Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sens Collapsing Down The Stretch.. Hungry Raccoons... Plus Painfully Etched Game Notes

St. Louis 3 Ottawa 1

Right about now seems as good a time as any to outright panic.

And why not? As an Ottawa Senators fan, you have every reason to start breathing heavily and climbing the walls.

As we’ve seen over the past few years, when things start to go south for the Ottawa Senators, it doesn’t seem to stop until they reach the outer gates of hell.

They can’t just have bad goaltending. They have to have goaltending so puerile that even Don Rickles would feel bad making fun of it.

They can’t just lose to their biggest rival across the province. No. They have to go out and get bulldozed on Hockey Night In Canada as they’ve done countless times against the Leafs, usually when just the opposite kind of game is vitally needed.

They can’t just lose two, maybe three games in a row. They must go on some kind of self-annihilating quest of nothing less than five games in the tank which wipes out whatever gains they made when they were playing like one of the best teams in the league.

There’s no middle ground, which is where most NHL teams call home, a comfortable place where you can drop a few games in a row without spinning into some kind of confidence destroying bender that blows the minds of even the most reasonable hockey analysts on the planet.

Coming this late into a season where Ottawa had only suffered one such abysmal plunge (back in October), a seven game losing streak would be a massive surprise if these weren’t the Ottawa Senators we all know and love.

Yet it’s not a funeral procession just yet. Shockingly, the Senators are still a playoff team after tonight’s loss with a two point lead on the Florida Panthers, who fell out of their third place spot as Southeast Division leaders, overtaken by the Washington Capitals.

Despite Craig Anderson’s weak goaltending tonight against the Blues, the Senators showed way more emotion and drive than they did against the Leafs on Saturday night. Usually, that’s the first sign a turnaround is on the way.

When teams get into these death spirals, they always seem to lose one or two games at the end that they deserved to win. It’s a bit like turning around a canoe with a turd for a paddle. You’ll get where you want to go but it’ll take three times the rowing.

Or something like that.

Let’s see how this group responds against the Nashville Predators on what should be a proud night for the franchise as they celebrate Chris Phillips being the second ever player to suit up in the red and black for 1000 games. If there’s a game the Senators have to win, even if half the team has to spend the night on IV’s because they gave too much blood, then it’s against the Predators on Thursday night.

If they don’t pull that one off, there’s no telling how bad this could get.

Black Aces Senators 3 Stars

1. Daniel Alfredsson
2. Sergei Gonchar
3. Colin Greening

Despite having a tough year down in Bingo, you have to wonder if GM Bryan Murray has at least pondered the idea of giving Robin Lehner a game or two if Anderson and Alex Auld’s troubles continue. Do you risk pissing off Anderson and possibly sending him further into a funk or do you gamble that a Lehner promotion will give Anderson some focus that may not be there with Auld as his nonthreatening backup? It’s a bit of a psychological game with the goaltending right now. A Lehner callup might signal to the players that management is panicking which could make things worse for everybody. Or, as these things sometimes do, it could work out that Lehner gives them a small charge and they ride him until the adrenalin wears off.... According to Jeremy Rutherford at STLtoday.com, David Perron of the Blues walked into a Hockey Life store in Ottawa on Monday night in an anonymous fashion and started ripping pucks at the net set up by the hockey stick racks, blowing the mind of the store clerk who apparently had no idea who he was.....

..... My wife, the wildlife lover, made me take a bowl of old cantaloupe slices out to the backyard during the game to throw into the bush “for the racoons”. The second my foot hit the icy back step I was flat on my back with exploded melon as far as the eye could see. My wife heard it, came to see what happened and proceeded to laugh her ass off. As I lay in the snow and water, I hear Dean Brown call the St. Louis Blues second goal from the living room. Meanwhile my neck and elbow are basically done for good. I hope those raccoons enjoy their f***ing cantaloupe tonight..... The Sportsnet cameras caught Craig Anderson applying some lip balm as he sat in the locker room before the game. The question is whether Andy is a cherry, strawberry or vanilla guy.….. Some old-school hockey in New York tonight as there were two separate fights right off the opening faceoff between the Rangers and Devils. Makes you wonder – if Glen Sather and Lou Lamoriello went toe-to-toe in the hallway, no blocking, just one of those hammer jobs, who do you think would win? I’ll take Sather in a close one. That cigar chomping bit gives him the edge over college man Lou….

..... Scary scene today on the Ottawa transitway when two buses collided. Anyone who takes the bus down the transitway probably at one point or another wondered when this would happen. For the most part, buses fly through there at up to 100 km hour with no barrier between lanes in case a driver made a mistake. I don't know all the details of how the accident happened but when you hear the roar of another bus hurtling just inches away past your window, you end up imagining a few really bad scenarios, much worse than the usual stuff like the guy sitting next to you falling asleep on your shoulder and breathing in your face, which happens to my brother almost every night after work..... The Islanders made a smart move by re-signing Frans Nielsen for four years at $11 million. I always thought Nielsen should have been a Red Wing with the style he plays. He might have even ended up there if he went to UFA this summer. Would have looked good in Ottawa too for the second or third line.....

.... Hearing about longtime Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff having three ribs broken during an accident in practice and Oilers boss Tom Renney getting beaned by a puck in the head may remind Senators fans of when assistant coach Ron Low collided with rookie Nick Foligno during a drill in 2007 and hit his head on the ice which caused a pretty serious injury. Most coaches just wear a track suit, a whistle and hockey gloves on the ice during practice which means at least one goes down hard every year or two. But don't expect them to start putting the gear on. Can you imagine a coach being taken seriously by players when he's wearing a helmet and visor out there? It's just not gonna happen..... It's funny, but even just ten years ago you could conceivably go on the internet and read most of the major papers and come away feeling like you had digested all the hockey news out there. Now, you could spend six hours on the web and only catch a quarter of the hockey commentary out there. It's mindblowing how many people are writing about the NHL today.....Down in Bingo, Francis Lessard has 132 PIM's in just 34 games. You don't meet too many guys named Francis anymore.....

..... All this losing must be nudging coach Paul MacLean out of Jack Adams Trophy territory. There's still time but the voters won't like this big scar in the middle of the schedule..... Leave it to Matt Carkner to come up with the best line of the day when he told TSN that he hoped he would get switched up front so he could try to run former teammate Brian Elliott..... Speaking of running St. Louis goaltenders, I can't help but think of the 1996 playoffs when Leaf Nick Kypreos ran Blues goalie Grant Fuhr and tore up the Hall of Famer's knee, putting him out for the rest of the season. There doesn't seem to be video of it anymore on You Tube but rest assured it was a vicious act on the part of Kypreos. Still, it didn't exactly work out for the Leafs. Jon Casey came in and finished off Toronto before falling to the Red Wings in the second round off the famous Steve Yzerman goal in double-overtime of Game 7. Simply, one of the best shots ever taken in an NHL game. Perfection. This goal also ended Wayne Gretzky's short stay in Missouri.


Anonymous said...

I'm not worried. The law of averages usually holds true. The Sens have lost too many in a row, so a win is just around the corner.

Besides, the Sens were facing the Blues and the karma police at the same time, for the way the Elliott saga unfolded. That's a lot to handle.

Next game is a win. The Phillips celebration should provide a nice boost. Let's hope that the positive reception that Fisher will receive will make him feel so touchy feely that he eases up on us a bit.

Lastly, I don't agree with your analysis of a Lehner call up. If they think that he gives us a better chance to win games, you play him. Plain and simple.

The only signal that matters is one that lets the guys know that you are committed to win.

Ange said...

The ol' raccoon compost.

The Dutch Treat said...

Regarding your thoughts on Lehner, this has been another wasted year of development on the "chosen one".

Injuries and poor play have AGAIN relegated him to the bench in Binghamton. He's in no position to be called up because he can't even win the starter job from a journeyman in Mike McKenna. What message does it send if you call him up now. Poor play gets rewarded?

If anything, Murray should have picked Nittymaaki off of waivers as soon as it became evident that Maclean had no faith in Auld for even spot duty. He then should have placed Auld on waivers himself to give him a chance elsewhere.

Oh yeah, and Carkner has become useless on this team.

worsteverything said...

Love this blog. First bit mirrors exactly where I'm at. Cant just have a hometown team gotta have the team wedged between the two oldest franchises in the league with two of the most obnoxious fanbases. One with a superiority complex the other with an inferiority complex. A nice combo.
Cant just go on losing streaks they have to be total epics. I mean, its not like there's a ton at stake this season but last night I went from thinking "ahh they'll turn it around" to "mmm, not outside the realm of possibility that they could go a solid 10 straight"
Actually caught myself being pretty mad about it this morning and had to laugh at myself a little like "you need to relax about this stuff a bit man" Anyway, I thought they played pretty well the last night but hot mess they have to get scoring right quick.