Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Backhander: A Few Quick Game Day Notes

A nice piece of writing by the Citizen’s Wayne Scanlan on Ottawa’s defense prospects going forward:

“A few years down the road, as the prospects mature, the Senators envision a large, physically imposing defence corps, with Erik Karlsson, of course, dancing among the giants.”

That paints quite the picture, although it brings to mind Karlsson in an elf outfit somehow.

... Gotta say I’m looking forward to the day Eric Gryba gets his shot to play in Ottawa. I thought he looked ready a few training camps ago, but it sounds like that’s just happening now. Ottawa has had a lot of “elves” on their third defense pairing over the years, not necessarily in size (Brian Lee was a pretty big man) but more in their style of play. Chris Campoli, Brian Pothier, Alexandre Picard and Tom Preissing. They could all skate and make plays but in the end, didn’t really make their mark and were considered disposable. A guy like Gryba, much like Matt Carkner before him, will provide an unmistakeable presence back there if he can manage the jump and get comfortable. As they say it, it takes different ingredients to bake a cake. Too much of the same kind of player can get a little tiresome to watch ...

... It’s a tough business. The clock is already ticking down on Guillaume Latendresse and he’s barely had a chance to get in shape. Although some would say that’s his problem in the first place. The reality for Latendresse is that Mika Zibanejad is knocking on the door and the organization would gladly throw over a lot of people in order not to impede Zibanejad’s progress. Same situation for Mark Stone when he's deemed ready. If it means eating a little crow on a no-risk free agent signing like Latendresse, the Sens will gladly make room for their strong group of forward rookies. In the meantime, Zack Smith and Colin Greening are doing a much better job at providing size and toughness on the top two lines whenever they’ve gotten a chance to. Latendresse still seems to be in a fog right now. Chances are, Latendresse will find his wheels and start getting a few goals here. Injuries will provide him that lineup spot as long as he can stay healthy himself, but if it comes down to him and Zibanejad, all things being equal, the Swedish rookie will get the nod. Nobody wants to see another Jonathan Cheechoo scenario in Ottawa, so Latendresse needs to start making a difference soon ....

... I’ve heard some complaints about the quality of hockey so far this season and I’ve seen a few bland games myself, but in theory, shouldn’t these games be more high scoring and exciting if a lot of the stars are in shape (from playing in Europe) while the lower-end guys struggle to get back in game shape? Truth is, the smothering systems and ridiculously huge goalie equipment can overcome any kind of adversity you throw at the game. I still can’t believe how much this league coddles the goalie fraternity and lets them subvert the spirit of the game. Someone needs to implement a good old fashioned scorched earth policy and shrink these goalies back to at least early 90’s size. It might not make too much of a difference on a behemoth like Anders Lindback or Ben Bishop but it will certainly add some goals to the game. I don’t care how many times people say they love 1-1 ties as long as they’re well fought. High scoring hockey is just better. Hopefully we see two pretty high octane teams in Washington and Ottawa open it up tonight.

No comments: