Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Heart Attack Kids

How's yer blood pressure, Ottawa fans?

For the second game in a row, the Kanata faithful were caught leaving the stands a little too early and failed to witness a mind-bending comeback. Except tonight, it was the visiting team giving everyone heart attacks.

Strangely, the result was the same. Another loss by Ottawa.

Strange is the key word here. It's like Halloween has showed up early.

Ottawa had no business getting a point against Nashville on Thursday but somehow made it happen.

Tonight, Ottawa had no business losing a point against Boston but somehow allowed it to happen.

And the reasons were eerily similar. On Thursday, Matt Carkner was given a penalty in overtime after hauling down a Nashville player who was breaking out of his zone.

Tonight, Anton Volchenkov did virtually the same thing except it was more of an innocent dive for the puck rather than a football tackle that was called for a penalty, allowing Boston to tie the game in the final minute.

It's too bad for Ottawa because they had played a near perfect game for the duration with players like Daniel Alfredsson, Milan Michalek, Mike Fisher, Brian Elliott and Jason Spezza having excellent nights.

Yet after two losses in a row (overtime losses mind you), it's hard to get down on the Senators. Despite a few bizarre moments, this team is moving forward playing some inspired, emotional hockey and have a new star in town with the new Mach 9, Milan Michalek.

Nothing for nothing, but Michalek is starting to remind me of a young Marian Hossa when he was patrolling ice for the Senators in the early part of the decade. You can just see Michalek starting to blossom into the gamebreaker that he was predicted to be.

His goal tonight should have stood as the game winner, but it was fitting that the "Wrecking Ball" Mark Recchi got Boston into a position to tie it up in his 1500th game.

Michalek will have many more nights to shine.

Black Aces Senators 3 Stars

1. Milan Michalek
2. Daniel Alfredsson
3. Mike Fisher

Honorable mentions: Jason Spezza, Brian Elliott and Chris Neil.

Fearless. That's the only way to describe Milan Michalek's drive to the net in the first period. Mark Stuart drove Michalek into Tim Thomas and the collision was very, very scary. There was only two ways that play could have ended up - with Michalek scoring a breathtaking goal or with Michalek going head first into Thomas. Lesser players could have hedged their bets by not cutting to the inside to avoid injury. The new "Mach 9" doesn't have the word "hedge" in his vocabulary.......

A question that has been nagging at me for many years now: Who is that woman in the stands at every Senators home game which the cameras go to after the Senators score? You know - she has blond hair and is often seen high-fiving her kid next to her.They go to her so often right after the goals that she has become the team's unofficial 2nd mascot. If she is not the biggest Senators fan in the rink every game, I don't who is. In fact, along with the Senators theme song, the image of her jumping up and down in the stands has become a team tradition...... Matt Carkner is such a good dude that even the guys he fights have a laugh with him in the penalty boxes afterwards. That was the case after the scrap with Shawn Thornton, who gave Carkner his toughest scrap of the year. In fact, I'd give the nod to Thornton in that one.......There would no smiles from Steve Begin after he tangled with Chris Neil. Begin took a single punch and hit the ice. As Georges Laraque once said of Neil, pound for pound, he's one of the toughest players in the league. And under Cory Clouston, the first coach to believe in him since Bryan Murray was permanently on the bench, Neil is back to being the force he was in 2007. Give Murray credit. When everyone was ready to throw Neil under the bus, Murray saw his true value and now he gets to reap the rewards......

The HNIC cameras caught Mike Fisher and the Big Z having a friendly conversation in the hallways before the game. Then Fisher took a run at him in the 1st period without making much of a dent.......Erik Karlsson isn't making the big plays that everyone may have expected after a stellar training camp, but at least he is starting to make important small ones. He still makes mistakes like his giveaway on the powerplay in the 2nd period, but his overall decision making seems to be getting better and more natural as the games start to pile up..........

B's coach Claude Julien let the Boston Herald know that he respects the job Cory Clouston and the Senators have done to get back into contention this season:

"(Clouston)’s come in and taken a hard-nosed approach. It’s my way or else,” Julien said. “Dany Heatley didn’t want to buy in, so they decided, ‘Hey, we’re not changing coaches this time, we’ll go with the players who want to play it (Clouston’s) way.’ With the way guys have bought in, you’re seeing what’s come out of that. With their whole approach to the game, they’re a lot grittier than they have ever been.”.....

Ottawa native Todd White is off to a bad start with the Thrashers this season. In 7 games he has 1 assist and is a minus 5. But there is hope. He was placed back on the "Little White Russian" line with Bryan Little and Slava Kozlov, who together had a lot of success last season. You have to wonder if someday White ends his career in a Senators uniform. It would be a nice end to a surprisingly productive career. What's helped the little guy along the way? As former Senator teammate Jason York said on the Team 1200, it's his "huge butt".........

There was a great feature on the revamped Vancouver Canucks dressing room prior to the start of the game on HNIC. They made the room smaller and circular so the players have a more intimate setting to interact in. They also made it so that the players have to go through the lounge area in order to get out of the building, probably making it harder to leave without having a few laughs with the guys after the game. I find little psychological touches like that really interesting and rarely covered by the media. So how about the Ottawa Senators in this regard? One thing to note is how the organization has painted everything red, gold and black in the arena, including the hallways and the fitness room. The dressing room itself is largely red and black. A quick perusal of the main tenets of colour psychology tells us that reds, along with yellows (gold) and oranges seem to ignite passion and emotion (and aid digestion!). Black on the other hand can invoke a lethargic or depressing emotion and drain emotional energy but it is also associated with self-discipline. It must be strange for the players to walk into the arena in the middle of a cold, dark winter morning and be surrounded by red and black everywhere they look. The Canucks room is a cool and light blue and the lounge area is bright and clean. So what does it all mean? Well, I have no idea. Probably nothing. But one thing I will never understand is why teams put a massive logo on the dressing room floor and then ban the players from stepping on it. But again, that's an area for the sports psychologists. The professional life of an athlete is a series of tests both off and on the playing surface. Why should the dressing room be any different?.........


SCSF said...

Nice post. Definitely a game that slipped away needlessly. Hopefully that motivates us against Boston for the rest of the season series.

Volchenkov made a couple of errors on his last few shifts in the third. We're asking an awful lot from him. Hopefully Kuba will lighten the load a bit when he returns, but I'm doubtful.

Thought it was odd that Spezza got the call before Michalek as an overtime shooter. If nothing else, Michalek is absolutely devastating on breakaways...

Caught the game on CI, and they were only broadcasting the Boston (NESN) feed. Very objective coverage, with the possible exception of that Carkner fight. They were calling every single shot and feint by Thornton... it was really funny. It's nice when you can tell that commentators are enjoying a game. So many broadcasts these days have become clinincal, Joe Buck-like in nature.

Anonymous said...

They've played 9 games now. Send Karlsson back to Sweden. It makes no sense to burn a year of his contract. He will not help us contend this year. We are not contenders.

If we send him back, three years from now we will have him as a top 4 d-man for a $1.3M cap hit. That's how you build a contender. You need some young guys on cheap contracts who are key players.

If we burn a year, three years from now he will be a cap hit between $3M and $4M, if he turns into a decent player. That extra money could instead go towards a better forward or a stud on D.

In the cap world, it is stupid to burn a year of his contract when we don't need to.

Anonymous said...

Just to add to my previous comment, over the next few days, Bryan Murray gets to show if he understands how to manage in the cap world, or if he's still stuck in the pre-cap NHL.

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