Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Notes

The first clue that the Senators are playing a vastly different and successful system under Cory Clouston?

42 shots.

If it wasn't for the circus style saves of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, this game would have been over after the first two periods when the Senators had already accumulated 30 of those 42 shots.

The Senators just weren't getting those numbers under Craig Hartsburg's system, which basically entailed retreating into a defensive shell whenever the opposition had the puck instead of trying to get it back through aggressive skating and checking. (But that didn't stop Allen Panzeri from totally exonerating Hartsburg yesterday by saying that the Senators, gosh darn it, just didn't work hard enough under Hartsburg.....yawn).

Speaking of Hartsburg's system, Daniel Alfredsson had some interesting words for the Ottawa Sun's Chris Stevenson when comparing the old ways to Clouston's style:

"That was the knock on us: People were asking, 'Do they care?' We were passive," said Alfredsson. "Now we're more involved, forechecking with two guys, the defence pinching. In the second period, we had some great shifts. Everybody feeds off the energy, the hitting."

It's a good point by the captain. It was easy for the pundits and fans to scream that the players weren't working hard enough when in fact, it was Hartsburg's system that forced them to be passive. And that's not just my opinion. Alfie says it all in that quote. It's hard to look like you're ready to run defenseman over when your coach tells you that you have to retreat.

It's also been fun to watch a player like Nick Foligno seemingly reinvent himself in a matter of three games under Clouston.

For most of the season, Foligno was a fringe player and used sparingly. His hell-bent-for-leather skating style and rangy physique is a match made in heaven for Clouston's aggressive forechecking system. It would not have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago to see Foligno back with the Bingo Sens but he is now a vital cog on the second line and is starting to produce.

And how about Brendan Bell? This guy has the wheels and passing ability to make a difference and he's using those skills now on the power-play instead of Chris Phillips who was a favourite at times of Hartsburg. Phillips is a heart and soul player who will hopefully spend his whole career in Ottawa, but there's no way he should be running a powerplay.

I'm also going to assume that Clouston had something to do with convincing Bryan Murray to bring up Ryan Shannon in place of Peter Regin. No offence to Regin (who was very good) but Shannon has provided some much needed speed up front that is essential if your going to go after the puck all night.

And let's not forget the veterans here. The guys who have taken heat all season, like Mike Fisher, Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly are starting to play like themselves again and earning big minutes.

It may surprise some but both Fisher and Foligno had more ice time than either Alfie, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. But that doesn't mean that the Big 3 are not pulling their weight either.

Heatley led both teams with 6 shots on goal and Alfie was right behind him with 4.

At some point, those shots are going to go in and goal scoring may become less of a problem in the last half.


How many of you caught Don Cherry comparing the way Cory Clouston looks to Macauley Culkin of Home Alone fame?

I don't see it but it made for some good televison all the same.


If you happened to catch the Satellite Hotstove segment on Hockey Night in Canada after the second period last night, you would have heard that Ray Emery has refused to report back to his Russian club after a dispute with the way he is being paid by the team. Apparently it has something to do with the team using the wrong exchange rate and Emery is refusing to report until he is paid what is due to him in his contract. The panellists went on to say that this is not something new with the KHL and that a lot of players are having the same problems. I have been unable to find a valid report on it in the print media so for now we'll just have to take the word of Al Strachan and company.

Some will speculate that this opens the door to Emery returning to the NHL this season instead of next. I don't know where Don Brennan got his info but he mentions that there's a rumour going around that Rayzer could even find his way back to Ottawa. That sounds unlikely but I'm sure there are a handful of teams who would love the opportunity to bring in a guy who has been to a Stanley Cup final once already in his short career. Some markets can handle fiery goaltenders with outgoing personalities.

Just look at the popularity of guys like Billy Smith in Long Island, Ron Hextall in Philly, Tom Barrasso in Pittsburgh, Dominik Hasek in Buffalo and Patrick Roy in Colorado.

Those guys were all nuts but they could win you big games. Emery is in the same mould but he's too out there for conservative little Ottawa. We prefer our goalies quiet and mediocre. (Maybe Elliott will change all that. He's quiet and pretty good all at the same time.)


mickey said...

As crappy as this season has gone, its always great to see this team beat a rival like buffalo. No matter how badly either team is playing the senators always seem to dominate and the result always seems to come down to whether miller can bail them out. Good to see them having fun.

Anonymous said...

Emery is not of the same mould.... Nuts? Yes. Good. No.

Anonymous said...

I think Brennan was referring to the fact that Emery is in Ottawa right now killing time til his contract/exchange rate squabble with his KHL team is sorted out...

Anonymous said...

On the Hotstove, Strach mentioned that Burke and the Leafs were looking at Rayzor as a possibility.

If he signs with the Leafs and turns into a great goalie for them, I will never forgive the Sens management.

Don't let it happen Melnyk.

Canucnik said...

I don't think we should underestimate Ray's situation (and he will immediately become the test case for the other Internationals in Russia).

With Mr. Emery's fire and ability to escalate a situation this could go "large" at any moment. Everyone is stuck, no one has any "Jack".

Russian insiders say the Soviet take over will be completed as soon as oil and gas goes back to $75/barrel... "They" call it Putin's example. Down with this "Capitalist" taking more than his fare share of our treasure.

Seriously, we don't have a Sub or a Tank that can make it to the North Pole right now and they are looking for any provication to claim it.

Lest we forget, at it's darkest (East/West relations 60s-70s) the Hockey summit series forced that there be talks and negotiations. They were not easy. As in armed troops at the games in both countries.

So Ray if you got 70% of the first half, Bank it man, it could have been all Air Money anyway, everyone, friend or foe want to see you play here in North America.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, First there was the Doug Fischer article then the Panzeri article. Expect more of them. As far as I am concerned, the Murray PR machine is in full force. It's all about trying to convince the fan base that the team's failure is not his fault. He's fighting for his job.

Canucnik said...

2:35PM Both you guys should also read Graeme@6thSens.

Everyone has some truth in what they are saying. You and your agent could be half the commodity being traded and not know the full details of what went on.

Brian Murray was getting murdered in the back rooms and in the blogosphere for things he had no control over and were not his fault; so sure he's got the PR machine fully open.

What I like to see and read are some of the local scribes breaking from the company line and getting a more accurate story. I think "We" the bloggers had something to do with that. Also when the "BeatGuys" do try to pass the propaganda it becomes immediately obvious to the most casual observer who the source was!

Murray the "younger" and his crew are Chiarelli's equal. (Foligno "the chosen one!" saves everyone's bacon.) Brian will still be the God Father but this is a "solid accomplished crew" here (Mob Speak but true.) We "got" to play this one out there have been too many changes and too much money wasted in Mgmt to this point.

Anonymous said...

Ya it's nice of Foligno to step it up now that the season is in the bag! Great character.

I thought he had great promise 2 years ago, now i say trade him - especially now that he's starting to show some promise bc we might actually get some used pucks for him.

Canucnik said...

Anonymous 4:31PM

You are being so unfair to Nick simply because you said he could never be (1) a second line player (2) He and Fish as a tandem would not work.

Hartsy and his system were a bigger failure than a lot of people thought. We observed him at the prospects camp (never looked for a minute at the backup "Nuts" to his NHL roster.) and then the way they handled Schub.

He had Nick penciled in, in Bingo full time.Until Murray the younger told the big club he is being sent back up. Quiet but forcefull! Hartsburg was now making the scouting staff look bad.

From this point on, Nick Foligno "the Chosen One" will be untouchable as he represents all that is good and wholesome in a "Draft pick" he suceeded when "They" had him failing.

Now when Zubov comes up to join them, I shall be very happy.

PS: First time this year Fisher's line was the best line on the ice. Thanks #71.

PS II: I hate to say I told you so but I told you at a time when they were not dressing him.

Anonymous said...

Canucnik - i never said he could never be (1) a second line player (2) He and Fish as a tandem would not work.

What I said was - nice of him to step up now that the season is in the bag. I feel that was a total lack of character, even keeping in mind the environment was challenging. As a newbie to the show NF should be doing whatever is asked of him (even if its 'hey go to starbucks and get me a coffee') and excelling, or at least putting in his best effort. This, unfortunately, wasnt the case. Same for Fisher - total no show for 1/2 the season. What a joke.

phil said...

'I thought he had great promise 2 years ago, now i say trade him - especially now that he's starting to show some promise bc we might actually get some used pucks for him.'

yeah that makes sense.

you thought he would show some promise. then he showed some promise, and this is why you think he should be traded.


Canucnik said...

Anonymous 4:31PM.

See there are 3 of yaz, all think and express yourselves if not identically then similarly, so I have mentally lumped you all together.

This is a good lesson for us all, you know your picks and prospects, picks and prospects, picks and prospects; Nick is the biggest, most important pick by the Murray team and it was almost bungled by an incompetent coach and they all stood by and watched except for Murray the "Younger" (This man is competent plus, we don't have many.)

Anonymous said...

the pic of Foligno says it all.

To all who say they don't have heart. or don't care, I say FU!!!

Did you ever play the game?

Peter said...

Canuktit - Foligno was picked by Muckler. Or have you lumped all GMs together because they all act, talk and look the same?

mickey said...

Foligno was one of the few players in the sens first round loss to the pens last year that didnt pack it in. If anyone is talking about foligno having a lack of motivation or discipline, take a look at his background, his father (a player full of "heart"), and his off season regimen. It is pretty clear that he better suited to the crash and bang type of game than anything as passive as the trap.

Canucnik said...


This is the last time I shall respond to your mis-spelling my Nick Name.

I stand corrected! However my recollection of the draft table that day had Murray and his team doing the talking and giving the explanation for that pick.

OK, hot shot tell me how it went down and don't tell me it was old John because he used to fall asleep at the table on draft day.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the point that NF mailed it in all season and now starts to give a shit when the season is in the bag?! Same with Fisher. FU to both of them.