Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The Backhander Feb. 6 - Vacation Bound
Note: I’ll be out of country on vacation for a week so Black Aces will be back around the 15th or the 16th of February while I’m getting inebriated in the sun without an internet connection. In my head I’m already on the beach but I thought I’d get in a few words before I head out.
The Senators next three games at home are all winnable – Carolina, Winnipeg and Buffalo – before they go into Pittsburgh on a back-to-back next Wednesday. If they could get those six points, or even 5 out of 6, Ottawa will have a comfortable cushion on a playoff spot that will offset some expected dry spells without Jason Spezza in the lineup. It’s a certainty the Senators will lose games directly because they don’t have Spezza driving the offense. He’s that important. But if you get on a roll here at home and beat the teams you should, it really gives this team breathing room while they wait for #19. They could lose 3 or 4 games in a row later this month and still be alive. Carolina will be tough but Ottawa has better luck with them in Kanata than they do in Raleigh. The Jets straight up stink on the road, even though they stole one in Ottawa last January. The Sabres are a mess right now and Ottawa always plays them well. Six points is not out of the question.... Which makes you wonder if Ben Bishop is going to get one of those games. My guess is he gets the Jets on Saturday but or maybe even Buffalo on Tuesday which would allow Paul Maclean to save Craig Anderson for the Penguins the next night...
Strange how hockey fortunes go. Peter Regin was given a chance as a second line centre and looked intimidated and ineffective in two consecutive losses against Carolina and Montreal. Next game he gets dropped to the fourth line and starts making great plays, resulting in two assists and an increase in shifts and ice-time. Is it a coincidence or is it the sudden decrease in pressure? Whatever it is, it’s working. I doubt Regin will get another chance to play in the top-six until the Sens lose a game or two and the chess pieces are moved around, but there’s nothing wrong with having a playmaker on your 4th line going against the opponent’s worst defensive pairings. There’s a really good hockey player hiding in Regin (remember Sidney Crosby praising him a few years ago after their last playoff meeting?) but we’re all still waiting for him to appear. I don’t know why I’ve spent so much time talking about him this week Regin is an interesting guy. You get that gnawing feeling that even if he doesn’t prove himself and the Senators let him walk this summer, he’ll show up somewhere and be a top-six guy eventually..... Nice to see Daniel Alfredsson back. It took him a few weeks but he’s been dangerous for the last two games and was the best player on the ice against Buffalo last night – or was it Erik Karlsson who deserves that status? The scary thing is Karlsson thinks he hasn’t played his best game yet. Imagine if he played in Toronto or Montreal? There wouldn’t be a bigger name in hockey right now.....
.... Thank the hockey gods that we get to witness at least one or two franchise train wrecks every years. It’s kind of a nasty thing to say, but it’s undeniably fun to see a team like the Washington Capitals collapse, the same way a lot of fans surely enjoyed Ottawa’s own disaster zone a few years ago. I don’t want to see someone like Adam Oates lose their job, but it’s fascinating how once great teams can fall on such hard times. It wasn’t that long ago that Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green were the hip kids of the NHL. Now they’re openly ridiculed with non-D.C. fans cheering on every loss, wondering how far it can go before all hell breaks loose. I know that when I read out of town hockey news, I’m immediately checking out the Washington, Buffalo or Philadelphia papers ahead of anything out of San Jose or Chicago. There’s not much to say when a team’s going good, the same way I find it harder to write about Ottawa after a win than it is after a loss (as you can see by this slight piece of fluff today). There’s a lot of people kicking Ovechkin and Green on their way down, but if Pittsburgh was similarly struggling, there would be a lot of sympathy for guys like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The reason? The Caps stars struck fans as cocky, even arrogant. The same can’t be said for Crosby and Malkin who have always appeared more humble.... Speaking of fallen stars, it’s hard to watch Tyler Myers play hockey nowadays. The Sabres, and their long suffering fans deserve a better fate than seeing their future franchise player come unravelled like that. Lindy Ruff has to get that kid back on track or he’s going to finally lose his job. Even Ryan Miller can’t bail out a defense that’s playing that poorly.
See you folks next week.