Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Notes

You have to feel for these Ottawa Senators.

They played with heart and gusto but were ultimately let down by their anemic fans and some uneven goaltending by rookie Brian Elliott.

Not that Elliott played an overall bad game, but he simply had to have two of those regulation goals back and he didn't look good in the shootout where the Senators had no chance (and you could sense that going in).

Regardless, Elliott is a work in progress and he made some really good saves as well, especially with a lightning quick glove hand that the fans haven't seen in these parts since Dominik Hasek. For now, fans will just have to be patient while he learns on the job.

And speaking of the fans, what a brutal display that was by the Senators faithful last night. The captain was booed and Jason Spezza was hissed at (probably by a few Sens fans as well) and there was only one or two pathetic Go Sens Go chants against the constant onslaught of Habs cheering.

Obviously the red and black fans were outnumbered by the red and blue (as Blood Red Army points out) but that's because Sens fans didn't bother to buy tickets to last night's game, something that is always going to be a problem because of the low season-ticket base here in town. Due to the high volume of game-day stubs on sale, any other city's fans can invade Ottawa's arena at will.

That's what happened last night. Not to belabour the point but why is it that Ottawa has the weakest set of fans compared to the other 5 Canadian franchises? I would even put 4 or 5 American NHL markets ahead of sleepy Ottawa when it comes to fan support. The Senators have been in town since 1992 but all Ottawa fans can agree on is that skill players are always the cause of the team's troubles, since the days of Yashin and Daigle on into Spezza and Heatley.

It's not just the numbers of butts in the seats in Ottawa, it's the hockey IQ as well. Just listen to the Team 1200's Over The Edge radio show if you want to expose the mindset of the typical Ottawa fan. Habs fans might be obnoxious but they have the brains not to constantly run their best players out of town.


It was amusing to catch Brian Lee on camera in the penalty box with under a minute remaining in the tie game. It was easy to read his lips as he stared up at the time clock. He was saying over and over again "Come on boys. Come on boys." Lucky for him, the Senators easily killed off the penalty. Lee basically saved the point for the Senators as the Montreal player was in alone on Elliott and Lee was forced to deliver the hook. That's called a "good penalty" and teams seem more eager to kill those off than the lazy ones. ....... If Tampa is ready to unload some big money players, there should be a lot of takers for Martin St. Louis. He will make a very affordable 4 million over the next two years while still being an electrifying player. Ottawa has bigger problems to fix on defense right now but St. Louis would look pretty good in red and black for the next two seasons. Strangely enough, St. Louis tried out for the Senators in 1997 but was deemed too small for the NHL and cut by then GM Pierre Gauthier and coach Jacques Martin. But that was when you needed to be a linebacker to play in the clutch and grab league. ...... Not sure why Craig Hartsburg has Alex Picard on the first power play unit instead of Brian Lee. Picard doesn't have much poise or a shot to be there on a consistent basis. But obviously Hartsburg sees something in Picard. I wonder what it could be.......

The Penguins absolutely stole Mathieu Garon from the Oilers this weekend. Unbelievably, Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe have decided to place their season in the hands of Dwayne Roloson. What the hell are the Oilers going to do next year with no number one goalie? No one seems to be confident in Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers being able to take the next step but that sort of uncertainty has never stopped the Oilers from making boneheaded moves in the past...... Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov all received votes in the list of the Globe and Mail's "First Half All-Disappointment Team". Hard to believe Antoine Vermette didn't make that list....... Islanders GM Garth Snow is taking a lot of heat for losing Wade Dubliewicz on waivers to Columbus just one day after trying to bring him back from Europe.

"It had been reported that Dubielewicz had garnered the interests of as many as three NHL teams. To a smart GM, that means it is time to back off. There is no chance that if you sign Dubielewicz you could get him through waivers. One of the other teams would claim him. Garth Snow is not one of those smart GMs. He didn’t see the warning signs. "


Don't miss Ian Mendes recent column at Sportsnet where Bryan Murray puts the brakes on speculation that Spezza is about to be traded.

"He's a good player on this hockey club. I don't know how you acquire another guy like this if you trade him away," continued Murray. "My intent is not to do that. I think the core here is a good core. We just have to help them a little bit in a couple areas."


dzuunmod said...

Well, if you're just comparing Ottawa to the other Canadian franchises, it makes sense that they have the smallest fanbase: the city is only slightly larger than Edmonton and Calgary, but those two cities have an extra fifteen years of history on the Sens, plus they each have at least one Cup banner hanging from the rafters.

And they also don't have the added disadvantage of lying within driving distance of two Original Six franchises.

Given all that, the question isn't, "Why doesn't Ottawa have a fan base as rabid as the other Canadian teams?", but rather, "Why would anyone expect it to?"

Canucnik said...

Thoughts: (1) Poor defencive teams just wear their goalie out. Brian Elliott could hardly get around the net in the late stages of the third. (2) Shot clock 2nd period 14, I counted 20 shots, 40 plus total; give the kid a break. (3) Koistitsyn's goal (out of position off the post... nah) was the NHL "Nanosecond" that my friends was "the" big league goal! (lightning quickness) The goaltender has no chance. Of course Millen missed his chance to catch that and dazzle the viewers. Go back and view it the first time in real time! (4) Every time Smith and now Phillips throw a check with the free hand "up" it's an "infraction" resulting in a "soft" make up call.(They get the "Vets" pass.) Thus the string of bad penalties. (5) This reverse "Home Call!" is rediculous. "Ballancing" the books. (6) No fire! If you are coaching the home team and "they" are running a steady streem of your guys to the box in the first period... "let 'em know you're there" Break a stick over the boards; throw the water bottle at the lines man! You must defend your guys. Hartsburg should have done this about game 3. The Officials know he's a pussy cat. (7) Well Brian Elliott showed us his "glove" and fundamentals (this guy is a "keeper") it was too far too fast, for me. (It's interesting how the sheep all got on the Company line on this one; Mr. Stevenson, you could have won the Canucnikbell Prize for journalism in Ottawa.. Mr. Wilson (Eli) should have to give us the "Official" explanation and logic for this move at this time.

Anonymous said...

I caught Brian Lee saying "Come on boys" and that warmed my heart if only because it's good to see the players showing some passion for the game, even with the season the guys are having.

Andrew said...

Maybe there were more Habs fans there last nite but in my experiece when the Loafs and Habs come to town, even if there are more Sens fans they're nowhere near as loud as the visiting fans. Not sure if its a confidence thing or what but Sens fans in general would never think of getting a bit rowdy to pump up their team. I vote Gene bankrolls a half price beer nite, that should loosen folks up a bit.

Mickey said...

Dwayne Roloson is a very good goaltender, he has put up good numbers on a bad team and while he may be knocking on a bit he is much much more confident than garon, who has basically been a bust this season (He seems to falter every time his team rewards him with more responsability). Dont doubt Roloson, hes the consumate pro every goalie should model themselves after.

Anonymous said...

I like what I see from Brian Elliott so far. He has let in some softies, but he seems to have the capability to make the big save. More importantly, he projects a confidence that I do not see in Auld or Gerber. It's an intangible, but important.

He also seems committed to improving himself. Another positive. That being said, in my mind, I don't see him being the solution next year. It would be interesting to see how he projects in the eyes of professional scouts. Is he viewed by hockey people as a vialble #1 goalie? If anyone knows, please provide the source.

I would bring back Ray Emery and keep Elliott as a backup. The Auld contract should be easy to unload.

It's interesting that the Globe and Mail guys listed so many Sens. It would have been better if they connected the dots. When you have so many players on one team underperforming, the blame falls on the management and coaching. That is precisely their job; to motivate the players.

Why does Picard get first unit power play duty over Lee? Same reason that Gerber kept getting playing time. Bryan Murray needs Picard to turn into a player so that he can justify trading Mez to ownership. Hartsy is listening to Murray on this one.