Sunday, October 19, 2008

Uneven Results

Losing the second game of a back-to-back is not really unexpected, and the Senators fell to the Boston Bruins in a frustrating game against the tight-checking Bruins last night. There is certainly no reason to panic at the Senators respectable 2-2-1 record but there are certain trends which can now be reasonably commented upon after the first 5 games.

1. The good news is that the penalty kill remains strong, ranking 6th in the NHL. The Senators have only taken 23 minor penalties, the 9th least in the NHL. The part that really gets strange is that they have 0 major penalties. They are only one of four teams not to have at least one scrap so far this year (Detroit, St.Louis and Carolina are the others). Chris Neil might need to drop the gloves soon because he doesn't have anything going for him on scoreboard either (0 points, minus 4).

2. Although it might be hard news for fans to comprehend, the simple fact is that the team is simply just not as good as in the past, especially on defense and in goal. When you lose a ton of skill players in such a short time, that should come as no surprise.

Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara, Andrej Meszaros, Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing are gone from the blueline since the lockout and that is almost too incredible to believe. Their replacements in guys like Filip Kuba, Alex Picard, Jason Smith and Brian Lee just don't provide the same level of skill (although Kuba deserves credit for an impressive 7 points). The Senators need to get a defenseman who can run the power-play or they simply won't contend.

Martin Gerber again let in the first shot he saw and went on to play his usual mediocre game, allowing 4 goals which ballooned his GAA to 3.46 (32nd in the league) and lowered his save percentage to .896 (19th in the league). Obviously that's not going to cut it and there's doubt that he can improve on those numbers. Alex Auld is still a mystery because Craig Hartsburg seems determined, like John Paddock and Bryan Murray before him, to force Gerber into a number one role, whether he deserves it or not. In fact, Gerber must be luckiest guy in the world to have so many successive coaches believe in him despite his performance. It's quite the meal-ticket he has.

3. Thank the heavens for Nick Foligno because all that secondary scoring expected from Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette is simply not there right now. Fisher is pointless in 3 games but is at least his usual physical presence on the forecheck.

But what's up with Vermie?

Here's a game log of Antoine Vermette's very ordinary season so far:

Game 1 vs Pittsburgh

Ice time: 22:44, Shots: 3, Points:0, +/-: -1

Game 2 vs Pittsburgh

Ice time: 19:03, Shots: 4, Points:1, +/-: +1

Game 3 vs Detroit

Ice time: 16:26, Shots: 4, Points:0, +/-: Even

Game 4 vs Phoenix

Ice time: 19:12, Shots: 3, Points:0, +/-: -1

Game 5 vs Boston

Ice time: 14:55, Shots: 1, Points:0, +/-: -1

He needs to rebound quickly before the trade rumours start up again.


Maybe Christoph Schubert's ticket back into the lineup will come as a defenseman after all. Brian Lee does not look good so far this year. In fact, last night against Boston, Lee was clearly out of his league and might benefit from some more time in the minors where he can rebuild the confidence that he displayed at the tail end of last year. Hartsburg is clearly trying to protect him right now by doling out some very limited ice time to the youngster (13 minutes on average, well below the next lowest defenseman in Picard who is getting around 17 minutes).

Strangely, the player with the least amount of average ice time on the team is tied for fifth in scoring.

Who's that player?

Shean Donovan, with 3 points in 5 games.


Anonymous said...

I agree on Lee. He just doesnt look comfortable back there!

Lines 3 and $ seem to be working decent and make sense, so why not give Schubert the chance at D. After sitting these last two games you'd hope he'd come back determined and try to cease the opportunity!

cash said...

Are you serious about Gerber? It doesn't sound like you even watched the Bruins game...Gerber was outstanding. I'm the type to blast a player when he underperforms and I was all over him after the Detroit debacle, but he was great in each of the games last weekend.
Did you even see the 1st goal? That was a RIDICULOUS tip-in that absolutely no goalie that has ever lived would have been able to stop. No joke...
I was stressing about it in real-time because I knew it was another game where he let in the first shot, but the replay eased my anger...
The D let him down repeatedly and he deserved a better fate.

Lee has definitely struggled early, but he's making noticeable improvement. Removing him from the roster in any way would be a bad decision.

Vermette's been awful...His stats don't even show the full extent of his sucking...
Neil's been worse...He is likely to be a scratch against Florida.

Jeremy Milks said...

Gerber was outstanding?


cash said...

ok ok - I don't think you can EVER responsibly characterize Gerbers play as outstanding...he is erratic and one of the most aggravating goalies I've ever watched...Regardless, he played a solid game and made every save he could. All 4 goals were a result of defensive breakdowns and poor coverage.
An outstanding goalie would've never given up the rebound that led to the 2nd goal and an outstanding goalie would've made a more responsible play on the 4th goal than a poke-check that left him completely out of position for a follow-up. That being said, I think it was a miscommunication between Volchie (I think it was Volchie? Whoever the D was..) and Gerber. Gerbs was trying to poke it to the D, the D didn't trust his goalie to make the save so he was more worried about the initial play than the follow-up....
Obviously, trust in Gerbers ability is probably more of an issue than his ability itself.

Anonymous said...

the problem with gerber is that whenever you seem to watch him he makes a lot of saves and generally one concludes that the ones that went in nobody could save...but its funny that he seems to come across more shots "that no goalie could save" then other goalies in the league do.