Monday, October 18, 2010

Senators Spiral Further Down The Drain In Steeltown

Is it too early to hit rock bottom?

Obviously not, as the Ottawa Senators skated onto the ice in Pittsburgh for game 6 of their season looking like a team who knew they were going to lose, and they went ahead and did so in an embarrassing fashion.

There's no need to pile on any more here as there will be a lot of ink spilled and hair torn out all week long while the Senators wait an eternity to play again on Friday against the Sabres.

Clearly, there is a major problem here but there isn't much GM Bryan Murray can do to solve it right now. He can try and make a big trade but not many other teams are in panic mode just yet and still feel they have a chance with their current rosters.

It wouldn't be surprising to see a quick move by Murray to send Brian Lee down to Binghamton, even if it means there's a chance he gets plucked on waivers by somebody (not likely), and bring up David Hale who should have been on the roster from day one. I would be shocked if this doesn't happen, as Cory Clouston wouldn't even put Lee on the ice for most of the game after a meltdown shift in the second period. Hale would at least provide a bit more muscle back there, something this team is dying without.

As for the forwards, maybe Zack Smith bounces someone else to reserve squad but that won't make much of a difference.

They look beaten and it's only been six games.

I will warn people not to get too carried away this week in the ongoing Alex Kovalev bashing sweepstakes. This is not a defense of his play (he's been brutal, but much better against the Penguins), but it's foolish to think that benching Kovalev is going to make all of this team's problems go away. You could sit him and it won't make a lick of difference. Endlessly ripping the guy is not going to give the Senators the natural goal scorer they lack, it won't give them the speed they lack and it won't give them the toughness on defense that they don't have.

It's not just Kovalev, a fading superstar coming off major knee surgery. This team is just not in the right mindset to win games.

For the second time this season, we'll take a pass on awarding the Senators 3 Stars tonight.

The good news? Robin Lehner has now played parts of two games and has not given up a single goal. It's a small consolation for Senators fans, but a nice story all the same.


PvR said...

It is a nice story that Lehner did not give up a goal. I believe that the Pens were coasting to their win by that point but it leaves us something.

Anonymous said...

Just from scanning the blogs, it seems that Brian Lee's name keeps coming up as a scapegoat.

Seriously? Our #6 d-man who leads the team in +/- with a +2 is the problem.

The coaching staff had this guy, who is still young and developing, playing on his wrong side for most of the games. Every time he makes an error, even if it is benign, he's punished.

Meanwhile, Karlsson is -4. He's the worst on the team. He's also young and developing, and when he makes a mistake, they throw him back out there.

Matt Carkner and Chris Phillips are two years apart in age. Matt Carkner was in his contract year, last year. He was a career minor leaguer with two games of NHL experience. After seven games, Murray re-signed him to a two year one-way deal.

Meanwhile, Chris Phillips was drafted #1 overall in 1996. He has been a solid d-man throughout his career in Ottawa. He has been one of the cornerstones of a team that was extremely successful before Murray took over.

When Team Canada comes around looking to assemble a team, Phillips' name is still in the conversation. He's our assistant captain. He has won at the World Juniors. He has a winning pedigree with the Sens. I've always felt that he's always signed contracts that were below market value.

Why doesn't he have a contract yet? Why can Carkner get signed after seven games? What are the priorities? Why is any of this important?

It's important because it shows that the Sens have become a dysfunctional organization. They are not a meritocracy. They are not results oriented. That's the problem with this team.

It's dysfunctional. The players know it, they can feel it, and it's demoralizing.

They used to say that Phoenix was messed up because you had to be a FOG (friend of Gretzky) to get ahead. Well, in Ottawa, you need to be a FOM (friend of Murray).

Tim Murray, Luke Richardson, Greg Carvel, Matt Carkner, Jesse Winchester - these guys are safe.

Erik Karlsson, I love the player, but he needs to be brought along more slowly - but he's a FOM, so he's safe.

Brian Lee, they had him playing on the wrong side because they are trying to set him up to fail. They don't want him on this team. Every mistake will put him on the bench. He's toast.

Chris Phillips carries too many organizational memories of the way things were. They can see it in his eyes. Look at the pattern. He's the last remaining d-man from the Cup Final team. He should start packing his bags, he's toast.

If anyone wants any of this to change, write the team, and stop buying tickets.

Fire Murray now. He's done enough damage. We need a new atmosphere. Our core guys are still talented, but they need that dark cloud, that is the Bryan Murray era, to end.

Anonymous said...

In respomse to Anon above - your FOM analysis is right on. Lee will never get a fair shake from this regime, but I suspect this isn't unusual behaviour from a GM.

In the interests of being fair, however, I would like to point out, that much of the problems facing the organization were created during Muckler's reign of error. He let Chara walk. He also lost a lot of trades - Havlat, Brooks Laich, and a host of draft picks for nothing. Lastly, he poisoned the well - signing and trading Hossa for Heatley - a move that has resulted in every decent player demanding a no-trade clause before signing with this organization.

Murray has been far from perfect - so far, his trade record has been spotty and his free agent signings have been a disaster (Jason Smith, Kovalev and now maybe Gonchar). However, he has done a decent job of injecting some youth and prospects into an organization that had none.

That said, I suspect his time is up if the team doesn't turn this around in the next 20 games or so.

phil said...

2006-2007: sens go 2-4 in their first 6, and 8-11-1 in their first 20.

then we went to the finals.

Anonymous said...


If the circumstances were the same, I'd agree with you. The difference is that in 2006-07, the whole hockey world saw us as Cup contenders. There was no doubt that we were good team.

This time, most people in the hockey world see us as a bubble team to make the playoffs. Our performance may be a surprise to some fans, but many in the hockey world are not surprised. We're not as good as 2006-07, no matter how much Kool-Aid you want to drink.

If we fall too far behind, I don't see how we'll be able to catch up.

phil said...

yeaahhh, my comment wasn't meant to be dissected. as written in the post, enough ink spilled on the subject - let's just keep it positive and move on.

by the way - we turned it around in '06 when we threw in a young hotshot goaltender. sounds familliiaarr!