Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Good Times In Bytown
I'm still here. Just busy as hell.
I've still been assigning the regular Black Aces 3 Stars and here is the updated list.
Of course, Brian Elliott has been rocketing up the card and Alex Kovalev has really come into his own on this team and the scorecard reflects that.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars Scorecard
3 Points 1st Star
2 Points 2nd Star
1 Point 3rd Star
Alfredsson – 27
Kovalev – 20
Elliott – 18
Fisher – 17
Michalek – 15
Spezza – 13
Neil - 13
Volchenkov – 10
Foligno – 10
Phillips - 9
Regin - 9
Ruutu - 8
Leclaire – 8
Shannon – 8
Brodeur - 8
Winchester - 5
Kuba – 5
Kelly – 4
Carkner – 3
Lee – 1
Donovan – 1
Karlsson - 1
Yet it remains an imperfect barometer of how individual players are performing. Certainly guys like Chris Kelly, Chris Phillips, Erik Karlsson and Matt Carkner should have more points but the 3 Star system doesn't tend to reward guys who play steady game in and game out.
Who would have thought just a month ago that we would be saying that about Karlsson?
Along with the emergence of Peter Regin and the suddenly improved play of Nick Foligno, Karlsson's emergence has taken the pressure off Bryan Murray to pull off a trade in order to get this team over the hump.
I don't mean to say "I told you so" but I'm happy to point out the great play of Regin and re-state what I've said before: Regin has the skills to be the next David Krejci - a guy off everyone's radar who turns into a top-six forward seemingly overnight. Regin is going great guns now, but next year he should really make the leap.
A 7 game win streak has put the Senators in a position where missing the playoffs now seems like a distant worry. What they have going for them is that teams like the Rangers, the Bruins and the Habs haven't been able to get any consistency and there are no real signs that any of them will pull out of it.
Of course, injuries and a re-emergence of a goaltending controversy could derail any team and the Senators would be no different.
There is that nagging worry that the run Elliott is on is more of a blip rather than a future path. Elliott has impressed the heck out of everyone and he deserves all the accolades he's been getting. But it still seems to me that this team won't be for real until they get Pascal Leclaire back in a groove.
But if starting Elliott is working, why change it now? It's not like they have another choice at the moment anyways.
Regardless, this is a great time to be a Senators fan.
After almost two seasons worth of confusion and disappointment, this team is playing with heart, grit and passion and look just as close off the ice as they look syncopated on it.
The ticket sales may not be where they should be (and there are a lot of mitigating factors for that), but it's hard not to embrace this character group of guys. Win or lose, they always look like they care and a lot of credit needs to go to Cory Clouston.
I may not understand why he feels the need to change the lines up all the time, or why Jonathan Cheechoo skates instead of Shean Donovan, but he is getting the proper results and is on his way to making as much of an impact as Jacques Martin did when he showed up (with a moustache) from the Colorado organization and turned a laughingstock into a perennial playoff contender.
Since I've started this blog, the Senators have essentially went into the tank except for a brief stretch under John Paddock, but even during that run I spent most of the time berating him for overplaying the top line and sitting Ray Emery when he was finished rehabbing his wrist injury from the previous spring's Cup final.
Just when I take a short leave to focus on other priorities, the Senators start turning the tide. I'm almost afraid to start blogging again in case I curse the team and they start tumbling down the standings.
It would be refreshing to write about a team on the upswing for a change.
Let's see what unfolds....