Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sens Streak Comes Crashing Down To Earth

The Senators four game winning streak came to a sudden, brutal end with the Vancouver Canucks exploding in the third period to rack up a 6-2 road win on Remembrance Day in the capital.

In short, the Senators got beaten by Roberto Luongo, who was absolutely outstanding and kept his team in the game during a giveaway filled first period. The home side should have had 2 or 3 goals by the end of the second but went in to the third down 2-1 and quickly fell apart.

This is one the Senators just need to forget about. They played well for two periods in front of a shaky but battling Pascal Leclaire who was making his first appearance in a while and if not for the goalie at the other end, the Sens would have been in command of the lead early on.

Sometimes a goalie beats you and there's not much you can do about it.

Unfortunately for Ottawa, the next goalie they face is Tim Thomas in Boston on Saturday night, a guy who could write a War and Peace sized tome on the topic of Senators domination.

Black Aces Senators 3 Stars

1. Peter Regin
2. Jason Spezza
3. Alex Kovalev


What's wrong with Mike Fisher? He looks like he's nursing an injury because he was somewhat invisible Thursday night, and with Milan Michalek struggling to overcome that nagging knee problem, that line is not really competing like they should. Fisher is obviously best when he's skating over other players and causing total mayhem on the forecheck, but we haven't seen that from him in a little while now. Fish was minus 3 on the night with 1 shot on goal. Obviously, not a great night for him.....

Just saying: Toronto Brian Burke is so headstrong and stubborn that he probably won’t fire coach Ron Wilson, even if the Leafs don’t win a game from now until Christmas. This is a guy that simply doesn’t like to back down in public– even if it gets in the way of success (see the Tomas Kaberle situation). But the thought of Boston getting another top 3 overall pick thanks to the Phil Kessel trade may make Burke desperate enough to eat some crow over Wilson and do the right thing. The Leafs simply can’t give the Bruins the opportunity to rub it in their faces once again or they risk becoming a laughingstock.….

...Speaking of laughingstocks, everyone’s having a great time laughing at the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk, especially after that botched shootout attempt against the Sabres on Wednesday night. Kovalchuk is certainly not worth the monstrous contract handed out by Lou Lamoriello, but that shouldn’t disguise the fact that he’s still one of the most dynamic players in the NHL and turned down a similar big contract from the Atlanta Thrashers because he wanted to play for a winner. He's certainly not as bad a player or a guy as some people want to make him out to be. It hasn’t turned out well for Kovy and the Devils in the very early going, but it’s not like he’s going to turn into a 15 goal scorer. In time, he’ll be back near the top of the scoring list and the Devils will once again be a good team, if not this year, then next. But it looks like John MacLean won’t be the guy to guide them. It’s the “assistant coach syndrome”, which also struck assistant-turned head coaches John Paddock, Tony Granato, and others (MacLean did spend a year coaching the Devils AHL affiliate before being named head coach but was an assistant for years with the big team and inherited most of the same players). History keeps inflicting this painful lesson on general managers who are trying to do a good thing by promoting from within. More often than not, it doesn’t really work…

...It’s nice to see Peter Schaefer back in an NHL uniform after a disastrous stint with the Boston Bruins a few seasons ago. While he didn't get to play against his old team on Thursday night, to this day, he’s still the best Ottawa Senator I've ever seen with a puck along the boards playing keep-away. Jesse Winchester is pretty good at that particular skill as well, but Schaefer was just unbelievable. Too bad he wasn’t able to translate that possession time into more offense when he was here. Once in a while though, he would score a beauty like this one…..Every time I watch Roberto Luongo play, I'm always struck by how quickly he turns and whines to the refs every time he gets slightly touched in his net. Maybe that's just his competitive side coming out, but this is also the same guy who threatened to retire if the NHL ever made the nets bigger, even though the idea was only proposed as a worst-case scenario because goalies like Luongo were fighting tooth and nail against reductions in equipment size. Just one look at Luongo's shoulder pads tells you that goalies are still allowed to wear oversized gear that makes a mockery of the game. As I've said many, many times before, you could reduce the catching gloves by half the size and still have adequate protection there. The gloves goalies wear are a complete joke and need to be addressed, even if it makes Luongo take his gear and pout all the way home.....As of press time, no Senators fans were attacked by Rick Rypien. Stay tuned for further information....

Strange but true: On my Tuesday post I wrote this in defense of the shootout:

"To me, they should have went with 5 shooters a side instead of 3 right from the get go. Right now, the shootout is over way too quickly and if one team scores right away, the other side is pretty much doomed. At least with 5 shooters, you use more of your players, lessening the complaint that the shootout goes against the team concept in hockey."

On Wednesday, Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated wrote this in defense of the shootout:

"The problem never has been the shootout. The problem is that NHL 2.0 didn't go far enough with them. Only three shooters per side? Big mistake. Often, you hardly find your rhythm as a fan because the shootout is over so quickly. The league should have instituted a five-per-side format, like a major soccer final. If nothing else, a five-round shootout would have been a partial antidote to the argument that individual competitions are determining the outcome of a team game by involving a mere one sixth of the 18 skaters."
Yes, I'm suing.

I recommend reading the whole article because Farber makes some great points about the shootout and why the NHL should be out there celebrating it, not discussing ways to make it occur less often.


Anonymous said...

You can't help but feel that the Leafs are cursed. It just seems that nothing ever goes right for them. They traded away the picks that became Scott Niedermayer and Roberto Luongo. And now, you can add Tyler Seguin and very likely another top five pick this year.

My gut tells me that the order of firing will go like this: Peddie this year, then Wilson at the end of this year, then Burke at the end of next year. I think that Burke will only get fired because the media will be relentless. They'll see Seguin and likely another high pick, playing for Boston, against Toronto, several times a year. The "what if" stories won't stop.

I don't know if you can say that Paddock had "assistant coach syndrome". He got fired, but his winning percentage was .609 at the time. If we were playing .609 hockey today, fans would be giddy. Shows how much expectations have changed.

I don't follow NJ closely, but I wonder if the Kovalchuk signing and the current turmoil signals big changes to come.

Total speculation on my part, but I looked at Jeff Vanderbeek's (Devil's owner) Wikipedia profile and he's a former Wall Street banker. He's also new blood as far as owners are concerned.

I wonder if he's sitting in his building, with empty seats, thinking "Lou may have built teams that won, but damn are we boring to watch".

Then he looks at another new blood owner like Ted Leonsis in Washington and says "Man, that looks like a real party, I want some of that".

The result being that he pressures Lou Lamoriello to sign Kovalchuk. So far, Kovalchuk doesn't seem to fit Devil's hockey. But, he's got a $100 million contract.

I wonder if traditional Devil's hockey gets tossed into the dustbin, along with Lou, and a new era built completely around Kovalchuk begins within the next year or so. Of course, Lou doesn't get fired, he retires with dignity intact. Maybe we can grab Volchenkov out of the carnage. All speculation, of course.

Count me in the Peter Schaefer fan club. I always liked the guy. I disagree with you about his lack of offense. He provided plenty of offense, given his pay scale. He was making $2M when we traded him. In 2005-06, he was fourth in scoring with 50 points. In 2006-07, he was fifth in scoring with 46 points. That's great value.

We paid Kovalev $5M for 49 points last year. He also finished fourth in scoring.

Jeremy Milks said...

Hey, good point about Schaefer's offensive totals. Actually, I didn't even check his stats when I wrote that and I was suprised to see how many points he actually did get. Impressions are strange like that. Thanks for pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

Actually Jeremy, thanks for writing the blog. You're the one who initiates the conversation. I just comment on what you've written. Keep up the great work.