Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trapped To Death In Beantown

Ottawa lost a tough one against the Bruins tonight but they at least made it interesting in the end with a belated comeback that fell short when Phil Kessel scored his second goal of the game into an empty net.

For most of the game, the Bruins were in perfect neutral zone trapping form, squeezing the speed out of the game and scoring on the limited opportunities they got. That's a characteristic of Claude Julien (and Craig Ramsey) coached teams and it was enough to beat a Senators squad playing the 2nd game of a back-to-back.

What's clear is that this team misses Filip Kuba and Jason Smith. The likes of Christoph Schubert, Brendan Bell and Brian Lee were pretty bad defensively tonight and Chris Campoli wasn't that hot either. A player like Jason Smith can be a nasty sonofabitch in his own end and against a big team like Boston, that can be even more helpful than a guy who can move the puck quickly. Byron Bitz looked like the Incredible Hulk out there, plowing through Senators defenseman like they extras on a bad movie set.

If Boston can get past their streak of poor play, they are going to be a nightmare to play against simply for their combination of size and skill. Players like Bitz, Milan Lucic, Blake Wheeler and Zdeno Chara will soften you up while Marc Savard, Phil Kessel, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron will cauterize you with speed and playmaking.

Ryan Shannon (who had another great game and is quickly becoming a favourite of mine) is probably lucky to get out of that game with his head still attached to his shoulders. Chara probably eats bigger filet mignons than the size of Shannon.


Ever since the Senators acquired Chris Campoli, it's been bothering me that I can't recall who he reminds me of. Then it hit me tonight. Karel Rachunek. Seriously. With that helmet, visor and scraggly moustache, Campoli is a spitting image of the ex-Senator defenseman.


I don't like the decision to make Shean Donovan a healthy scratch. Peter Regin should have come out of the lineup before Donovan because the Senators could have used Donovan's speed, feistiness and ability to crash the net against the neutral zone trapping Bruins. Donovan withstood getting his nose getting crushed twice in one game to come back and play and then he gets told to sit down so a rookie can stay in the lineup? .......Chris Neil showed right away why the Senators need him on their roster next season. He's the only guy on the team capable of going up against a much larger opponent like the 6 foot 3, 228 pound beast Milan Lucic. And I'd give the fight to Neiler. It's strange how a player like Lucic can be so popular in Boston but the public in Ottawa is decidedly lukewarm about Neil. I'll never understand it.......

Have you ever seen a player spit more than Dany Heatley? He spits as often as Wade Redden used to blink before faceoffs. Regardless, Heatley played a great game tonight...... Is there room in Toronto for two gigantic ego's like Ron Wilson and Brian Burke? I doubt it. Wilson has been upstaging Burke so far this year and I don't think the big Irishman is going to take that lightly. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see a coaching change in Toronto this summer. Wilson is a bad fit in Toronto because he's overly combatitive with the media and already the two sides are more than sick of each other. Witness this debacle from two nights ago when Wilson teed off on the mild mannered reporter Howard Berger who has been covering the Leafs since at least the early 90's. While it's not quite John Tortorella telling Larry Brooks to "f#!k off!", it's still pretty good.


Anonymous said...

Auld was not hot either .. I don't mind Campoli .. But is he the great acquisition ?? time will tell .. I am still over the fence on that one ..

iron dog said...

Nice to see Shannon getting more PK time.

mickey said...

John Tortorella always seemed to be reasonable when destroying members of the media. They asked REALLY dumb questions in the playoffs (a stressful time given his goaltending situation) and he answered them as such. Ron Wilson just seems like an attention seeking jackass though.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind Regin getting the nod over Donovan, simply because now is the time to give the youth an opportunity to show what they got.

In fact, I'd like to see Zubov get a few games.

Some other random observations: Brian Lee's icetime since the call-up has been less than what he was getting in his earlier stint. I'd like to see him used more. Bell and Campoli have been logging a lot of minutes, but I think that Lee is a better prospect who could benefit from more icetime. It's a case of short-term pain for longer term gain.

I'd also like to see Clouston use Fisher in a more limited role. The idea of expecting Mike Fisher to be a top 6 forward has to end. Fisher is most effective playing with Neil as a line that bangs bodies. In this role, he doesn't carry the pressure of scoring, yet he still ends up being good for 20 goals.

I think Ken Hitchcock calls that "playing within yourself". It's worked great for Mike Commodore. He was a dud in Ottawa, but now logs top minutes for a playoff bound team, where is role is more defined. I expect that Hitch will get lots more out of Vermette, using this philosophy.

A few years back, the players on the Sens had their roles very well defined. The last two seasons, Fisher has been expected to be more than he is. End the experiment.

Fish may still pot 30 in a third line role, but it should be viewed as a bonus rather than an expectation. Let him focus on punishing the opposing defence with hits.

Tom said...

Speaking from a Bruins perspective, I wouldn't mind having Shannon in Boston. He sticks out as a guy who makes plays and has a good all around game.

phil said...

'I don't mind Regin getting the nod over Donovan, simply because now is the time to give the youth an opportunity to show what they got.'

agreed - i think most of the seemingly questionable lineup choices lately have been for that reason.. it's just as good to have these guys auditioning now as in the next pre-season.

but yeah, that sucks for donovan..

hambown said...

All for seeing Shannon back in a top 6 role next year. Sure fills a hole for us. I'd also like to see Foligno play with more nastiness.

As for Wilson and the media, I don't think there's a problem there. Howard Berger is a tool, and I for one an glad that Wilson gave him a verbal whupping on TV. Long overdue, and many members of the main-stream hockey media have it coming. Hopefully now instead of asking the usual crappy questions ("Do you think the team is trying hard enough" are you kidding me?), Berger & co will show some creativity.

Playing it ranty this morning.

Andrew said...

Milan Lucic is 10 times the player Chris Neil ever was and he's only getting better too. To say that their skill levels are comparable is stretching it to say the least.

mickey said...

I totally agree that many members of the media are unqualified at best, but i mean what did he expect when he signed up for this job? Intelligence? Quality? I dont know...