Saturday, October 9, 2010
Senators Look Lost Against Leafs
What a mess.
The Senators have now dropped 5 games in a row to the Leafs dating back to last season but the loss tonight was a new low in what is quickly becoming a tradition of playing terrible when featured on Hockey Night In Canada in front of a national audience.
We get to hear cliche opinions about the Senators reinforced by nodding analysts like Glen Healey who have seen this Senators style all too many times.
Like Jason Spezza giving the puck away behind his own net for a crucial first goal. Like Alex Kovalev floating around the ice barely touching the puck. Like the Senators being pushed around (until they decided to fight back in the third period).
One we haven't heard before is the Senators are too slow, but that seems to be the case so far this season. It's only been two games (on back to back nights no less), but the Senators look completely unprepared to compete.
That's the basics of it. They look slow, they look disorganized and they look dispirited. Pascal Leclaire gave them a chance in the first game against Buffalo but even he couldn't keep his woeful team in the game tonight.
What are the reasons?
You could point to a few likely suspects. A ridiculous pre-season schedule of 8 games which included a back-to-back on a Friday and Saturday night against the Rangers last weekend which forced the team to play mostly veterans two nights in a row, something that should never have to happen in the meaningless pre-season.
Then they were taken to a military boot camp for team bonding, but which, as Sun columnist Don Brennan pointed out, consisted mostly of brutal physical endurance tests for the sake of team bonding. Fine. The players seemed to enjoy it, at least publicly.
Then Spezza pulls his groin shortly after and the lines get thrown out and reassembled. They go into their first game without much practice in the new combinations, and it's not much of a surprise that the best line was the only one they kept together - the third with Chris Kelly, Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu.
Watching the first two games, it simply looks like the team has no legs. They have zero jump and they can't execute special teams play.
The fact that they have to go right to Washington and do it again on Monday night may be a blessing or a curse. It doesn't give them much, if any practice time (with Sunday likely being a day off) but it at least offers them an opportunity to forget about the Toronto-HNIC debacle rather quickly.
There is no need for Senators fans to start inundating call-in shows with panicked phone calls demanding firings and benchings and trades. The team will get better. They have too many quality players and a smart coaching staff for that not to happen. But it really puts them in a bad situation against a Washington team that just went out and put up a 7 spot on the New Jersey Devils tonight. The Senators will be hard pressed to avoid going down 0-3 to start the season.
Obviously, we won't be going through the motions of offering you the Black Aces Senators Three Stars of the night.
Enjoy your Sunday and Happy Thanksgiving.