Monday, December 31, 2007

Pens and Sabres To Wear Vintage Uniforms

Here's a look at the Pens. Nice stuff.

Cujo to Sens? According To Eklund...

This is probably the shallowest reason for a post, especially since the source is Eklund, but he is reporting that the Sens and Leafs are competing to sign Curtis Joseph with the Sens having a slight edge. Cujo just led the Canadian team to the Spengler Cup so at least his value has shot up in GM's eyes.

But this scenario seems unlikely in the Sens case. I don't think Ray Emery is going anywhere despite the media and the fan base ready to run him out of town.

He's simply too good, despite some of the overblown hype around his personality.

But look for Cujo to surface somewhere.

Maybe Tampa? Pittsburgh? Toronto?

Brooks Fights The Hockey Police On Orr Hit

Interesting article yesterday from the ever vigilant Larry Brooks of the NY Post on Colton Orr's controversial hit on Matt Cullen of the Hurricanes.

From The NY Post:
"The hockey police were at it again this week, fretting and fussing because of injuries sustained by Matt Cullen as a result of an open-ice check he took from Colton Orr at the Garden on Wednesday while cutting across the Rangers zone carrying the puck with his head down.

It was not a hit to the head. It was not an illegal hit, either, despite the illegitimate decision by the four-man officiating crew that originally made no call, but upon seeing Cullen flat on the ice and briefly unconscious, then took the cowardly way out and gave Orr a five-minute major for interference after a lengthy caucus.

NHL VP Colin Campbell's decision not to suspend Orr after a review of the video is evidence enough that no foul had been committed in the collision. Regardless, we were inundated again in the play's aftermath by pleas from the pseudo-intelligentsia for the restoration of "respect" between players; about how even if the check was legal, it was somehow unethical. "

Here's the hit and the ensuing aftermath.

Chris Neil Wins The Fist Eating Contest

That was quite the scrap Saturday night between Chris Neil and Donald Brashear. A lot of people in Ottawa are complaining that Brashear rejected Brian McGrattan as a dance partner early in the game, but that was probably due to the fact that it was early in a close contest rather than Brashear being afraid of Gratts. Honestly, do you think a man beast like Brashear is afraid of anyone?

But Brashear has always been a bit of a cherry picker. Remember the time back in the early 2000's when Brashear was with Philly and just started pummelling on a defenseless Chris Phillips? That was brutal.

Kudos to Neil for standing in there for that hellish barrage.

With all that being said, McGrattan issued a public challenge today for Brashear which will be hard for the Cap fighter to dodge.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Emery Situation Boils Over

Well, as you know, I’ve been defending Ray Emery for a long time on this blog, and I still believe that he should be the man between the pipes for the Senators, despite the great play of Martin Gerber this year. Gerber has worked hard for his success and deserves all the accolades right now but I’m not convinced you want to go into a pressure filled game seven with the mentally fragile Gerber while the ultra-competitive and proven commodity of Ray Emery sits on the bench.

But when captain Daniel Alfredsson feels the need to publicly call out Emery because he’s not working hard enough, it becomes hard for me to defend him anymore.

If you haven’t heard, Emery had a major fit at the end of the game-day skate yesterday before the tilt with the Islanders, smashing his stick and throwing it into the stands (ala Mats Sundin). When John Paddock called out Emery earlier in the year for not working hard in practice, I took it with a grain of salt. Perhaps it was just Paddock’s way of trying to light a fire under him.

Now, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, Alfie had this to say about Emery:

"To get considered for a start, (the coaching staff) is looking for (Emery) to show that he wants to be in there," said Alfredsson, who didn't see the incident. "You have to work hard in practice to show that you want to play. That's what most players do when they're not playing and the goalies are no different."

Rarely, if ever, has Alfredsson called out a teammate on the record. I’m sure he’s had his issues with some in the past, but being the captain, we can assume he took care of it privately. The fact that Alfie felt the need to say this publicly probably means that all other avenues of communication have either failed or been cut off completely.

That’s not good news. For the team or for Emery.

It might mean that Emery will demand a trade to a team where he can actually get some starts and that would put GM Bryan Murray in a bind. Murray saw first hand what a healthy and motivated Ray Emery can do. But now he might be forced to choose between the two goalies to ensure the harmony of the dressing room and that won’t be an easy choice, despite the almost certain public support of Gerber.

Ottawa, despite being the fourth largest city in the country, and a national capital, is largely conservative and low-key and Martin Gerber’s personality is a lot easier for the average public servant mowing down Ruffles in his townhouse in Kanata to relate to. Emery seems like he’s from outer space to these people with his Hummer and his sharp clothes. They instinctively root for Gerber, despite all hockey logic, because he doesn’t scare them. This town once embraced Patrick Lalime as well before his historic meltdown against the Leafs in 2004.

While everyone might be ready to run Emery out of town on the next bus, it’s important to keep perspective.

Nobody wants another Lalime moment when the chips are down.

If Emery can take Alfie’s advice and turn his head around, the Sens might find themselves with a goalie who has something to prove. If he can’t, then he should start packing his bags right now.
And Senators fans can start praying that Gerber doesn’t turn into another Lalime.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ray Emery Loses It At Practice

From TSN:

"Ray Emery, who has started just two games in the last eight, vented some frustration with his lack of playing time today. As he was leaving the ice, Emery slammed his stick on the boards then swung his stick, taking out the water bottles on top of the boards. As he was leaving, he hurled his stick into the stands. Neither general manager Bryan Murray nor head coach John Paddock had any comment on the incident saying they didn't see it take place. Murray said he wanted to speak with Emery after practice but that the goalie had left before he had a chance to speak with him... Martin Gerber will get the start in goal tonight when they host the Islanders. "

Don Cherry Goes On A Right-Wing Nutjob Rampage

William Houston of the Globe and Mail has a very funny but all-too scary article on Don Cherry's antics during last Saturday's Coaches Corner on HNIC.

In just 5 minutes, Cherry was putting the flamethrower to Native Canadians, David Suzuki and environmental activist Andrew Ference in a rant that would make even Bill O'Reilly of Fox News blush.


"They struggled on, showing clips from a game between the Penguins and Boston Bruins. Cherry then referred to "a left winger" on the Bruins as "Dr. Suzuki."

The player in question was Andrew Ference, who initiated an environmental program for the Bruins and spends his off-seasons working with children in developing countries. Hockey Night ran a feature on Ference on Dec. 15.

Ference is a defencemen, but in the context of Cherry's politics and ideology, he's a left winger in the mould of famed Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki.

"That was sickening last week by the way," Cherry said of the Ference feature.

"What?" MacLean said. "What is going on with you here?"

"What is this stuff?" Cherry asked. "It's Hockey Night in Canada. And we're talking about saving the world and all that stuff. Let's talk about hockey."

Of course, Cherry talks about subjects unrelated to hockey all the time: fallen police officers, firefighters, members of the military.

At the start of Saturday's segment, he reminded viewers of the real meaning of Christmas: the birth of "baby Jesus. "


Now, I actually find Cherry to be amusing most of the time but he crossed the line by trying to denigrate a player who has the audacity to be an environmentalist.

So let's get this straight. Don Cherry over the years has now insulted the following people:



Native Canadians

French Canadians

David Suzuki!!!!


Players who are environmentalists


Players who wear visors

So who hasn't he insulted?

Stephen Harper

Baby Jesus

Tie Domi

Darcy Tucker

Who will the Cherry hammer fall on next?

Mother Theresa?

If you are white, vote Conservative and are a Christian, you're probably safe.

If not, run for cover.

Brought to you by a federal institution (CBC) payed for by all the taxpayers.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Xmas From Black Aces - TSN Top Tens Galore

Black Aces will be taking a short break for the holiday season and should be back on the 27th or the 28th. In the meantime, enjoy these Top Ten videos from TSN, starting off with the top 10 goals from the player of the year, Sidney Crosby.

Top Ten Plays of 06-07

Top Ten Hits of 06-07

Top Ten Coaches Rants

Top Ten Stadium Delays

Friday, December 21, 2007

Vermette Crumbles, Gaborik Dominates, Marilyn Monroe Shags

After losing to Atlanta last night, coach John Paddock was severely pissed with his revamped second line of Antoine Vermette, Chris Kelly and Daniel Alfredsson.

Well, he was mostly unhappy with Vermette and Kelly, though he didn't mention them by name.

"I had to put Alfredsson back with Heatley and Spezza," said Paddock. "There was no way he was getting a goal if I didn't. He wouldn't have got a scoring chance otherwise."

"Some guys here want ice time, more responsibility with guys being hurt. But they're not coming close to living up to it."

Vermette lost almost every faceoff he took last night and is not showing any signs of that breakout offensive season that everyone expected of him.

He's kind of like the Maxim Afinogenov of four seasons ago. All speed, all flash but still going home alone. Afinogenov got his offensive game in gear eventually but fans of the Ottawa Senators might have to accept the fact that Vermette will be a solid and speedy third liner for the rest of his career.


It was great to see Marion Gaborik break out with five goals and six points last night against the Rangers. Don't let anyone tell you that goal scoring is not what gets fans excited. The crowd in Minny last night almost blew the roof off when Gaborik got his third goal for the hat trick. The decibel level just increased after his next two goals.

When Gaborik was stoned by Stephen Valiquette on a 5-on-3 power play chance for his sixth goal, I thought the speakers were going to break on my television.

The players actually carried Gaborik off the ice to a chanting crowd. The Kennedy brothers were still taking turns shagging Marilyn Monroe the last time that happened in the NHL.

That's what the league needs more of.

Not 2-1 close checking games that only masochists and narcoleptics can endure.

They need star players like Gaborik scoring goals and having a chance at becoming legends.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Old NHL Is Back. Is Anyone Surprised?

Morris Dalla-Costa pens a very important piece here about how clutch and grab hockey is back and the fans are the ones who have to suffer through this crap simply because the NHL and its officiating department can't do anything consistently for more than a season or two.

"There has been a noticeable increase in restraining fouls that go unpunished. There has been an increase in what is termed game management by officials. That means, depending on the situation, a penalty that is called at one point may not be called later in the game.

That goes back to the ridiculous notion that no matter what a player does late in a close game, no penalty should be called so that "players can decide a game, not the referees."

No doubt this turn of events is making Ron Maclean over at Hockey Night In Canada very happy. In fact, it probably makes many in the Canadian hockey media establishment very happy as well.

In my mind, we had only one year of exceptional hockey under the new rules and that was in 05-06. Last year we saw it slip and this season it's back to rewarding the mediocre and the slow footed, just like it was back in the dirty late 90's and early 00's.

The NHL pays lip service to the fact that it wants more goals and more excitement, yet they still allow goalies like Roberto Luongo, Martin Gerber and Dwayne Roloson to wear ridiculously huge gear, especially on their shoulders.

Now they're letting the obstruction go. What's next? Maybe the toe-in-the-crease rule? If a goalie even gets touched nowadays, the play-by-play and colour commentators start complaining about how goalies are getting run.

Why do we glorify the goalie so much anyways? We used to call goalie equipment "the tools of ignorance" and now mediocre to terrible goalies like Dwayne Roloson get more press than the Ales Hemsky's and the Sam Gagner's.

Enough is enough. Shrink the equipment. Reinstall the obstruction standard. And let's make all penalties a full two-minutes regardless if the power-play team scores or not while we're at it.

If the game is ever going to grow in the USA (don't listen to the Canadian media elite who says it's not important) goal scoring needs to go up. Big time.

I didn't hear anyone complaining about the game in the 80's when there were sometimes 10 goals scored in a game. From what I remember, that was some of the best and most exciting hockey ever played.

Sean Avery, Black Nail Polish and the Olsen Twins

From the NY Times: A short, must-read for fans and enemies alike of Sean Avery.

I’d rather hang myself than talk about sports,” Mr. Avery said. He turned the conversation to the New Museum of Contemporary Art downtown.

His friends ribbed him about his unjock-like sensibilities, most visible in his usual fashion palette: black, highlighted by accents of black.

“I’m a dark guy,” Mr. Avery said. “I like that funereal feel.

Not since Ron Duguay and his perm has New York seen a Ranger like this dude.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Who's Coming To Ottawa?

It’s the elephant in the room. The Ottawa Senators need another top-six forward, at least according to GM Bryan Murray who has openly said this to the media. That’s a nice tidy phrase, top-six forward, but in reality, what kind of players can be considered to be available and on top of that, what kind of player can you get when you obviously don’t want to part with any of your own top-six forwards?


Here are some likely candidates from around the league, taking into consideration salary, availability, contract status and common sense. For instance, the Senators aren’t going to pry away Martin St. Louis from Tampa Bay for many reasons, but they might be able to get a Marian Hossa. Two elite players. Two vastly different situations.

Let’s have a look.

Marian Hossa – This deal seems highly unlikely but it’s possible because Hossa is an unrestricted free agent and the Thrashers are probably a bubble playoff team with the chance of sinking out of contention. The cost would be astronomical because Hossa will be sought after highly by any number of contenders including the St. Louis Blues, New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks. Even Edmonton is a possibility with Jarret Stoll as bait. But he would be a nice fit with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. Actually those three talents together would bring the apocalypse upon the rest of the league.

Mike Comrie – Seriously. If the Islanders continue to tank (and I don’t think they will) Comrie all of a sudden becomes a rental player because of his one year contract. Comrie won over a lot of people with his surprisingly scrappy play and we all know he has the skill to be a number 2 centre. Is it possible? He could be had for considerably cheaper than most other top forwards.

Ruslan Fedotenko – The Islander may be having a slow year but he has shown in the past that he can score big goals in the playoffs as he helped the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004. Also an unrestricted free agent.

J.P. Dumont – Another player having an off year who has shown he can score in the past. If the Predators fall on hard times, Dumont will be signed or shipped off somewhere.

Jarret Stoll – There’s no way this guy should be struggling but he is. There is too much potential to be tapped here and his contract is up at the end of this season.

Geoff Sanderson – Having a woeful year but still has speed. Probably not a top-six forward but his goal scoring skills are tempting. He could thrive with the right linemates.

Patrick Marleau - Just go down two posts to see why I think he'll be available and a good fit in Ottawa.

Andrew Brunette – Scored 83 points last year. Unrestricted next season. Only available if Colorado plummets.

Sergei Fedorov – If a sure-fire Hall Of Famer becomes available, it would be prudent to kick the tires. Fedorov has gotten a bad rap lately but he can still skate like the wind and is great at all facets of the game. Fedorov would be a major boost to the Senators powerplay, either as point man on the first unit or a centreman on the second. His salary is huge but manageable come February. Unrestricted next year. Columbus would let him go for a solid prospect because they know they’re not in a position to win a Cup this season despite their improved play under Ken Hitchcock.

I have to say, out of all these players, the three best short-term players for the Senators would be, obviously, Marian Hossa and Patrick Marleau and, surprisingly, Sergei Fedorov.

If Peter Forsberg miraculously recovers and wants to play in Ottawa, then all bets are off.

Feel free to suggest any other players I might have missed.

Loving The Shootout

If anyone had the chance to watch the Detroit-Washington tilt last night, you would have been treated to a great game and an even better shootout.

The moves that Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler put on Olaf Kolzig were freaking sick. All three scored on perfect dekes and all on the backhand. They’re still looking for Kolzig’s groin which is probably hanging from the rafters.

It was also strange to see new Caps coach Bruce Boudreau put Alex Ovechkin in the third shootout slot after Viktor Kozlov and Alex Semin. As it turns out, Ovechkin never got a chance to shoot and the Caps lost the game. Mike Babcock on the other hand made sure that his two most skilled players in Datsyuk and Zetterberg got in there right away to put down the hammer.

Another note: Semin came in and put one high on Dominik Hasek, popping the water bottle into the air like an exclamation point. Visually, the water bottle getting popped like that is great but unfortunately, the NHL has made a new rule that all water bottles have to be placed in a holder that sits at the back portion of the net to ensure that it doesn’t obscure the overhead camera during a disputed goal. That means we won’t be seeing that bottle flying too much anymore but thankfully for the viewers, Hasek was breaking the rules during the shootout.

Remember the shootout goal that Sidney Crosby scored during his rookie year against Montreal? That water bottle flying in the air was perhaps more memorable than the nifty deke that Crosby laid down.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Would Patrick Marleau Be A Good Fit On Ottawa’s Second Line?

With the injury to Mike Fisher, it looks like Chris Kelly will get the chance to play with Daniel Alfredsson and Antoine Vermette on Ottawa’s revamped second line.

But long-term, is a healthy Mike Fisher and Kelly really the solution Ottawa is looking for?

I doubt it. In all honesty, Fisher isn’t consistent enough offensively to offer the secondary scoring that will be needed in the playoffs when teams target Jason Spezza for shutdown. Fisher is a valuable asset for the Senators, but probably best suited for a third line banging role.

Kelly is basically a penalty kill specialist and Vermette has never been consistent in the scoring department.

So it seems like a trade is necessary, especially after Ottawa could no longer afford the services of Mike Comrie who would probably be a perfect fit to play with Alfie on the second line right about now. Over in San Jose, the dilemma is the sub-par play of captain and number two centre Patrick Marleau. There all kinds of rumours that Marleau doesn’t get along with head coach Ron Wilson, especially after Wilson seemed to target Marleau for San Jose’s losses in recent playoffs.

Could a trade be worked out that would be beneficial to both teams? Probably, but it would mean that Ottawa would have to give up on one young roster player and a decent prospect.

So who would San Jose demand in a trade for Marleau? Probably Antoine Vermette and another young centre like Ilya Zubov or Alex Nikulin from Bingo. Or maybe even Patrick Eaves even though San Jose has plenty of wingers in the same mould. It’s entirely possible that Ottawa may try to offer Chris Kelly instead of Vermette because of Kelly’s contract situation but San Jose already has a player like Kelly in Mike Grier. They would definitely need someone with more offensive potential, and who on Ottawa is more synonymous with potential than Antoine Vermette?

In today’s Ottawa Sun, Bruce Garrioch talks about the chance that Vermette has to show his stuff with Fisher out of the lineup, but haven’t we heard that many times before?

Perhaps all Vermette needs to blossom into a scoring threat is better ice time and he would probably get that in San Jose taking over Marleau’s minutes.

On the other hand, Marleau would bring plenty of blazing speed to Ottawa and would seem like the perfect fit for a guy like Alfredsson.

But who really knows if such a deal is possible. Not too long ago, Marleau was considered the franchise player for the Sharks and letting him go would leave a contender a big hole to fill on their second line. Is Vermette worth a gamble for the Wilsons in San Jose?

We’ll see soon enough.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Walker Gets A Game, Fisher Earns Respect

Scott Walker of the Carolina Hurricanes only got one game for a headbutt to Mike Fisher which is a break from NHL standards, as pointed out by Al Strachan on last night's broadcast of The Spin. Strachan says the NHL standard has always been 3 games for a headbutt and so we are now getting more mixed signals from head of discipline Colin Campbell in a season where the NHL has come down hard on head shots.

People are always complaining that the NHL needs new blood in the commissioners office but perhaps what's needed is a replacement for Campbell. Maybe the NHL needs a guy who wasn't a player or a coach. Someone who can look at discipline more objectively and without the stigma of being part of the old boys network.

Regardless of the suspension, Mike Fisher showed some much needed toughness for a Senators squad that has been accused in the past of not sticking up for each other. Perhaps that stigma is old and outdated, but many people around the league still view Ottawa as a middling physical team with too much skill and not enough brawn. Walker clearly ran Martin Gerber and Fisher responded. Good on him even if he lost a couple of chiclets from the headbutt.

Speaking of toughness, Brian McGrattan took on legendary enforcer Georges Laraque last night and came out of it with a sprained shoulder. No word yet on whether the Senators will be calling someone up from Bingo to replace him. Doesn't it always seem like everyone who tangles with Laraque gets hurt somehow? Laraque is an absolute powerhouse and is one of a long line of heart and soul players that Edmonton dispatched in recent memory, including Ryan Smyth and Jason Smith. Laraque was a big part of the Edmonton community through his charity work and his one-time radio show and desperately wanted to stay in the blue and copper uniform. When someone is the best at what they do, you don't get rid of them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Penguins In Goalie Trouble And A Few Choice F-Bombs After The Game

Word comes down that Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury may be out of action for up to two months, which leaves Dany Sabourin and Ty Conklin to mind the twine for the time being.

That doesn't sound good for Pens fans, especially after Philly laid a severe beating on them last night in a game that included 156 PIM's and accusations by Penguin coach Michel Therrien that the Flyers were running up the score.

It gets better. Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Ben Eager of the Flyers passed Therrien in the hallway and said to him "You're a joke."

The F-bombs started flying back and forth.

Now that's entertainment.

Incidentally, Dany Sabourin gets the start for the Pens against Ottawa on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Don't Burn Your Retinas - Vintage NHL Commercials

Here's a quick collection of the good, the bad and the ugly of NHL advertising, whether it's ads by the league itself or prominent NHLers doffing products for other companies.

Let's start it off with the abhorrent crew of New York Rangers from the 70's doing a Vidal Sasson ad. Phil Esposito, Ron Duguay, Anders Hedberg etc. Utterly revolting yet compulsively watchable.

Tastes Great Mom!

Can I See Some ID Please Rob Ray

Adam Oates As A Sleazebag Nice marketing move.

You Don't Have To Be Sweet To Be Good Hextall crushes a paper puck.

Go To Hell Shanahan You Freak

Mess and Gretz

Gretzky and puppy dogs

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hasek Still The Best Euro Ever

The most recent edition of the Hockey News carried a picture of Detroit Red Wing defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom on the cover proclaiming him to be the best European ever. It’s hard to argue, but let’s do it anyways.

I would rank Lidstrom as the 3rd best Euro ever behind number one Dominik Hasek and number two Jaromir Jagr.

Let’s look at the reasons why:

Dominik Hasek.

Has there ever been a more dominant goaltender in his prime than Hasek while he was with Buffalo? Hasek took over the number one job in Buffalo in 93-94 and kept it until he was traded to Detroit in 2001-02 were he won his one and only Stanley Cup with, ironically, Nicklas Lidstrom (who, in his favour, has 3 Cups on his resume). But those Buffalo teams were a lot weaker than Detroit had during the same period, yet Hasek racked up these accolades:

2 straight Hart Trophies for MVP in 97 and 98

6 Vezina Trophies including three straight from 97-99

6 NHL First All-Star team selections

2 Lester B. Pearson awards as the MVP voted upon by the players

1 Stanley Cup

Jaromir Jagr

Jagr was THE dominant offensive force of the mid to late 90’s and on into the 00’s. The mantle was passed from Wayne Gretzky to Mario Lemieux to Jagr and he didn’t dissapoint.

5 Art Ross Trophies as leading scorer including four straight from 98 to 01

1 Hart Trophy

7 NHL First All-Star team selections

3 Lester B. Pearson awards

2 Stanley Cups

Nicklas Lidstrom

Nick has had a brilliant Hall of Fame career and deserves all the accolades, including one time teammate and captain Steve Yzerman calling him “the best player in the world”.

7 NHL First All-Star team selections

4 Norris Trophies

1 Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs

3 Stanley Cups

That’s nothing to sneeze at and perhaps he will wind up having a better overall career than Hasek, but as for pure dominance and effect on the league, I still say that Hasek and Jagr were a notch above him. But not much.

It may be that people are too affected by the current play of the three stars. Hasek is winding down his career (which started late anyways) with the Red Wings and is not as good as he was in his prime. The same can be said for Jagr even though he notched over 100 points last year.

But if you had to have only one Euro player in his prime, wouldn’t you choose Hasek or Jagr over Lidstrom? Maybe you wouldn’t but that’s a choice we’ll never get to make.

Regardless, all three have been great to watch over the years.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Roy/Brodeur Myth

With the Ottawa Senators in the midst of a goaltending controversy, all sorts of half-truths, cliches and myths are starting to take hold among their fanbase. You can hear it everyday if you subject yourself to the torture that is the Team 1200 and sit through the countless emails and phone calls from the passionate but mentally lazy fans.

The latest myth to take hold is that teams need a Martin Brodeur or a Patrick Roy to win a Stanley Cup. I counted at least three emails read over the air in the past two days that stated the same thing, with all three concluding that the Senators will never win a Stanley Cup because they don’t have a goalie similar to the two legends.

Cliches and myths are replacements for independent, rational and logical thought. Just a brief, cursory glimpse at some of the past Stanley Cup winning goalies completely destroys the notion that so many fans hold to be true.

Jean Sebastien Giguere won the Cup last year with Anaheim. The year before that, rookie Cam Ward won the Stanley Cup with Carolina. Nikolai Khabibulin won a Stanley Cup for Tampa in 2004. Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon each won a Cup for Detroit in the late 90’s.

None of the above mentioned goalies will be Hall of Famer's.
Come on. It's not rocket science. It's called looking at an NHL guide book where they keep things like that on record. Or maybe just try using your long-term memory.

Therefore, despite the loud wails of ignorant fans whose grasp of hockey history extends as far back as the Senators last game, it is entirely possible that one of Ray Emery or Martin Gerber can lead a team to a Stanley Cup.

The pads the goalies wear today are big enough that even Calista Flockhart could lead a team to a Stanley Cup just by standing there.

So if you’re one of those out there who constantly emails the radio show with the Roy/Brodeur myth, please, for the love of everything good and decent, stop.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

William Houston versus Hockey Night In Canada

The dinosaur mentality over at HNIC has really been grating on the Globe's William Houston lately and he comes out with some solid stat proof that shows Ron Maclean doesn't know what he's talking about when he says the obstruction crackdown has had no positive effect on the game.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sens Game Day : Fear and Loathing In South Florida

Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers wants teams to be afraid to come into South Florida for hockey games.

''You want to create an atmosphere where people have a little fear to come to South Florida,'' said captain Olli Jokinen, who has scored 17 of his 26 points at home. ``We've been good at home the last couple of years. We just need to make sure teams stay on Fort Lauderdale beach or South Beach whenever they come here. We have to make sure they're out doing stuff before the games.''

Now that the cocaine wars of the 80's are over, Miami seems to be a pretty sedate place nowadays, where the only thing to fear is a hanging chad and the fact that Jeb Bush is still running the state.

Only three teams have fewer points than Florida's 25 and they are a game above .500 at home. Yet they're only 3 points behind the Leafs for the final playoff spot in the East. They're the very definition of a bubble team right now.
They've lost two games in a row and Ottawa has beaten them the last 5 times they played.
But the way things are going in Ottawa, don't bet the house on either side.

Bingo's Allright

Ottawa Senators prospect Jeff Glass was named the AHL Goaltender of the month and Denis Hamel was named the AHL player of the week. Hamel has 16 goals in 22 games.

Not bad, Bingo, not bad.

Senators, Emery Show Some Fight - Still Lose

The losing streak continues but at least the Senators seemed to finally wake up out of a weeks long slumber in the third period of last night's tilt in Tampa, right around the time that Ray Emery decided he'd had enough and tried to cut Mathieu Darche in two with his stick.

For some reason that seemed to spark the team and they stormed back thanks to Daniel Alfredsson's two goals and an assist which will certainly improve his Hart Trophy candidacy.

I thought Emery rebounded nicely from his last mediocre start and he looks like he's got the fire back. That can only mean good things for the Senators in the games to come. Emery is already slated to start tonight against Florida and that's the first wise move coach John Paddock has made in a while. Getting Emery back into a rhythm is a must for this team, as Martin Gerber has already proved that he can play well after sitting for multiple games. Emery is more of a guy who needs to see big minutes to get rolling.

Unfortunately for the Senators, Wade Redden continues to wither before our very eyes. His giveaway for Tampa's first goal was so egregious, that he's beginning to "wade" into Bryan McCabe territory. Sure, he got the goal back in the third period by driving to the net but he was single-handedly responsible for getting the team off to a poor start with that initial blunder. It's so bizarre to see such a rock steady defenseman and smart hockey player fall by the wayside like that.

It's not just the tighter sweaters. Wade Redden seems so much smaller than he used to be and the intensity level just isn't there anymore. Christoph Schubert also made some mistakes but he's not expected to play at a level like Redden is, especially after playing forward for over two seasons.

It's hard to dissect a shootout too closely (and probably not wise or useful) but there are some things worth noting:

Dany Heatley just isn't good in the shootout and never has been. That's fine. It's a mystery but that happens. Paddock should look elsewhere for that slot. At least he's now using Jason Spezza in the breakaways after last year's coach Bryan Murray neglected to use him much. Spezza can deke and that's a big advantage. Heatley is more of a shooter and gets most of his goals by releasing a quick shot before goalies can get in position. In the shootout, the goalie is in the best possible position and Heatley is not a fancy deker so he has a tough time of it.

Antoine Vermette can dangle with the best of them but he often finds ways to miss the crucial goal, whether in the shootout or in the game. He just doesn't seem to have that clutch ability, for all his skills and speed.

Emery has never been a good shootout goalie but he won't have to deal with them come April anyways.

But all in all, whether it was Emery blowing his cool and showing some much needed fire, or if it was just stellar leader Daniel Alfredsson dragging them along by the short hairs, the Senators showed some fight and we'll see if that carries over into tonights tilt against the Panthers.

Old friend Jacques "No Comment" Martin lies in wait. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sens Game Day: The Tampa Perspective - Water Bottle Blues

"While it was easy to take the bottles out of the sleeve, it became difficult for goaltenders, who are bogged down with gloves and straps on each hand, to get the bottle back into the sleeve without undoing either their blocker or catching glove.

"It would take too much time to get it out and put it back in because the holder was so tight, so I really didn't have time to drink between whistles," Lightning goaltender Johan Holmqvist said.

Given the time constraints, Holmqvist would end up skipping out on taking a quick swig of water before getting ready for a faceoff. And for a player like Holmqvist, who is constantly hydrating himself before a game and sweats profusely during the game, every ounce of water is required to keep him hydrated. "

There's other pressing issues in Lightning land as well. Just like Ottawa, the team is looking for secondary scoring from someone other than their top line of Vincent Lecavalier, Vinny Prospal and Martin St. Louis.

Chris Gratton hasn't scored in 20 games and free agent signee Michell Ouellet was a healthy scratch Saturday night and might be tonight as well.

On the Ottawa side of the ledger, Randy Robitaille is going to get a chance to play on the top line with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. If this doesn't get the underachieving winger (nee invisible) going, then this guy should be the first to ride the pine once the team is healthy. Maybe Bryan Murray now wishes he kept Oleg Saprykin around instead of hauling Robitaille out of Europe. At least Saprykin showed a pulse. The ice-girls who clear the snow between plays get more hits than this guy.

It should also be noted that John Paddock finally did the responsible thing and broke up Wade Redden and Andre Meszaros as a pair on the back end. Meszaros got the demotion to the pairing with Luke Richardson but that shouldn't obscure the fact Meszaros has been better than Redden so far this year. Even Joe Corvo is starting to look like a better option than Redden.

But alas, the Senators will probably turn things around on this road trip. The players seem genuinely upset and there's too much talent and work ethic in the room to stay down for long. Look for Ray Emery to put in at least a solid, consistent game like he did in relief of Martin Gerber against the Rangers and maybe the Sens can steal one in Tampa. But it will be awfully difficult stopping Lecavalier without Anton Volchenkov in the lineup.

Memo to Redden: Time to step up.
P.S. Take a look at Lecavalier's socks in the above picture. What the f*!* is that? He looks like an extra from The Road Warrior or something.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rangers In Drivers Seat

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers suddenly have an overabundance of young prospects, enough to trade a few and grab a star veteran before the deadline. He argues that because Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan might not be around next year, Glen Sather should try to win now.

Some big names he mentions are:

Mats Sundin
Sergei Fedorov
Rob Blake
Marian Hossa
Vincent Lecavalier (whom some are saying may be available. I don't buy it)

One player Glen Sather should move is prospect goalie Al Montoya because it looks like 25 year old Henrik Lundqvist is the franchise for many years to come.
By the way, the Rangers are 12-3-1 in their last sixteen games if you need them.

Goaltending Woes

Ottawa Citizen writer James Gordon weighs in on the Ottawa Senators goaltending woes here.

"It may seem too easy to come down hard on Martin Gerber, especially given the love-in Ottawa fans have had with him up until recently, but this is exactly what happened last season. Gerber started allowing soft goals every game and the team went into a freefall. Enter Ray Emery and his confidence (bordering on arrogance - not that that's always a bad thing for an NHL goalie) and the team turned things around.

Let's face it, Emery will probably never be one of the truly elite NHL goaltenders. We're talking Luongo, Kiprusoff, Brodeur, etc., but one thing his does give you, and something that Gerber and Ottawa goaltenders before him didn't, is the confidence that he's unlikely to give up that one soft, weak, deflating goal that sucks the wind out of the entire team. "

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gerber Gets The Start Saturday!?!? Emery and McGrattan Long Forgotten.

Martin Gerber melted down against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, giving up 6 goals in total and let in at least one shot in the last five minutes of every period with the backbreaker being the Preds last goal just seconds after Daniel Alfredsson had heroically tied it up with a highlight reel effort.

You would think that Ray Emery would get the nod against the Rangers, especially with Rayzor showing some improvement every start. Nope.

Coach John Paddock is putting in Gerber. And if that's not a signal that Paddock doesn't care for Emery, I don't know what is.

Only in Ottawa can a goalie help his team to the Stanley Cup final one year, and not get a sniff the next, even when his successor falters badly.

But who knows. Maybe Gerber goes in and stones the Rangers. It doesn't seem to matter because it looks like Emery will be headed out of town in the future, either by his own trade request or by Bryan Murray bowing to his coach's preference. Stay tuned.


You gotta think that with Anton Volchenkov out for a month and Christoph Schubert back on the blueline that Brian McGrattan might get into the lineup?

With Paddock, who knows? Even if he does dress the popular teammate, he'll nail his ass to the bench.
It's funny that fans of the Senators were pining for two things all those years they lost to the Leafs in the playoffs: a goalie capable of winning when it mattered the most and some toughness to go along with it.
Well, the fans finally got them. But this year, they're both sitting on their asses collecting paychecks for doing nothing.
Welcome back to 2001 Sens fans.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bigger Ice An Option

"Decades ago, there were three buildings - the Boston Garden, Buffalo Auditorium and Chicago Stadium - that were all slightly smaller than the norm. Not many saw it as a problem. On the contrary, there was a certain charm, even for a visiting team, to playing in a building that was a little different. And the home clubs often built teams to take advantage of their home rinks. The Blackhawks deployed forwards who played a determined fore-checking style during the Mike Keenan reign because they could get on the opposing team's defencemen so quickly in the confined space of the old Stadium.

"Maybe there is room for some flex in there, for a defined minimum and a defined maximum," Keenan said. "It certainly provided for some dynamics and interest in the past. "

Sens Gameday: Nashville

Martin Gerber gets the start in net tonight after a so-so outing from Ray Emery in a loss to the Isles on Wednesday.

Paddock is a strange cat. He seems to be wary and mistrustful of the media while his predecessor Bryan Murray was the exact opposite. Murray would almost always be forthcoming with the press and enjoyed a good relationship with them. Paddock uses the media to throw players under the bus but generally likes to stay cryptic.
Like what kind of answer is "Only I know"? How clever John.

Radek Bonk is enjoying a resurgent season in Nashville and the Tennesseann is all over the story.

Players to watch tonight are Shea Weber and Martin Erat for Nashville. Weber just recently returned from a knee injury and is every bit as good as Dion Phaneuf but sneaks in under the radar due to playing in Music City. Erat is stealing playing time from Alexander Radulov.

Will Brian McGrattan play tonight? If Paddock disregards Ottawa's toughest player again, look for Jordin Tootoo to go after Ottawa's star players (and probably get away with it).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sens Lose Fourth Straight

In a shootout to the resilient Islanders.

The Senators could have used a little more emotion this game as the Isles trapped them to death through 2 and a half periods. Chris Neil finally showed something at the end of the second period by getting a roughing penalty in front of the net but otherwise, the Senators were placid at the wrong moments.

It would have been nice to have seen Brian McGrattan in the game instead of Nick Foligno, but it looks more and more like John Paddock has turned into a pacifist and forgotten about Ottawa's toughest player. Because of this, Chris Simon got in three good punches to Chris Neil's head while the Ottawa forward was tied up in a scrum and Brendan Witt roughed up Jason Spezza at the end of overtime.

Ottawa fans can expect way more of this type of tactic against Spezza and Ottawa's other skilled players as McGrattan continues to collect dust.

Ray Emery played a decent game but he still looks skittish out there at times and gave no indication that he's about to overtake Martin Gerber for the lead spot. His weakness on his blocker side remains a problem but he did have flashes of his old self playing out on top of the crease and making a nice pokecheck on a shootout attempt. He'll only get better with more starts but Paddock seems loyal to Gerber so we should expect more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Daniel Alfredsson still looks like he's missing a gear but he got better as the game went on. Randy Robitaille again looked invisible except on a goal that was called back but Antoine Vermette played a heck of a game and looks to be more focused than in previous weeks.

Regardless, the Senators have put enormous pressure on themselves with their fourth straight loss and will have to face a renewed Nashville squad back in Ottawa Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Islanders quietly roll on under the radar of most people in the NHL.

Ted Nolan will be coach of the year. Bet the house on it.

Senators Gameday

Nick Foligno is back with the big team and you can be sure he appreciates the chance he was given earlier in the season a little more now, as Ken Warren notes.

"Well, the bus is definitely different .... I was spoiled when I was up here before."

Look for Foligno to be a little better during this stint. He'll be thinking of those long bus rides and hustling his butt off for GM Bryan Murray and coach John Paddock.

Mike Fisher is starting to receive a little criticism for his play and hasn't scored a goal in 10 games, as Chris Stevenson points out.

There's also a few other players who need to react strongly for the Sens to break out of their first slump of the season. Antoine Vermette has gone cold and Randy Robitaille has almost completely disappeared. Unfortunately, Robitaille is starting to live up to his reputation as a player who tiptoes through the tulips when the games get physical. He is now competing against Nick Foligno for a roster spot when the team gets healthy again.

Perhaps Murray might want to replace Robitaille with the likes of a Mark Recchi, who seems to be on his way out of Pittsburgh after being a scratch 4 of the last 5 games. He'd be a better fit than Robitaille and would add some much needed experience to the top lines.

Around the League:

Toronto loses a tough game against the Habs after Jason Blake claimed before the puck dropped that the contest would "define us as a team." Blake must be cursing the day he left the confines of the Island for the circus in Canada.

The New York Rangers still can't score goals and it's almost December. Scott Gomez is getting some of the blame.


One of the more interesting sights last night was Darren McCarty at the Red Wings-Flames tilt in Detroit. According to Rob Parker of the Detroit News, McCarty wants to make a comeback and he'd love to do it with the Wings after surviving bankruptcy, a divorce, and a goalless season in Calgary.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who's Grumpy Now?

There was a lot of the talk in the early going about Ray Emery not being a team player because he missed an optional skate and there were rumours abound on Ottawa message boards and blogs that Emery was unhappy about losing the starting job to Martin Gerber and thus the conclusion was made that Emery was/is a distraction in the dressing room.

But has anyone seen anything from Ray Emery except a wide smile, either sitting on the bench or answering questions from reporters?

On the other hand, Martin Gerber has been in a pout since Saturday because he was yanked after giving up at least two bad goals. He's not hiding his feelings from reporters and, according to Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun, coach John Paddock even had to take Gerber aside and explain the whole thing to him, to massage his hurt feelings.

Am I the only one who sees the inherent irony in all of this? If Emery complained to the media and needed a heart to heart with the coach, the fans and the press would be all over the guy, saying he was a bad teammate.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Gerber being upset. He should be. That shows a competitive spirit.

But if Gerber is going to make this all about himself, then the fans and the press should exhibit the same scrutiny they routinely apply to the minutiae of Ray Emery's moods and actions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Leafs About To Be Dismantled

Wow. A bad weekend for the Leafs has set off a chain of events that could lead to both John Ferguson Jr. and coach Paul Maurice getting canned. According to Steve Simmons, JFJR already tried to fire Maurice last week but was overruled. Now it looks like JFJR is headed out the door.

He also draws up a list of replacements for the Leafs, including names like Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier and Don Meehan.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Sens Start To Show Cracks From Unbalanced Ice Times

A very entertaining game last night with the Senators losing 6-5 in a shootout agains the Pens.

The coaching decisions of one John Paddock continue to confuse me though. Brian McGrattan only played 1:36 while his counterpart on the Pens, Georges Laraque played over 8 minutes. Some of this is due to McGrattan slightly injuring his arm in an abbreviated tussle with Laraque in the first but once he came back, he was relegated to the bench.

Now no one is saying that McGrattan should be getting over ten minutes a game, but he is a better player than many give him credit for (especially demagogic blogger Kevin Lee who constantly demands Bryan Murray trade McGrattan and Emery) and he always seems to bring some energy and a few good hits on every shift he plays.

Shean Donovan was playing the game of his life until Paddock benched him in the third, presumably because he took some penalties. But in my view, Donovan's penalties came from him hustling and playing aggressive hockey. Paddock is basically sending him the message to calm down which is not a good thing in my opinion.

Paddock should realize that four lines make a team. He's playing for broke in November and the team is starting to show signs of wear and tear with Daniel Alfredsson getting a groin injury. Maybe it has something to do with him playing over 25 minutes on back to back nights and three times in four nights.

If things keep going this way, the Senators will be dragging their asses come playoff time.
Alex Nikulin took a puck to the grill during the warmup and seemingly never recovered. One of his stated idols, Evgeni Malkin, blew past him at centre ice and scored a nice breakaway goal. Can't wait to read Nikulin's next blog entry.
Is it just me, or does it seem like Chris Neil is reluctant to drop the gloves nowadays. He's still effective but a dimension is definitely gone.
Christoph Schubert has been horrible for weeks now and Joe Corvo hasn't been much better.
Even though he's under the radar a bit with Sidney Crosby as a teammate, Evgeni Malkin is a freaking stud. With his size and skill, he reminds me of Mario Lemieux more and more every time I watch him.
And did anyone notice that the Senators are still using their old sideways profile logo during their pre-game light show? I thought that logo was retired. Maybe they're thinking of bringing it back next year as part of a 3rd jersey.
One can only hope that when the Senators retire their next number (Alfredsson), they go with the same barberpole style banner that number 8 Frank Finnigan has. It looks sharp up there in the rafters.
And lastly, why can't the organization get anything right when it comes to their pay-per view games? Last years broadcasts were troubled with major technical interruptions, screens freezing and the lack of an HD feed. They offered the HD feed last night but the signal went out at the start of the third period and they used the Penguins affiliate broadcast instead. So for those who paid over 12 bucks for the HD feed, I hope you get your money back.
Just get a dude in there who knows what the hell is going on with all those wires and satellites and buttons and knobs. Please. It's getting embarrassing and ridiculously expensive.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Emery Needs Playing Time

Even though he’d be going against all logic and popular public opinion, Senators coach John Paddock needs to put Ray Emery in the net for at least the next five games if he’s at all concerned about the future.

A coach’s mandate is to win now and that’s why you see Paddock playing Daniel Alfredsson over 25 minutes a night and riding the hot streak of Martin Gerber.

But he has to remember that the goal is to win in June, not December. Real leaders take risks and aren't afraid to go against prevalent wisdom (which is almost always wrong once everybody starts believing in it).

It’s obvious that Ray Emery is the type of goalie who has trouble coming off the bench. Once he gets in a groove, everything is fine. On the other hand, Martin Gerber showed last season that he is more than capable of sitting for an extended period and then playing well.

If now is not the right time to take a chance and get Emery back into playing shape, when is?
The Sens are firmly in control of the Eastern Conference after a torrid start and have given themselves some wide room for error. Why not put Emery back in the net and let him get the kinks out after off-season surgery? Are the Sens about to fall off the face of the earth if they have a few rough games while Emery works off the rust?

The Senators and their fans are playing a fools game if they think that Martin Gerber is the solution over Ray Emery. Gerber has virtually no playoff experience while Emery has already played in a Stanley Cup final. Gerber is signed for only one more year while Emery is here for four. Gerber is closer to retirement while Emery hasn’t even entered his prime. In virtually every pressure situation in Gerber’s career, he’s come out flat and lost his job. Emery has always risen to the occasion. It’s like he’s hotwired for pressure.

It’s time to stop being so concerned with the short term and start thinking about the real battles that lie ahead.

Kevin Lowe Headed For Hall Of Shame

Way to go Kevin.

Yes, Kevin Lowe was playing by the official rules when he made two offer sheets this past summer. He managed to snag Dustin Penner but in the process gave up three first round draft picks which looks like it might cost the Oilers a chance at Steve Stamkos this year and John Tavares the next.

That’s a disaster for Edmonton fans.

But there’s also a nice little time bomb that Lowe planted for the rest of the league’s fans.

GM’s are so freaked out by Lowe’s nutcase offer sheets that they are starting to throw insane amounts of money towards their restricted free agents. The Sharks just signed defenseman Matt Carle for four years at an annual cost of 3.5 bills. As Allen Panzeri notes in todays Ottawa Citizen, this means that Bryan Murray just lost all leverage with pending restricted free agent D-man Andrej Meszaros who compares favourably to Carle.

In short, Kevin Lowe’s shortsighted panic gave all the NHL’s restricted free agents total control and leverage over their general managers.

You can debate whether that’s a good thing or not, but essentially Kevin Lowe unwittingly changed the way the NHL works until the next CBA is negotiated.

Now imagine if Edmonton crashes out for the next two years and has to watch Brian Burke and the Ducks snag Steve Stamkos and John Tavares. That doesn’t even need to be elaborated on. It will go down in NHL history as the all time botch job.

Again. Way to go Kevin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why Does Everyone Hate Buffalo?

Not only are Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek in a major slump for the once mighty Sabres, but the city itself constantly has to take jabs from the Canadian press, in particular from Ottawa and Toronto dailies, about the city being boring and an "armpit".

Don Brennan from the Sun is the latest to jump on. This strikes me as just lazy journalism. What do Ottawa and Toronto, two cities I've lived in, have to crow so loudly about anyways? Toronto might be the most boring "big city" in the world and Ottawa is not exactly renowned for its night life, though it is a much more livable city than Toronto is.

I've never been to Buffalo, but I can conjecture that the city can't be so bad and boring that it deserves to be trashed by every sportswriter across the continent. Although they did give us the Goo Goo Dolls, the biggest bunch of preeners and poseurs ever seen outside of Nickelback.

They deserve a slap for that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Ilya Bryzgalov shuts out L.A. only hours after being picked up off waivers.

On the other hand, Ottawa puts up a desultory performance against the Leafs and Jason Spezza is pointless in his first two games back in the lineup after a groin injury. Bryan McCabe plays the game of his life...

That's why betting on the NHL is for the maniacs and the cretins. God bless 'em.