books.

"Truth or not, considered very poor etiquette. In theory you know too much insider stuff!"


Again, I agree with you on principle. I think that it is more classy to take the high road 95% of the time. That being said, there are times when it is appropriate to make a comment. You have to use your own judgement to know when it is okay.

Paddocks's comment did not come off as unclassy to me. It felt like he was telling the truth. He had a .609 record and now he's riding the buses. On top of that, the local media and the national media look at him as a failure. I'd be pissed too, if I was him.

He spent more than 10 years in the minors before getting a second shot. Then he gets a shot and gets canned with a winning record.

It's about time he punched back a bit. He's burned his bridge with Murray. But, younger folks like me respect him more because he has the guts to speak the truth to power.

The problem is that I'm not a GM, so I cannot give him a job.

Still, I think the younger players in the game will look favourably on his comments.

Canucnik said...

John Paddock is brillant (Almost too smart for hockey ). He has two daughters who are exceptional scholars. In hockey unless you are the GM or the Head Coach you are not allowed an original thought. Even the scouts have to watch that their recomendations correspond with Head Coach/Group Think. He let those big horses run early last year because that is what they wanted to do and they were scoring and having a good time. John had been conditioned for over thirty years to give in to the other guy. It was his demise! Note. We had some of that reoccur this year with Carval/Alf/Fish staying quiet too long.

John is stuck like a lot of old guys. This is really a young man's game to play and coach. Look at Cory, he is the prototype for the future. Not necessarily a former NHLer but welded/connected to the players.

Anonymous said...

Paddock was the author of his own demise..... The only reason he was fired with a winning record was because he rode the Big 3 for the first 17 games, and when they starting showing signs of fatigue he kept on them.

Not only is he a bad judge of talent, he doesn't know how to dole out the minutes in order to keep all 4 lines fresh.

Win and you're in Paddock!

AHAHAHA!!!

Anonymous said...

anon @ 5:20pm

The reason Paddock was canned is due to the fact he had Emery on a long leash rather than a short leash.

Murray wanted Gerber to succeed. Paddock was too loyal to Emery.

That is why Murray pulled the plug so soon.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 7:10pm

Yes, Paddock's handling of the goalies is an extension to his ineptness as a head coach in general.

If Murray wanted Gerber to succeed, he would have gotten his wish. But seeing as Emery was signed by Murray, I think Murray would want Emery to be pushed into the position whether he deserved it or not.