Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wiped Out In Tampa
A game to forget for Ottawa.
Playing injured (without Jason Spezza and Anton Volchenkov) and for the second consecutive night on the road, this game was dominated by sophomore Steve Stamkos and the gang mentality of the Lightning's fourth line that consists of Zenon Konopka, Steve Downie and Todd Fedoruk.
There's no excuses, but during the season, every team has nights where things go wrong right from the start and you run into a team that's motivated to beat you.
The Lightning were still stinging from a humiliating defeat to Ottawa earlier in the season and seemed intent on trying to run the Senators out of the rink both offensively and physically.
They even got the better of the two main fights when Konopka tussled with Chris Neil and Downey went with Jarkko Ruutu. That's just the kind of night it was.
While you don't want to start pointing out individual players when the whole team played flat, there were a few soft spots in the lineup for the Senators that were too obvious to miss.
Jonathan Cheechoo continued his descent into purgatory by playing only 9 minutes, just ahead of Neil who would have had more had it not been for the 5 minute major he took against the feisty Konopka. With two recent scratches Ryan Shannon and Shean Donovan playing spirited minutes tonight, you have to think that the next person to sit once Spezza comes back is Cheechoo. This team is carrying him right now and his poor skating doesn't fit the mould of what the club is trying to do.
But it isn't all Cheechoo's fault that the Senators have now lost 3 of their last 4.
Alex Kovalev needs to score more goals (although he had a nice one tonight when the game was already out of reach). Chris Campoli has to start being more firm in his zone. Alex Picard has to stop giving the puck away at the blueline like he did twice in the third period.
And the referees have to start giving the Senators some power plays. TSN's Pierre McGuire caught on to the fact that the Sens were getting "lippy" with the refs, but can you really blame them? The past few pre-game shows on the Team 1200 were full of Cory Clouston soundbites questioning the refs and assistant GM Tim Murray was a guest during an intermission tonight and he sounded exasperated with the officiating.
They were shorthanded 6 times tonight and were on the power-play 3 times. Against Florida on Wednesday, the ratio was 7-1.
Yet, there's only so many excuses. They lost tonight because Tampa was the better team. End of story.
This sets up an anticipated rematch a week from tonight. This has become a little mini-rivalry within this season as the teams have now played two particularly nasty games with both being lopsided.
Brian Lee had an okay game after getting called up to replace Volchenkov. Playing with Chris Campoli, Lee was a -2 with one assist and about 16 minutes of ice time. But what's with Lee's constant mouth guard chewing/slobbering and his sweater arms hiked up so far that his elbow pads are exposed? It probably looks cool in the minor leagues but it's not how an NHL player is supposed to carry himself. Wear your uniform like a professional and stop looking like such a hayseed from Binghamton. What's next? White skates and a tinted visor?......
Ever since my desktop computer died a few weeks ago, I've been using a mini-laptop kindly donated from a friend. But what I still can't master is that damn mouse pad. I don't get it. It's so hyper responsive yet I can barely get it to do what I want. Twice I've been in the middle of a column and have accidentally published my post by one slight slip of the finger. Then once in a while, it just randomly decides to scroll my entire page. You're probably thinking I'm just an idiot (and you'd be right), but I can't understand how anyone could use one of these things permanently. The one good thing I like? Lying on the couch with the laptop sitting on my stomach watching You Tube Mafia documentaries on a Sunday afternoon. .......
Edmonton just went up 4-0 on Detroit. For a guy as astute as GM Ken Holland, I cannot believe he didn't upgrade his goaltending this summer. Chris Osgood is a respected champion but last season should have been the warning sign for Holland. He should have went after Ray Emery when he had the chance. Not that Emery has been a Vezina candidate or anything, but he would have been as good a fit in Detroit as he has been in Philly. The Osgood tandem with Jimmy Howard is looking absolutely brutal right now.....
As talked about during the Team 1200 pre-game show (still a good listen after all these years despite having to put up with a perpetually grumpy and bitter Mike Eastwood dump all over Jason Spezza night after night no matter how good the team is playing), maybe it's time for Clouston to try Kovalev with Spezza for awhile to see if the two can get each other going a little more. If you drop Cheechoo down the lineup (or off the lineup), perhaps someone like Nick Foligno or Shannon can play with Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson. It may not work but it would be worth a shot to see if they can spark something in each other. Spezza has played good but Cheechoo is like an anchor on that line. Kovalev would also be the right wing on that line, his natural position.
See you Saturday against Atlanta.