Monday, November 17, 2008

Hartsburg Blows It

There can be no sane reason for Craig Hartsburg deciding to put Jarkko Ruutu and Antoine Vermette in the shootout ahead of Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson.

He already made the decision to reunite the Big 3 and, in a sense, put the team in their hands once again.

So why does he try to get cute with the game on the line?

Ruutu on the shootout? Ahead of the Captain who scored the only goal of the game?

Vermette? The guy has already proven over the years to be a master at choking, twice failing to convert prime scoring chances earlier in the period, once on a breakaway and once off a nice setup by Spezza by the side of the net.

It was a horseshit move by Hartsburg and it absolutely ruined what could have been a character building game by a team that was fighting tooth and nail all night to break out of their hellish slump.

Think of it.

With the game on the line and with the chance to end the losing streak (that is threatening his and his GM's job) he decides to sit the team's two best natural goal scorers.

It defies description. Actually, no it doesn't.

It was pure fucking garbage.

Some positives:

Alex Auld was great again. Brendan Bell showed that he deserves another game or two and made nice, easy plays all night. Ilya Zubov played another solid game and he looks like a much better option than the struggling Nick Foligno at this point but injuries to Chris Neil and now Mike Fisher probably means that there's plenty of spots to go around.

In my humble opinion, the Senators worked their asses off tonight and it still wasn't good enough. The fact that they managed to get a point should not dissuade Bryan Murray from making a big move here and Antoine Vermette should be the main chip they cash in.

I suspect the fans reaction to Hartsburg's minor league bullshit may get ugly between now and Thursday when the Senators give it another try.

But for now I need some Thorazine...


Peter said...

Great blog, weak post. Career stats in shootouts:

Ruutu: 7/14 (50%)
Spezza: 5/13 (38%)
Vermette: 5/19 (26%)
Alfredsson: 4/18 (22%)
Heatley: 3/17 (18%)

Maybe he should have picked Alfie over Vermette based on their ability to finish on the night, but Vermette's line was the best on the night.

It sucks they lost again, but the loss wasn't due to "Hartsburg's minor league bullshit". Take a breather, big guy.

Jeremy Milks said...

The point of the post is that Hartsburg didn't let his best players decide the game.

I stand by everything I said.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Alfie and Heatley should have had a shot at it. Vermette shat the bed all night. Great effort, but ultimately, who gives a shit if you don't convert. Bringing in the stats for shootouts? It isn't baseball, bro, and they aren;t even that convincing.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't stats be used as a basis for selecting shooters? It's a specific skill, and stats are one way of measuring proficiency. The stats would be more accurate with a larger sample size, but hey, we make all sort of assumptions about teams and goalies etc... based on stats, even early in the seaon. And btw, it wasn't quite the same thing as overtime shootouts, but Gretzky would freely admit that he sucked on breakaways. No shame in being slightly weaker in one dimension.

Amanda said...

I agree with Peter on this one. I understand the mentality of your best players winning the game for you, but the shootout is a different beast all together, where Frans Nielsen and Marek Malik get game winners and Jussi Jokinen and Mathieu Garon are all-time heroes.

I think this is one decision with which Hartsburg can simply never win unless the team does - play Ruutu and people bitch about Heatley not getting a shot. Play Heatley and watch him miss (as always) and then think of those youtube videos of Ruutu's sick shootout moves and wonder what the hell Hartsburg was thinking. This wasn't some minor league ploy nor an attempt to send a message to his players - he simply sent out the players who could provide him with the greatest chance to win the game, regardless of salary, team stature or hockey skills that aren't applicable in a breakaway setting.

Feio said...

I love this blog and have been a regular reader for almost a year, but I definitely agree with Peter and Amanda. Ruutu is by far the most consistently successful player on the shootout on this team. I'm not saying so just because the stats say so - the stats say so because it's true. The fact that Hartsburg went with those three shows that he knows the strengths on his team and had the first three shooters been any different, THEN I would question his competence. But he played this one perfectly, and in the end it was Lundqvist that stole the game.

And as for bringing the stats up - no, this isn't baseball: here the stats are far more meaningful.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Really meaningful stats. That's why they won. Wait a second... Just kidding. Man the sens suck in shootouts. I can't think of the last time they won in a shootout. Maybe they should just pull the goalie in OT and try for two points then.

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember in the world juniors when bouwmeester was on the team, and it went to a shootout and he wound up in the slot and hammered it top corner? The goalie didn't even move? A bit like Malkin in the playoffs last year, except it was in a shootout? Point is, why doesn't anyone shoot? Decent game by sens last night, shootout aside.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely.

Vermette over Alfie. Why?

Alfie's move to score the only goal means he's hot, and confident.

Ruutu over Heatley? 50 goal scorer over occasional goal scorer?

Maybe if we were 26-1-0. Not now.

I would have done Spezz, Alfie, Heatley. (Maybe Alfie first)

Best case Alfie scores, which gives Heater confidence.

- KB

Anonymous said...

Alfie over Vermette, sure, since he had scored and Vermette's not a shoot-out wizard.

But Heatley sucks in shootouts, and Ruutu is awesome.

The moves made a lot of sense. Spezza/Ruutu/Vermette is a shoot-out lineup that others have called for before. Give Hartsburg a break (on that), and attack him on the stupid sit-back strategy in the 3rd that allowed the NYR to tie it up.

Anonymous said...

the point is that on a number of occasions Hartsburgh has made crappy decisions and this was just one example.

Is anyone surprised? I'm not. He's a freakin minor league coach - he was clearly the wrong person for the job and day by day it's becoming more & more evident. Should he get fired? Maybe. But this is really a symptom of a bigger problem: Who hired Hatsburgh? Who hired Paddock?

That incompetent asshole from shawville who pads the team with his relatives and buddies from shawville (Luke and his nephew). Should we fire another coach? IMO it's time for someone higher up to pay the price.


Anonymous said...

Jeremy, I think you're straight up wrong about Ruutu in the shootout.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of talk about trade rumours now.

In my view, no trade, and I mean no trade, will have the impact that you'll get from firing Bryan Murray. He has changed the whole culture of the club.

Garrioch is reporting Vermette for Ohlund. We're already the fifth oldest team in the league, and we're looking to add a 32 year old UFA who is making $3.5M who will want more than $4M at years end? If we make the trade, and cannot resign Ohlund, we lose Vermette for free. Meszaros at $4M doesn't look so bad anymore.

Mr. Melnyk, put this team out of its misery, and fire the GM.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the sit back startegy in the third. Sens up by one, and they sit back and play like they've got a three goal lead. Give me a break. Not the first time we've seen it at all this year. I'm sure the sens have already blown more 3rd period leads than they did all of last year, and we all know about last year. Get fisher to waive his ntc and go shopping for some d that's a long term solution, not a 1 year rental, since there is no way sens are winning the cup this year. I think they have more chance of being in the lottery than winning the cup with this group.

Big Will said...

Alfie HATES the shootout. Regardless, he should have been there. He was the only one to solve King Henry that night...