Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Goaltending Quickly Becoming An Issue In Ottawa.... What Else Is New?

Boston 5 Ottawa 2

The shots on goal total say it all here. Ottawa 49 - Boston 29.

This game came down to goaltending and as usual, Tim Thomas of the Bruins, who "likes the lighting" in the Kanata rink, dominated the Senators with 47 saves and a .959 save percentage.

On the other hand, Craig Anderson was dismal on Wednesday night and couldn't stop Patrice Bergeron on a breakaway when the Senators needed him to step up and bail them out on a tough play.

You could point to the fact that Ottawa was missing three of its better and more experienced players in Milan Michalek, Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba, but how much of a difference could they have made when Anderson was beat cleanly on multiple shots with no deflections?

Anderson has played in 28 games so far this season and he's had a sub .900 save percentage in 14 of those games. That's exactly half for those who didn't pass Grade 10.

But it's tough to bury Anderson when his defense is giving away pucks all night as they have throughout the season but he also hasn't made a habit of stealing games and unfortunately that's the type of goaltender Ottawa needs this year to make the playoffs.

Things won't get any easier with Pittsburgh rolling into Kanata on Friday. Last time Anderson faced the Penguins he gave up four goals on eight shots in just under ten minutes.

Black Aces Senators 3 Stars

1. Jared Cowen (team high 27 minutes of solid play)
2. Daniel Alfredsson (responded to being put back on first line)
3. Jason Spezza (dangerous late in the game and 2 points)


Only a veteran media guy like Darren Pang could actually appear nervous when getting introduced from between the benches at the start of the game. As he kept talking throughout the first period, my wife, who doesn't pay any attention to hockey whatsoever, gave me a strange look and asked if that was some teenage kid talking. Instead of trying to explain, I just said yes. That's no knock against Panger. Not many love the game more than that guy, plus he's a good Ottawa boy (as Don Cherry would say if he was fond of talking about good ol' Ottawa boys).....One of the reasons they put media guys between the benches is so we can hear things like Pang relating how the whole Ottawa bench visibly sagged and lowered their heads when Craig Anderson let in a softie to Rich Peverly in the first period. It would be interesting if the cameras panned to the benches after goals instead of going to the "goat cam" which focuses on the guy who made the mistake (although they tend to get it wrong almost 50% of the time).......How long until the Senators make a white counterpart to their new heritage uni's and those become the home and away set with the current red the "new" third jersey? I'd give it two more years....What's the deal with this logo anyways? They've used it on some merchandise but not on an actual jersey. And we can all be thankful for that. It's pretty terrible compared to the logo they were obviously trying to "modernize"....What is it about Twitter that brings out the Dwight Schrute in everyone?.....

.......It's amazing that people still seem so surprised and outraged that NHL players actually get concussions. The fact that two recent high profile players were injured by accidental collisions with teammates has just added to the confusion. If we could all pull our heads out of our asses for one minute and use some common sense, we'd quickly realize that hockey is a physical, athletic sport which requires the participants to hit each other in various ways to retrieve the puck. This will always lead to injuries, some of them serious. You can tweak the rules and the equipment but concussions are here to stay. At some point we should probably get over it and accept it as a normal outcome of sports. As Cam Cole noted in a widely read column today: "It may turn out that the NHL, in all its misguided, deceitful stubbornness, was accidentally right all along. Maybe concussions really are just the cost of doing business, and we — and they — had better get used to losing the best players, who have the puck the most and therefore are the most vulnerable. What can you do? It’s a kind of natural selection. Charles Darwin wrote about it." And we're just realizing this now? People need to get over their bogus "spectator guilt" and accept the game for what it is at the root level. The players accept it readily. So should the fans and the media......

.....With the Big Bad Bruins in town, that gives us a flimsy excuse to look at old Bruins hockey cards. This 54-55 Topps Milt Schmidt would make a pretty nice print to hang on your wall, don't you think?

Here's a few more:  57-58 Topps Johnny Bucyk, 33-34 O Pee-Chee Eddie Shore, 71-72 O Pee-Chee Phil Esposito, 73-74 O Pee-Chee Derek Sanderson, 79-80 O Pee-Chee Peter McNab , 33-34 O Pee-Chee Tiny Thompson, 81-82 O Pee-Chee Mike Milbury, 54-55 O Pee-Chee Fern Flaman, 71-72 O Pee-Chee Bobby Orr.....

.....Scary bout between Matt Carkner and Milan Lucic in the first period. Every time I see Lucic start throwing the hammers, I expect to see his opponent lying on the ice, even when it's a heavyweight like Carkner. I'll give the scrap to Lucic on punches landed but Carkner got the last laugh - literally. I wonder what he said to crack the linesman up as he was getting escorted away.....Ex-Senators goalie Brian Elliott is having a hell of a comeback season in St. Louis. Yet, like all goalies, Elliott will hit a tough patch and it will be interesting to see how he responds. He didn't handle those down times very well in Ottawa but when things were going well, he could look unbeatable. In a way, Elliott reminds me of a guy like Brian Boucher (now in the Carolina Hurricanes organization). When Boucher got hot, it was unbelievable what he could do in a limited stretch of games. Then he'd go into the tank in a spectacular way and have to build himself back up. Maybe Elliott's career will go in a different direction and this is just the start of a natural maturation process. Think of how amazing a story it would be if he won the Vezina trophy this June. Don't laugh, it could happen.


Anonymous said...

I think Anderson's been pretty disappointing as well. But, in his defence, he's been good at shootouts and that has led directly to points in the standings.

In years past, shootouts were a write-off for the Sens. At least now, it seems that Anderson's as good as anyone in those situations. Hopefully, he gets better in the games themselves.

Speaking of goaltending issues, how does the record of 19-3-2 sound as a solution to our goaltending issues. That's the combined record of Emery (7-1-2) and Elliott (12-2-0).

I'm biased because I'm a big Emery supporter, but as far as I'm concerned that should have been our goaltending tandem at this point if the team was managed carefully.

Emery was drafted in 2001 and Elliott was drafted in 2003. They both came up through the minors. They were both AHL All-Stars. They both made the NHL through hard work. They both had promising careers with the Sens. And they were both wrecked by management.

And they are now both helping other organizations.

I don't agree with you that Elliott is Brian Boucher. I think that he is much better. I do agree with you that he has a shot at the Vezina. Also, don't be surprised if Emery starts for the Hawks in the playoffs. He somehow always lands the starting gig, through injury or whatever.

Concussions may be here to stay, but that doesn't mean that people should sit on their hands and not try to improve player safety. A lot is being done, and hopefully it continues.

I think that because all this is somewhat new territory, people are being hypersensitive and that's normal.

I've been hit in the head before and felt dizzy afterwards and thought nothing of it. I'm still fine today. If the same thing happens to me again, you can bet that I'll be in full panic mode thinking that I'm concussed, and on the way to brain damage.

It'll probably be nothing. But, there's a new level of awareness and I think people are adjusting to the new reality and it'll settle down after a while. And when it settles down, behaviour patterns will be different as well.

People won't instinctively aim at the head, rather they will instinctively avoid the head. And, the culture of celebrating a player as a warrior because he plays through a serious head injury (like Ian Laperriere a couple of years ago), will instead be replaced by a culture of saying "are you nuts, dude".

Jeremy Milks said...

Good points, all. While I was never big on Elliott, if you've followed this blog for awhile you'll know I enjoyed watching Ray Emery. I've never been a big fan of goalies but I do like the guys who don't fit the mould - Dominik Hasek, Emery, Tim Thomas, Patrick Roy.

Anonymous said...

If you like guys who don't fit the mould, I think you'd love Ilya Bryzgalov, based alone on his 24/7 performance last night.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anderson needing to be better for us to have a good shot at the playoffs. However, I would argue what's the point? So we can abort the rebuild already? Andy's a good goalie and we have him for a while. I'd rather see us build a contender than be the team that the Pens practice on in the 1st round.
Something doesn't seem right about expecting your goalie to steal you games night after night.