Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sens Pull Back From Brink Of Disaster

A winless road trip would have been a colossal failure for the Ottawa Senators but thankfully for them, they gutted out a win over the equally hapless Ducks to go home with at least 3 of a possible 10 points.

Some quick notes:

- Jason Spezza responded to Eugene Melnyk's pre-game comments that the Senators "best players have to be our best players". With a goal and an assist, Spezza can only hope that the game is a starting point for an offensive tear that his team so desperately needs from him. Putting Spezza on a line with Alexei Kovalev could prove to be what turns Spezza's season around. While Kovalev is not a sniper in the mould of Dany Heatley, both Spezza and Kovalev think the game alike and should be able to find each other on the ice. Milan Michalek is not the best fit for Spezza's game. Spezza likes to slow things down while Michalek is all guns blazing every time he is on the ice. Daniel Alfredsson is a good fit anywhere because he can play both ways.

- Speaking of Kovalev, he had a better game as well and got the Senators off on the right foot by scoring a beauty backhand goal on the equipment-swollen Jean Sebastien Giguere.

- Brian Elliott was pretty bad again, despite Sportsnet announcer Gary Galley trying to apologize for him. It's true that Elliott made some important saves in the 3rd period but they don't really make up for the three softies he let in at the worst possible moments - all three within one minute of the Senators taking the lead. Ugh. But you can also discard that first goal that bounced off the glass. That could have gone in on any goalie. But when you're struggling as bad as Elliott has been, you don't get the breaks either. Or the benefit of the doubt. Regardless, Coach Clouston must be counting the seconds until Pascal Leclaire gets healthy.

- Elliott is also one of those goalies who refuses to wear neck protection and it nearly cost him in the 3rd period when Cory Perry's skate came across his neck but thankfully thudded off his helmet. Without taking a real poll, I'd say that almost half of the NHL's goalies now go without the plastic neck guard that J.S. Giguere was wearing. It's just a matter of time before we get a Clint Malarchuk redux. You can count on it.

-The referees should be embarrassed of their performance in the 3rd period. It was one of those games where they simply decided that they had called enough penalties and called zero in the 3rd despite a plethora of obvious fouls, such as Perry nailing Anton Volchenkov before the defenseman got near the puck and about a hundred whacks on the arms that Daniel Alfredsson had to endure anytime he was carrying the puck through the neutral zone. The say that you're not allowed to get your stick horizontal on the body of the player carrying the puck. Ottawa got away with a lot of fouls as well. So why no calls? It's the old-fashioned thinking creeping in again where the refs feel like they have to "manage" the game. It's interesting to note that the head of officiating is now ex-ref Terry Gregson after Stephen Walkolm, who very successfully oversaw the new anti-obstruction rules after the lockout, decided to get out of the office and back onto the ice. Has there been an intentional relaxing of the strict guidelines put in place seasons before? One game is not a good sample size but I've noticed that players get away with more obstruction than in season's past. Anyone else notice?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm still bitter that the refs put away their whistles in the 2007 Cup Finals and robbed us of a victory. Anaheim's a chippy team, and so I'm not surprised the refs were asleep in the third. I find they always get away with a lot.

Nice to see Jason get a few points. I still say that Cheech-Spezza-Michalek would be a combo that would work. But, whatever works is good.

Melnyk's comments were fair. But, quite frankly, they are not as meaningful as if someone like Mike Illich called out the Red Wings. The reason is that there's a double standard for management and the players.

It was interesting to hear Jean Beliveau talk about the success of the Montreal Canadiens over the last 100 years. You'd expect a guy as accomplished as him, who played with such great players, to credit the players of the past for the team's success.

But, no. He said it all starts from the top. It starts with ownership and trickles down. He credited ownership.

Organizational excellence is Melnyk's job. He's the quality control manager. It's fair to call out the players. But, it's not as meaningful if he doesn't hold his management team to the same standard.

In Detroit's culture, Murray would have been turfed long ago. The reason is that his work does not meet the standards of excellence.