Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sabres Extend The Misery ... Ruutu Provides The Entertainment

Another late penalty - another road loss.

The old cliche remains true - bad teams find a way to lose and the Senators are finding ways not seen since 1996, the last year they were permanent fixtures in the basement.

A Matt Ellis goal just 15 seconds in to the first period told us all we needed to know about how this game would go. A 32 second spurt in the 2nd period when Jason Spezza scored twice was the only time this game was in doubt.

The road trip from hell isn't even over and the Senators season is already toast. Even a person like myself who was tending on the negative side of things couldn't foresee the trip being this bad.

On the positive side, Spezza played a great game and never seemed to give up. Brian Lee continues to impress with his puck-moving ability and his calmness, characteristics that were strangely absent during his first stint with the team this season.

Brendan Bell was flying out there tonight. I don't know if he was disobeying Craig Hartsburg's system by jumping into the play so much or if Hartsburg has loosened the reins, but Bell was a major threat out there, especially in the third period with the game on the line.

The other incident of note will no doubt be the Jarkko Ruutu bite on Sabre enforcer Andrew Peters. I thought at first that Ruutu had actually bitten off the guy's digit the way Peters reacted.

It's a suspension for sure but probably only 2 games or less. If anything, Ruutu has provided the bulk of the entertainment for the Senators thus far.

His free-agent signing is one thing that Bryan Murray can be congratulated on. It would have been nice to have Ruutu earlier in the decade when the Senators were losing four straight playoff series to the Leafs but.... better late than never.


It was interesting to hear Chris Neil say the other day that perhaps the team was too serious and that having a little more fun might improve the mood and eventually the results.

I tend to agree. The atmosphere around this team seems even more negative than it was last year and listening to sports radio shows is just an exercise in hearing fans wanting to "punish" the players ad nauseum.

The fans aren't having fun. The players aren't having fun. Only Ruutu is having fun because he's in his own solar system.

Maybe the guys need a pat on the back once in a while, not just from the fans but from the ultra-serious Hartsburg.

Who's going to want to play here in the future if the conditions are so hostile and negative that nice "aw shucks" guys like Spezza are treated like criminals by the media and fans?

It may seem strange but I'd wager that once the post-season is completely out of the picture, the team will actually play better because they'll be looser and not worried about making mistakes so much.


First it was Andrej Meszaros not missing a game after getting 64 stitches in his face.

Now...gasp!... another ex-Senator defenseman who apparently wasn't good enough to play in Ottawa is starting to round into form according to Larry Brooks.

"Coach Tom Renney was not a slave to matching against Sidney Crosby. Indeed, the head coach pretty much rolled his lines against the NHL's frustrated favorite son, but he did send the Wade Redden-Dan Girardi defense pair out against No. 87 as much as possible.

Redden was excellent; strong and composed. Indeed, No. 6's game has improved slowly but surely over the last 10 days. If he hasn't quite found it, he certainly doesn't appear lost anymore.

"So much of it for me is getting the mental part of my game in focus and getting into the intensity of the competition," Redden said. "Earlier I was guilty of expecting it to come, and waiting for it to come."

Weren't these guys supposed to be bums?

What will really grind the naysayers is that Redden is on his way to the playoffs for the 12th straight year (he's never missed the playoffs) and Meszaros is still on his iron-man streak (he's never missed a game to injury) while the Senators can't even make a pass out of their own zone, let alone get to the post-season.

Who knows? Maybe the currently injured Filip Kuba will re-join the Lightning and Meszaros when he leaves Ottawa as a free-agent with no compensation this summer.


Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you about Ruutu. I'm tiring of his act. I liked it better when we sent Gratts out to beat someone up fair and square. He was half the cap hit too.

I'm with you on Redden and Mez, though.

The atmosphere around the team suggests that everyone is waiting for something to happen.

Meaghan said...

Of course, Redden has been absolutely awful to this point in the season and Meszaros had his A taken away from him in Tampa when Jeff Halpern came back. Kuba is still outscoring both despite only having played 31 games this season.

I understand that Ottawa needs a puck mover, but I really can't say that I would want either of those two back.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Redden has started playing better over 10 games? Let's give him $6.5M!

These guys were not worth the money they wanted, regardless of an ironman streak and the fact that Redden left for a team destined to make the playoffs.

SoCalSensFan said...

Quinn and... Nicholson? Can you verify this story?

hambown said...

Kuba will likely be moved at the deadline. There's a market for his services, we need the help, and BM is no fool.

But seriously, what do we know? Kuba played for years in Tampa where the team was abysmal; he clearly doesn't feel a burning need to play for a contender. If he does re-sign, and this Kris Russell trade materializes, then the Sens will be much better next year.

Anonymous said...

Just a note that Auld the great has been abysmal on this road trip. Where is he when you need him? A goal 15 seconds into a game? GAA over 4? Please note that only Gerber was able to sustain the Sens' 1 win. Both goalies have confidence issues?? The entire TEAM has confidence issues? This coach has to go. He has no idea how to work with an NHL team and players of this calibre.

Anonymous said...

Our owner is one of the biggest self-promoters in the league. He is the one who put Murray in the GM role, and allowed Murray to ruin the organization.

The Sens have lost that community feel. It is Melnyk's fault.

Canucnik said...

I think "they" last till after Boston. GM's fault for #21, Coaches (plural) for shielding #21 (He reflects the no pass (Brain Dead) game plan and was poison for the young Defencemen. The Offencive coach (Carvel) walks the plank for not "speaking up", as in "This aint working!" about game 4. He not a bad guy, might have learned a Life Lesson. Quin, "the reformer" no more Old Boys lets go with the kids. If we aren't going to make a move, bring up Binghamton (2 or 3 guys) and get some Black Aces going (sit some guys).

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, Good on you for creating a forum where fans can honestly express their views on the team. I think that it creates great, and for the most part, intelligent debate. Sadly, this element is lacking in our local media.

Keep up the good work.