Thursday, October 20, 2011
Andrew Ladd's Postcard Home
Ottawa 4 Winnipeg 1
OK, everyone. Back on the bandwagon. There's lots of room and we have eggrolls.
As Denis Potvin said at the end of the game, during the players-only meeting immediately after the Flyers debacle on Tuesday, the most vocal guys in the room were Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza, and then they went out and clearly led this team to a rare victory in the early going here.
It may not be Mark Messier in 1994 (here goes Milks with his Messier crap again), or even Mark Messier back in the 80's when he grabbed Reijo Ruotsalainen in the dressing room and threatened to send him back to Finland in a pine box if he didn't start working harder.
But it was good enough for October in Ottawa when the Sens badly needed a win to get the entire city off their backs for at least 24 hours of rare peace.
Craig Anderson looked like the confident goalie who pulled this team out of the basement last season when he came over from Colorado. He made 35 saves and was only beaten from the point on a double deflection that was shot by Dustin Byfuglien.
To say the Senators needed this win was a bit of an understatement. They were getting absolutely buried for two days on all the usual media outlets, being accused of blaming each other instead of taking responsibility and other such nonsense. Sounds like the entire team took responsibility in that meeting and it showed against the Jets.
Coach Paul MacLean had the whole team going and the ice times reflect that. Only Jesse Winchester, Stephane Da Costa and Peter Regin played less than 10 minutes and that's because Regin hurt his shoulder (yes, the bad one) and Winchester was playing his first game of the year after only a handful of practices taking body contact (thought he looked good as well).
Da Costa, despite getting some time on the first power-play unit, suddenly seems like he may be the odd man out if the Senators decide to keep Mika Zibanejad after the 9 game threshold. Da Costa can dangle as good as anyone on this team but he's been shrinking a little the past few games and you can almost smell a demotion coming. Regin's injury, if it's serious, may give him a reprieve but there are still too many bodies kicking around the roster and Nikita Filatov is going to have to get a chance to come up soon as well.
But if you don't like the weather... wait 5 minutes. We could be singing a different tune come Saturday. The stock of guys like Da Costa, Zibanejad and David Rundblad seem to fluctuate shift by shift because there have been so few games to really evaluate them. The most important thing to watch for is seeing if they are improving every game.
Zibanejad and Rundblad have both been getting better (especially Rundblad), but Da Costa might be regressing.
Now watch Da Costa rack a hat-trick against Columbus.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Craig Anderson
2. Milan Michalek
3. Jason Spezza
Honourable Mentions: Chris Phillips, Erik Karlsson, Colin Greening and Daniel Alfredsson.
Anne Murray was in the Kanata rink tonight, wearing the Senators heritage jersey. It's not exactly on par with the great Neil Young wearing the Jets jersey as he was pictured recently, but what is? ....Colin Greening is going to be scary good in a year or two when he really gets a proper feel for the league. It's actually strange to see a power forward on the Senators. This guy should have been a Bruin. Luckily for Ottawa fans, he's going to find a home here in town for a long time.... What will the Senators do in 5 years for their 25th anniversary? Will we get another retro jersey, maybe with the original 2-D logo? Have you ever seen a grown man beg?.... I thought it would bother me, but I don't mind the player numbers on the front of the helmet..... Don't look now, but Chris Phillips is playing pretty damn good. Played 22 minutes in a shutdown role and got more physical as the game ramped up. The old cliche - when you don't hear his name a lot, he's playing solid..... Haven't seen much of the Jets this season other than their first game, but Alexander Burmistrov is a lot of fun to watch. Sometimes there's nothing better in hockey than to watch a player who can really skate like that. Still, he's no Sergei Fedorov....They should make Canadian postcards with that image of Andrew Ladd sitting on the bench late in the 3rd with a bloody, swollen, broken nose and a tube stuck up one nostril. That's just as great to watch as a perfect skating stride. Anyone remember Oilers captain Jason Smith getting stitched up while standing in the hallway just behind the bench in the playoffs? Hockey is the only sport in the world where you'll see that kind of dedication (Some still think Curt Schilling put that blood on his sock himself. Not me, Sox fans, not me.).
….It’s time to pull out that old chestnut, “The 2006-2007 Senators started real slowly and look how good they did by the end of the year”. Same thing could happen right? Guys? Anybody?.... At this time last season, the Sens had a terrible record of 1-4-1 but then went on to win 8 of their next 11 games, including a 4 game winning streak in early November. The year they went to the final they were 2-4-0 by October 20 and went on a 5 game losing streak from Oct. 28 to Nov. 8, the last loss being against the Atlanta Thrashers, now your Winnipeg Jets….
… Is Zdeno Chara’s old number 3 retired in Ottawa? The only player to wear it after the Big Z departed in 2006 is the long forgotten Lawrence Nycholat for 3 games back in 2008. If Mark Borowiecki makes the team next season, he should snag it. Or else maybe big Eric Gryba will…. Who will be the first player to claim #12 after Mike Fisher’s departure? It’s a damn good number. Here’s a trivia question: Which player has worn the highest jersey number in team history? Answer will be buried somewhere below.….Olli Jokinen of the Flames says he now has a personal “mental coach” who he calls before every game to help him prepare, as reported by Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun. I’m not making fun of it, because I’m sure in 10 years every team will have a full-time “mental coach” (as opposed to mental coaches like Mike Keenan and John Tortorella), but can’t you just picture poor old Olli on the phone to a guy sitting at a desk reading a newspaper who is distractedly muttering “Yes, Olli, you can do it. Just go to a happy place, Olli. Just tap it in. Just..tap…it …in.”….
…Is this the year the Blue Jackets finally give up on Steve Mason? Maybe they need to get him Olli’s mental coach. Or maybe they should just fit the management team out for straight jackets. At some point the team will have to trade Rick Nash just out of common human decency. Or maybe they should just move across state to become the second incarnation of the Cleveland Barons. Every pro league needs a Cleveland….Trivia Answer: Stan Neckar, who wore #94 for a couple years in the mid-90’s. The next two highest numbers are Mika Zibanejad, currently wearing #93 and Alexandre Daigle who wore #91 (Daigle switched to #9 in 1998 when GM Pierre Gauthier decided that high numbers were no longer allowed in Ottawa because it set individuals off from the team. Mike Comrie was the first player to have a number over 70 after Daigle and that wasn’t until 2007. Nicky Foligno and Jarkko Ruutu soon followed suit with #71 and #73 respectively)...
…Just when I write something that says the Hockey News needs to diversify their editorial outlook - i.e. a writer who actually likes the more physical aspect of hockey - the latest issue features an article by Ryan Kennedy who goes on unashamedly about his love of fighting in the NHL. So I was proven wrong right away on that one. Figures. I happen to agree with Kennedy, and believe that fans shouldn’t be ashamed to let people know they like fighting in the NHL. That’s the game we grew up with, and it’s still a part of the game today. You may not be with the majority on the issue anymore (and you will get castigated for it in the NHL’s modern McCarthy era), but it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Enjoy it while it lasts…..
....Shane Hnidy, who is now doing radio work for the Jets after winning a Stanley Cup with Boston last year, is just the latest ex-Senator to find a job with the media upon retiring. He joins Jason York, Shaun Van Allen, Shean Donovan and Todd White, all of whom cover the Senators in various capacities. Ron Tugnutt also did a little work with Hockey Night In Canada a few years ago. One ex-Senator who we will likely never see doing media work? I'll put my money on ex-coach Jacques Martin. Wouldn't be surprised if way, way down the road we see Nick Foligno stepping behind a microphone.....Can't deny it. The Jets uniforms are incredible. I didn't like the logo when it was first revealed but it's grown on me, and to see it on the uniforms gives it a whole new dimension. I wouldn't say they're top 5 in the league, but they might be in the top 10. Just imagine how wild it will be in a few years when the Jets inevitably cash in on the old Jets look and reveal some kind of new heritage jersey like the Senators did this year. Fans will lose their freaking minds and empty their bank accounts. The Jets are just sitting on a goldmine and they know it. No need to mine it so quickly. When regular jersey sales lag, drop the heritage sweater and count the dollars.