Friday, November 30, 2007
The reason for this is easy to see. Despite the apparent fact that the Senators have stopped trying, The Gerber is still tied for the league-lead with 13 wins. The man's record is 13-3-1, for crying out loud! Why would head coach John Paddock want to mess with that any more than he already has?
So far this season, Ray Emery has not been impressive. Last season, when The Gerber faltered, Rayzor earned the starter's job and ran with it. If he wants it this year, Emery is going to have to work a lot harder than he appears to be right now to get it.
The Gerber, on the other hand, is still in good shape. Sure, he had an off-night against the Predators, but so did the rest of the team. Mike Fisher, Dean McAmmond, Chris Kelly... most players who are expected to make easy plays didn't do what they have to do, and that's why the team lost.
So, unlike some people (cough*BEN*cough), I'm hoping The Gerber takes the opportunity Paddock has given him and proves he's the goaltender that I think he is.
And if not, well... then we'll have to keep alternating until one goalie decides to step up and be the starter.
I place this loss squarely on the shoulders of Martin Gerber, who should have been able to keep the Sens in this game in the final minute. All of goals were weak, and Gerber looked helpless on all of them. He was out of position and unprepared for rebound chances.
Andrej Meszaros, who I was about to remove all my grudges from because of his two-goal game, was not a force in this game and looked weak as well. Is he trying to keep his price down so that he can stay in Ottawa at the end of the season?
On th plus side, it looks like Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza are working together like a well-oiled machine once again, and this should spell the end of the losing streak, as soon as the goaltending an defenders get back to normal.
He's human after all.
TSN.ca is reporting that Anton Volchenkov has broke his finger and will not return to the Sens' lineup for up to four weeks. Considering how tough a defenceman he is, I'll say he'll be back in two and a half.
Black Aces hits the nail on the head regarding Paddock's decisions surrounding the Sens next game Saturday against the NY Rangers. How could Emery not start that game after a poor game from Gerber? Well, because Paddock hates Emery, and, apparently, winning.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Andrej Meszaros scored two goals, including one with less than two minutes left to tie the game and send it to extra time. Samson is having a great year, thanks to those curly locks of hair he's allowed to grow back.
The big reason for the Isles win was their suffocating trap play. But that's not an excuse; the Sens have enough firepower to break through the trap.
Ray Emery had an average to poor game, and will not play tonight against the Predators. Looks for Martin Gerber to step up and regain the starting job.
What a terrible shootout. No dekes, only one goal for the Sens, and I'm pretty sure three shooters missed the net completely. When will Joe Corvo get a shot in one of these?
One note that makes it almost bearable is that the lovable one-time Senator Mike Sillinger scored the shootout winner.
Hopefully the Sens don't hit the low-point of their season against Nashville tonight. That's what happened in a 6-0 loss to the Preds last year.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
While I'm disappointed to see Sputnik sent back down, I think Foggie might be the most appropriate replacement for Patrick Eaves while Eaves is out with that shoulder injury. He plays a style more like Eaves did, and is more accustomed to the pace and style of the North American game.
Still, I don't think Sputnik was given much of a chance to succeed in his short stint in the NHL. Head coach John Paddock gave him less than 10 minutes over two games to show what he can do. And the Sens ended up losing those games anyway, so what would there have been to lose if he'd been given more ice time?
Oh well, good for Foligno. With 5 assists in 6 games for the B-Sens, maybe he'll have a bit more offensive ability in the big league.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Fresh in the mind of all Senators' fans is the Steve Downie incident, where he threw a cheapshot breaking every rule in the book to give Dean McAmmond a concussion earlier in the season. Here is a list of the shit we've seen from this Philadelphia Flyers organization so far in this young season:
- Sept. 25, 2007: Downie crushes McAmmond into the boards, jumping at him, leading with his elbow, and hitting Deaner from behind, is suspended 20 games.
- Oct. 10, 2007: Jesse Boulerice cross-checks Canucks' Ryan Kesler in the face, suspended 25 games.
- Oct. 27, 2007: Randy Jones hits Boston's Patrice Bergeron face-first into the boards, breaking his nose and giving him a concussion; suspended two games.
- Nov. 26, 2007: Scott Hartnell elbows Boston's Andrew Alberts to the head while Alberts is in a vulnerable position, suspension hearing forthcoming.
It gets to a point where you have to question what to what extent Flyers' head coach John Stevens is accountable for the actions of his players. Not to suggest he's telling his players to injure their opponents with dirty hits, but inaction can also be a fault if you've got the chance to prevent something and you fail to do so.
I have to wonder what a skilled player like Daniel Briere thinks when he sees so many of his teammates suspended for such heinous demonstrations. Can't be anything good, that is for sure.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
However, the 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night was ugly. It appeared that the Sens, who had a very light schedule during their winning streak, are now being bogged down by the repetition of playing nearly every-other night.
Playing without Daniel Alfredsson obviously impacted the team as they lacked the offensive spark that the Spalfedheat line usually brings. In particular, Jason Spezza was not his normal no-look-drop-pass self. Even Dany Heatley's awesome slapshot goal lacked some creativity (now I'm really nitpicking).
Martin Gerber let in a couple of weak goals, but so did Antero Niittymaki, so let's cut Darth Gerber some slack, and not put the loss entirely on his shoulders. On the plus side, Ray Emery allowed only one goal in his half-game of work. All things considered, however, the goaltending situation for the Sens is significantly less rosy than it was a week ago.
After switching Gerber out, I thought the Sens could have pulled the game together into a win. Apparantly, the spark was missing against Philly, and not even a solid game by Wade Redden could bring it back.
I expect this to be the last we'll see of the now-famous Black Mask - you heard it here first.
Friday, November 23, 2007
After his NHL debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday--where he was -2 in just over 5 minutes of ice time, with no points or shots--the 22 year-old Russian prospect updated his blog. Among other things, he said:
"Honestly, I don’t really want to talk about such an NHL debut. That wasn’t how I’d imagined it. I can’t be proud of my actions against the Penguins. However, I’ll try to push away everything negative, come to some conclusions, and try my hardest next game to display everything I’m capable of."
I think the fanbase Sputnik has gathered is a result of the vulnerability he shows in his blog, demonstrating his challenging times he's faced with, but always putting an optimistic spin on the situation. At least in my case, I find it so interesting to hear a true account of a player coming from another culture to offer his experiences. To further demonstrate his positive outlook, Nikulin ended the entry by explaining how the glass remains half-full:
"All in all, not the best of moods. But there is time before the next game to collect myself. On Friday we didn’t have a practice on the ice, just the gym for those that wanted it. And on Saturday a game against Philadelphia. I’m hoping it will be successful for me and the team."
Go Sputnik! I sure hope he gets a bit more than the 5:46 he got against Pittsburgh.
NB: I saw Daniel Briere and Martin Biron at Lone Star on Friday night. I didn't happen to see if they ordered fajitas or some food that will make them sluggish for their game against the Sens on Saturday, but here's hoping they did.
Turns out El Capitano's groin injury will keep him out for at least one game. At some point in the overtime period against the Penguins on Thursday, Daniel Alfredsson aggravated his groin and is stated as day-to-day. Head coach John Paddock says it's highly unlikely Alfie will play against Philadelphia on Saturday.
Hopefully Randy Robitaille is ready to return from his back injury, because it's going to be a while before Patrick Eaves can return. Apparently my previous statement of 2-4 weeks for Eaves might have been optimistic, and apparently it could be twice that much. Too bad for him, too, as he's been playing some of his best hockey.
If Ropes Robitaille is unable to return, someone will have to be recalled from Bingo. Nick Foligno, who is averaging a point a game in Binghamton after a two-assist game yesterday, seems the most likely callup, but I've been surprised before.
Also, Martin Gerber will be starting once again on Saturday. Even though he played a bad game on Thursday, it would seem Paddock wants to give The Gerber an opportunity to redeem himself before he gives Ray Emery a shot to run with the starting job. Given his 13-3 record, I would say that The Gerber has earned the opportunity.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
It would seem the Sens are so generous that they're losing games to teams with front office staff on the chopping block. With a loss to the Capitals on Nov. 8, our considerate guys delayed the inevitable firing of head coach Glen Hanlon, although not for long (he got fired Nov. 22). Dropping a game 3-0 to Toronto has further delayed the firings of Paul Maurice and John Ferguson Jr. And finally tonight, losing to Pittsburgh has given Michel Therien a stay of execution. And you know what? It's all well and good to be charitable once in a while, but sometimes you have to think about your own record.
Martin Gerber did not play his best game. He did play well at times, especially at the end of the game to keep it 5-5. I'm not certain you can blame The Gerber for any of the goals, but he certainly didn't do anything outstanding. He was also as angry as I've ever heard him after the game, explaining the rulebook to the referees and off-ice officials regarding the shootout; Erik Christensen's shot was initially stopped, and that is (apparently) when the play should stop, whether the shooter or the tender knocks the puck in.
For some reason, after the Sens went up 2-0 in the first (chasing Marc-Andre Fleury from the net in the meantime), coach John Paddock screwed up with the lines, and that may very well have opened up the door for a Penguin comeback.
Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley played well. Spetzky tripled his goal total on the season (he now has three) and added an assist, while Heater scored a nice goal; both were +1 when all was said and done.
Then there's Daniel Alfredsson, who notched three assists. Awesome. But in the overtime period, Alfie aggravated his groin. The extent of his injury is not yet known, and he's apparently going to sleep on it to see how it feels, but here's to hoping he's just fine. With Randy Robitaille and Patrick Eaves already injured, we don't need another guy off the roster, especially not one as valuable to this team as the captain.
With regards to the Sputnik watch: regrettable game for Alexander Nikulin, although not because he played poorly, simply unfortunate circumstances in which he found himself. After Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros both pinched into the offensive zone, Nikulin was left as the last man back to defend against Evgeni Malkin on a 1-on-1. No offense to Sputnik, but it was a bit of a mismatch, and it showed (Malkin smoked him and scored on The Gerber off a breakaway). In the end, Sputnik finished -2 in just over five minutes of ice time, and I don't think he had an opportunity to redeem himself in the second or third periods. I do hope Paddock gives him another chance next game, though, because he's got some potential.
Speaking of Redden and Meszaros, they both played good games (aside from the aforementioned play). One assist each, Reds was +1, and Samson (thus called because without his locks of hair, Meszaros is powerless--see last season) was even on plus/minus.
You know what else was weird? How well Shean Donovan was playing before Paddock made him ride the pine for the last half of the game. I guess it was because he got three penalties, but the refereeing was questionable all night (Stephan Auger, consider yourself on notice). Oh yeah, Joe Corvo played a pretty good game, too.
I think that every time Colby Armstrong steps on the ice I hate him more. I guess that's his job, but holy crap I might hate him even more than anyone else in the league this side of Steve Downie--and yes, that includes Darcy Tucker. After that hit on Eaves in the playoffs last year, and the fact that he's so damned ugly really doesn't help his case.
In the shootout... I don't really want to talk about it. Sweet goal from Spezza on the first shot, then a bogus goal by Christensen, and after Heatley and Dean McAmmond both hit the post, Jarkko Ruutu scores the winner. How embarassing.
Other goings-on in the Senators blogosphere: Everyone is working hard and catching a cold.
Regular readers will note that my posts have become erratic and tardy of late. This is both due to work requirements and illness. I hope that both will resolved soon. So pelase bear with me and I’ll get back into my groove and get some better quality posts happening.Let's hope this isn't some kind of Heroes-like virus that specifically targets Sens bloggers.
-- Sens Fan in Toronto
I'm having the week from heck so I apologize that posting will be light this week. Please bear with me as my work-load is rather overwhelming right now and I'm lucky enough to have that coupled with the fact I haven't been feeling too great recently. The rest of the blog-o-sphere should keep you company though so check out the sidebar for all your bloggy needs.
Let me also assure you that Peter and I have neither jobs, nor reasons to go outside and get viruses. We'll be with you forever.
Of course it was only a matter of time. Patrick Eaves has been playing the best hockey of his career, getting points and serious ice time, and then he separated his shoulder the Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Sabres. Apparently the timeline is 2-4 weeks. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, but hopefully Eaves is back soon and continues playing like he has been this season.
One opportunity that comes from this unfortunate circumstance is for Nick Foligno, who I understand is already on his way back to Ottawa from Binghamton. After two assists in three games for the B-Sens, Foligno got his feet wet in the AHL; maybe he'll play out of his mind to try and avoid more bus rides.
It's unknown whether or not Randy Robitaille will be back in the lineup against the Penguins on Thursday as he's still day-to-day with a hand injury. Hopefully it's not too serious.
EDIT: Correction: Apparently the Sens have called up Alexander Nikulin instead of Foligno. Holy shit. This is awesome, if also unexpected; I guess John Paddock wants to keep everyone on their toes. It also might be an attempt to give more offensive punch, rounding out the second line with a little extra offensive ability (if Nikulin plays that high). I'm excited to hear SputNik's next blog entry!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
While I wasn't able to watch the whole game, I heard Ottawa wasn't ready to play in the first period (the Sens were outshot 14-7 in the opening 20 minutes). Maybe it was the fact that they took so much extra time in Montreal that their heads hadn't arrived in Buffalo on time. I knew it was a bad idea to mess with travel plans and get into Buffalo late. The Sabres were up 3-0 before you could say Maxim Afinogenov, on two weak goals and one deplorable one. Not to suggest they were all Ray Emery's fault, though; he sure hasn't had much help from the rest of the team in any of his four games this year.
Come the second period, Daniel Alfredsson once again began an Ottawa Senators comeback (lending more credence to the Pretire #11 campaign), and Dany Heatley scored his second in as many games to bring Ottawa within one. But a few minutes later on a tic-tac-toe-goal play Drew Stafford restored the two goal lead. It was more the fault of Wade Redden (for committing poorly in the neutral zone), Anton Volchenkov (for allowing the pass from Tomas Vanek), and Shean Donovan (for not containing Stafford on the backcheck) than it was the fault of Emery.
That was all she wrote in terms of scoring, although Chris Kelly should have scored in the third. After stripping some Sabres defenceman of the puck, CK22 went in on Ryan Miller, deked him, and then hit the post despite a wide-open net to shoot at (see right). Hell, not even shoot, he could have just slid the puck slowly along the ice. I guess you're going pretty fast, and I'm sure no one is as disappointed as Kelly is, but you've got to bury those. In the end, though, it wouldn't have mattered.
As for all the Emery haters, don't blame him. I know that barely a week ago I wrote a post about how he should be traded, but that wasn't because he's a bad goaltender. It was because Rayzor is a competitive player, and is at his best when he's playing more than two games in two weeks. He didn't play well, and hasn't played well all season. For Emery to be at his best, he's got to play games and get involved. I also don't like what I perceive about his approach to conditioning and practice (although it's true that I don't know the whole story), and I think Martin Gerber is as good technically and better in terms of his personality, but the fact that Emery could be a number one goalie in this league remains.
Speaking of The Gerber, he'll start in Ottawa tomorrow against Pittsburgh. While Ottawa's certainly got to bounce back from a loss, the Penguins lost on Wednesday night, too, so look to them as a group looking to rebound with a solid effort against the league leaders.
Expect that every night, folks: every single team in the NHL will play Ottawa as hard as they can play, because every time you play the best team in the league, it's a statement game.
In case you haven't heard, Matt Carle of the San Jose Sharks has signed a four-year, $13.75M contract extension. Carle and Meszaros are comparable in many ways; in fact, Meszaros is a much better player on paper: more career games at a younger age, better size, and more offensive results and upside. So, if Carle is worth $3.5M a year, how much is Meszaros worth?
With so many free agents to sign for next year and so much money already devoted to recently-signed player, Ottawa's going to have to sign Meszaros to a pretty low contract. If it lasts until July, Andy will receive an offer sheet from another team (probably Edmonton, given Kevin Lowe's reputation and apparent fetish for young and/or offensive defencemen).
While I hate to see a promising player like Meszaros go, it might just be the cost that comes with the new NHL. With prospect Brian Lee playing well in Binghamton and the one-way contract that Larry Nycholat has signed for next season, it looks like Ottawa's still okay for defence. If there's a way to keep Meszy, though, I say go for it.
I watched the second period of the Leafs/Bruins game last night, and it looked like Toronto was doing pretty well. I actually thought that, if they kept playing like they were playing, they could make the playoffs. They were up 2-0, playing a 1-2-2 deep trap, and keeping Boston to the outside. Then it all went to hell, and the Leafs lost 4-2.
How hard it must be for Leafs fans... to have your team constantly struggling, and then to be beaten by a third-string goaltender whom you traded for your current second-string goaltender after beating the best team in the league.
Oh well. The Leafs suck. The only reason I might want them to win is so that they sneak into the eighth playoff spot so Ottawa can beat them and finally exorcise those daemons.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
After a slightly-less-than-usual delay for pre-game ceremonies honouring Larry Robinson, Ottawa and the Habs had another very exciting game for spectators to watch. If these two teams meet in the playoffs, it will be an incredible series.
Most Senators had good games, but special mention goes to Dany Heatley. His second effort to get Jason Spezza the puck on the Sens' second goal was what good players have to do to become great players. Heater also broke his eight-game scoreless streak, and probably could have scored three or four goals if he could hit the net. Three points in the game for both of those guys, a few more games like that and Heatley will be right up at the top of the point- and goal-scoring races.
It also looked like Spetzky is back in game form now, after taking the last two games to readjust to the pace. Good to see, and I'll bet Heatley and John Paddock are both pretty relieved.
Alfredsson got dropped to what is now line 1B, along with Antoine Vermette and Mike Fisher. That'll be a great line, Alfie and the Fish play well already, and once Vermette gets a feel for how they'll play, we could have a bona fide second scoring line. Unless Paddock goes back to the old formations, or throws Fisher on the top line with Spezza and Heatley.
Chris Neil had his best game of the year, scoring a goal and an assist. He's played pretty well in most of the last few games. If he keeps working that hard--and gets some time on the top line--he should have a chance of matching or breaking his career-high 33 points from 2005-06.
Finally, Patrick Eaves continued on his streak of great games and is making it harder and harder for Bryan Murray to consider trading him. Eaves seems to be the most likely roster player to be traded aside from one of the goalies, but he seems to be getting closer to the role the Sens had hoped he'd fill when he was drafted. And if that happens, there's no need to find another top-six player; we'll already have one.
And then there's Martin Gerber. Made key saves at key times, and if Ray Emery wants a shot at giving The Gerber a run for the number 1A spot, he's really going to have to kick some ass on Wednesday against Buffalo or Thursday against Pittsburgh, whichever of those he plays in. Most think that start will be against the Sabres on Wednesday, bringing with it the potential of a rematch against Andrew Peters. Given how pissed Rayzor seems to be after losing the starting job due to injury, maybe he'll boil over. I hope not, though, he's got enough to worry about with goaltending.
In other news, Alfredsson is second overall in voting for the 2007-08 All-Star Game. Which is great. Unfortunately, the write-in campaign for Martin Gerber isn't going so well, so go and vote! There is a link to the voting website in the lineup tracker on the left side of this page.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Martin Gerber didn't look great, especially on the aforementioned goal by Tlusty--it looked like he was just too lazy to go across the net and try to score. Look for The Gerber to bounce back Monday or Wednesday, or whenever he plays. Unless Ray Emery plays well on Monday, then also plays Wednesday... then The Gerber will get the chance on Thursday, likely.
Once again, Daniel Alfredsson had a good game, but not the best of the year. Not to suggest he played poorly, but the bar has been set so high that even a just-barely-dominant game is below average on the Alfie scale.
Some of the best Sens were Mike Fisher, who had a solid physical game and played well when he was with Heatley, and Patrick Eaves, generating chances and bothering Vesa Toskala in what was probably Ottawa's best scoring chance in the third period.
Meh, we'll get them next time. And we'll smoke Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Philly next week and forget all about this loss to the Leafs--until February, that is, when we next play against Toronto.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Now that the Senators have confirmed themselves as the greatest team of all time (of this season), I think it's time we start the boast a little.
I will now officially kick off the "Pretire #11 campaign" wherein our goal is to have Daniel Alfredsson's #11 retired before the man/god himself actually quits. Alfie is on pace for 67 goals this season, and he's leading the team in more than points. He's now the leader that many people have criticized him for not being in the past.
Do the Sens have to play the Leafs again?! Just give us the two points and we'll save the world a little bit of jet fuel. Let's just say Raycroft gets the loss.
...and let me state my official stance on All-Star voting. Vote for the Senators players - any and all of them. Vote at every opportunity until your eyes bleed.
Add more trash talk in the comments. The Sens are infallible right now, so go for broke!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Nick Foligno was demoted to Binghamton. The guy will get more experience on the farm and everyone will get to see if he is (or will be) a relatively good player. If he racks up 70 points in Bingo, it'll be a more accurate indication of his potential than 2 points in 9 NHL games.
From yesterday's Ottawa Sun, Dany Heatley averages 1.1 points per game with Jason Spezza in the lineup and 1.33 without. Extremely interesting fact: Heatley goes long stretches without scoring, and actually got his 50 goals from last season in only 36 games, in the other 46 games, he didn't score a goal at all.
This also means that Heater didn't score a goal on most nights last year. He simply made up for it by scoring 2 goals the following game.
With the Sens taking on the Sabres tonight, we'll get to see just how wrong things have gone in Buffalo since last season. Score prediction: 4-2 Sens - no empty net goals.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Why is everyone in Ottawa so short-sighted? If the Senators wanted to win in the regular season, they would re-sign Patrick Lalime!
It takes a certain type of goaltender to win in the playoffs. Qualities such as intensity, determination, a little bit of insanity, and a certain amount of cockiness—Ray Emery possesses all of these qualities, and you cannot teach them to an often-mediocre goaltender like Martin Gerber.
Let’s just keep in mind what happened last year. You are forgetting, and it makes me want to punch you in the mouth, Peter. Gerber dropped the ball! He’s no good! We were all afraid to mention the name of “Gerbatross” in the playoffs, and the team would be up the creek without a paddle without Emery. Let’s not forget that Gerber is only playing well because he knows there is a more talented goalie waiting on the bench to take his job whenever he starts to cool off – and it’s only a matter of time until he does.
If this deal goes through, the Sens are turning their back on the only goaltender to LEAD THE TEAM in the playoffs. And although I like what a talented player like Alexander Frolov could bring to the team, Emery is the best playoff goaltender the Sens have ever had.
If you want to win the President’s Trophy, then stick with Gerber. If the Sens want a Stanley Cup then they need Emery.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Ray Emery is not what the Senators need right now. I don't see the Senators' future goaltending situation being all Emery, all the time; he just doesn't strike me as a full-time stopper. I don't think Martin Gerber is a long-term solution, either, but they are about equal at this point, so why not deal the guy with the higher market value?
Even though we're basing this entire discussion on the musings of a writer whose predictions seldom if ever come true. It is worth discussing. If a package of Emery, Patrick Eaves, and a prospect (apparently Josh Hennessy being the most likely) in exchange for a new, cheaper backup and a top-six forward, awesome. I would actually be most concerned about Eaves, playing he best hockey of his career, than I would be about Emery.
Don't get me wrong, last year Emery was awesome in the playoffs. He was certainly one of the Senators' best players along the run. And he could be awesome again, but there are serious concerns with his ability to take criticism or accept demotion. And let's keep in mind that even Jim Carey won the Vezina Trophy once. Last year, Gerber was the perfect backup, accepting Emery's promotion for the best of the team. He spent the off-season working on his skills, preparing to come back at the top of his game and win back the number one spot—something he accomplished.
Emery, on the other hand, is rumoured to be just pissed off, and it's affecting his play. If it starts affecting the team, then it's not worth it. He's been reported leaving practice early and is refusing to speak with the media. If he wants to play, he's going to have to play better than he did against Atlanta or Washington. Although he played alright against the Caps for the start, he let it go at the end with a few weak goals. Plus, while I'm not privy to the entire story, and I'm not so ridiculous as to suggest players should never play sports aside from hockey, his most recent baseball-related injury might reflect a carelessness that would not benefit this team.
The rumours we're hearing are the three aforementioned Senators being sent to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jason LaBarbera and a forward, one of Dustin Brown, Alexander Frolov, Michael Handzus, or Patrick O'Sullivan. Frolov, because of his offensive abilities and his contract situation (this year and two more, averaging $3.5M each) is the most appealing to me, but also the least likely because of his value to the Kings and GM Bryan Murray's affinity for North American players over European ones. Frolov does, however, have a relationship with Sens d-man Anton Volchenkov and could make the introduction of prospects Ilya Zubov and Alexander Nikulin easier if and when those two join the big team. Brown is signed for six years, averaging $3.175M per year, which is a bit of a gamble. He's got 12 points in 16 games so far, though, so if it works, it would be great. That contract leads me to believe that LA has earmarked him as a significant part of the team's core for a while, so he wouldn't likely be moved. O'Sullivan only has six points this year, and is an RFA afterwards, so that wouldn't work long-term for the Sens. And Handzus, well… he's big, but he's old, not producing, and is making too much money. No deal.
If the deal were Emery, Eaves, and Hennessy for LaBarbera and either Brown, Frolov, or Mike Cammalleri (but don't count on Cammaleri), then I'd say take it. Even if it's for LaBarbera and O'Sullivan it might give the Sens the cap space needed to sign Peter Forsberg, if Foppa isn't calling it a career.
Check back in the next little while to see Ben's Counterpoint, where he'll try to explain why the Sens can't trade Emery.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The Sens got some heroic goalscoring from Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Neil in order to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in today's matinée game.
Martin Gerber looked relaxed and confident in his return to the net. He made several saves in the second period on shots that could have put the Sens away for good. However, the story of the game was in the Habs' net as Christobal Huet stood on his head in the second and third periods to nearly single-handedly win this game for MTL.
Some weird lines were whipped together for the Sens as Neil-Eaves-Schubert saw some action, as well as a weird mixture of the first two lines were present throughout the game.
Very smart (but kinda questionable) play by Alfredsson to draw a penalty shot mid-way through the third period. He practically threw his hands in the air before the Canadiens' defender touched him.
I now how a man with no emotions celebrates: he raises his arms in the air with no facial expression, as evidenced by John Paddock after two Sens goals in the third. That guy is so creepy... and tall - that just makes it creepier.
Tomorrow I plan to address the Ray Emery trade rumours that have been circulating the Sens blogs. My contention: BAD IDEA!!!!!
PS: I am aware that Huet is from France, not Quebec and probably would not swear like that.
Friday, November 9, 2007
The Capitals were coming off a losing streak that put them in the basement of the conference, whereas the Sens were flying high off an franchise-record eight consecutive win. It appears that the irony cards were all lined up for a 4-1 Senators loss to Washington.
First of all,one has to question the decision to start Ray Emery in this game rather than splitting the home and home series against Boston between Emery and Martin Gerber, and then having Gerber start this one.
Is John Paddock trying to make Emery look bad? Watching TSN, it was stated that Emery was in a pissy mood in practice, and Paddock seemed fine with it. I wouldn't be in a good mood if some guy stole my job, but I suppose Emery's gotta live with it just the way Gerber did last year. The irony is fantastic.
Before the flood gates opened Emery looked strong in net, making a few key saves before the Caps' first goal. I expect him to win his next game as long as the Sens D doesn't throw him to the Lions.
On the first goal of the game my "impeach Redden" folder gained a little more evidence as Vicktor Kozlov beat Wade Redden to the puck, then made his way toward the Sens' net largely unaccosted. What do the Sens pay you for?!
Did anyone check out the Sens #1 power-play unit? They has Heatley and Alfredsson on the points! We don't need defence on the PP!
Volchenkov gets hit by a puck; this time it hurt
After being blasted by about 1000 shots from opposition shooters over the past 3 years, one puck actually found the spot (on his right thigh) where Anton Volchenkov was not dipped in the river Styx. Apparantly, the man, who I increasingly believe to be a robot, will be okay and attended practice the day after.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The 67 Habs lost only 8 games all year (and tied 12), and this leads many people to believe that this year's 13-1 Sens could match or beat that record if they keep up their current pace.
First of all, that's probably not going to happen. Secondly, looking at past Senators rosters, I think in terms of pure talent the 2005-06 Senators are as good as this team. Just think of it. It's the current Sens plus monstrous defenceman Zdeno Chara and the extremely talented Martin Havlat. Plus, they were supposed to have Dominik Hasek in net all season. If that team couldn't do it, I don't think there's a team that can.
This isn't counting injuries, but 13 games into this season, I don't think the media is accounting for them this year either.
Prove me wrong 07-08 Sens, prove me wrong.
Peter kicked some smack-talking ass over at the Jasper's Rink blog, letting them know why the Sens are going to trounce the Caps tonight.
"At their current pace, it would take the Washington Capitals another 24 games (so 39 total) to get as many wins as Ottawa has in our first 14 games. Our forwards have more goals, assists, and points. Our defencemen have more blocked shots and better plus/minus ratings. Our goaltender has more wins and a better save percentage and goal-against average. Sorry, Caps fans."Case and point.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Let me start off by saying the reffing was abysmal. Just atrocious. Abominable. I mean... Mike Fisher got three penalties? Bogus. It was so difficult to watch Toronto commit infraction after infraction, and then Ottawa get called for borderline penalties.
But good teams find a way to battle through adversity, and the Sens not only killed 88 per cent of penalties, but also scored a short-handed goal off an incredbiel pass from Dean McAmmond to Daniel Alfredsson. Ottawa went 1-for-4 on the powerplay when Andrej Meszaros, who had a pretty good game, scored with a shot from the point.
First Star: Martin Gerber. Best player on the ice, bar none. His main criticism has been rebound control, but The Gerber had no problems with rebounds tonight. I was impressed many times, especially on a Leafs run in the second period, when The Gerber would simply absorb shots and hold onto them. The Gerber was huge in the second period, and ended up stopping 30 of 31 shots over the game.
Second Star: Patrick Eaves. Patty had what was probably his best game of the year, scoring a goal and an assist and setting up a bunch of other plays. Very effective for just over eight minutes of ice time, which was less than any other Senator.
Third Star: Daniel Alfredsson. Played well in all situations, killed some serious penalty time, and just worked. Kudos to the Sens fans in attendance, who not only drowned out the Leafs fans' boos of Alfie but also booed Mats Sundin whenever he touched the puck.
Honourable mentions go to Chris Phillips for shutting down the Leafs' big line, Dean McAmmond for being Dean McAmmond, Luke Richardson for his reliability in constantly increasing ice time (he played 12:28 tonight), Andrej Meszaros in his best game of the year, Antoine Vermette (12/17 in faceoffs), Anton Volchenkov (another six blocked shots)... I think this would go on for too long so I'll just say most of the team played great.
Not so great tonight was Joe Corvo. He played over 14 minutes which might have been too much for him, but he committed a few mistakes (two giveaways in the game, more than any other Senator). On a couple occasions tried to deke out a Leaf going into the corner, but just plum forgot the puck and the Leafs got it. He'll bounce back next game, though.
So the Sens are 13-1, setting the record for best start through 14 games (what a vague statistic), and are the best tem in the league so far. Roy Mlakar is on The Jim Rome Show tomorrow, and I'm pretty excited to hear it. And the Sens play Washington on Thursday, this game-every-other-day is almost too much after the one-game-a-week start to the season. Almost.
The All-Star game could mark firsts for both Chris Phillips and, hilariously enough, Ray Emery. We've got such a good team that our backup goaltender is nominated for the All-Star Game.
No-brainers of the ballot are Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatley. The biggest surprise is Wade Redden who, despite Ben's hatred of Reds, might make another appearance.
So, if everything goes right, the Sens could have the entire All-Star Team starting lineup for the Eastern Conference, with three forwards, two defencemen, and a goaltender. That would be so awesome... I don't know when we can start voting, but I know who I'm going to vote for when the time comes.
No word yet on how many B-Sens will be at the AHL All-Star Game in Binghamton, but I would't be surprised if Denis Hamel (10GP, 6G, 4A) or Danny Bois (10GP, 3G, 6A) were on Team Canada or if Brian Lee (10GP, 1G, 8A), Alexander Nikulin (8GP, 1G, 6A), or Ilya Zubov (10GP, 2G, 6A) were on PlanetUSA.
A lot of recently-signed players left money to stay with a winner Anton Volchenkov (signing for $2.5M a year, could have gotten $3.5-4M), Chris Phillips (signed $3.5M, potential $5-5.5M), Jason Spezza ($7M, $10M), and Dany Heatley ($7.5M, $10M). That's a combined (estimated) $7-9M in savings.
And let's not forget Daniel Alfredsson, who signed a five-year deal in March 0f 2004 with money left on the table, offering the team a further three one-year options to potentially extend the contract until 2011-12 for only $3.8M a year (which they'd be stupid not to excercise), then saw that amount rolled back after the lockout, and continues to play his heart out every game.
Sure, Redden could pull a Paul Kariya and sign with the St. Louis Blues for $7M a year, or play with Ed Jovanovski in Phoenix for the same amount, but you've got to wonder if he's about ready to win something.
The writing is on the wall that Redden wants to stay. Obviously there's what he said, but actions are louder than words; when he refused to waive his no-trade clause this past season it was not only because he didn't want to play for the lowly Oilers, but he also wanted to stay in Ottawa. If he really wants to stay, though, he'll have to take a significant pay cut. We're talking about $3M below his current contract, which is already lower than he could have signed for. As a number three defenceman on the depth chart, $6.5M is way too much. While he's a valuable part of the defence corps, and plays a lot of all-purpose minutes, he'll probably need to sign a Phillips-esque contract around $3.5-4M per year.
Do that, Redden, and I'll never complain about your play again. Because you'll have proven that it's not all about money for some pro athletes.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
A few theories: Maybe coach John Paddock is trying to give Gerber the opportunity to keep the starting job. Although he didn't play tremendously well against the Bruins on Saturday, he did make some saves to keep the Sens close when it was 2-1 for Boston.
Also, it's no secret that GM Bryan Murray is unhappy with Ray Emery's off-ice shenanigans. I don't know how I feel, but both Murray and Paddock are old-fashioned guys looking for players to play well and be low-key off the ice (and on it, as demonstrated by Paddock getting pissed at Chris Neil for his WWE style antics against Atlanta). It could be that the front-offiec folks are trying to find out if Gerber is really able to handle the number one job so that Emery becomes the expendable of our 'tenders.
What do you think? Whatever it is, Gerber has the number one job, and it's his to lose.
The Bruins' GM, Peter Chiarelli, was a associate of John Muckler, followed in Muck's footsteps by building the 2000-01 Senators... in Boston... in 2005-06.
Zdeno Chara, Peter Schaefer, and Brendan Bochenski? I suppose it's a start for the Bruins, who have been struggling to remain respectable since Joe Thornton left. They put up a good fight on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place, but the Senators managed to pull out a win thanks to some grind from Mike Fisher and some style from Dany Heatley.
What a shot from Heatley, and what a game from Fisher. Both players doing exactly what those expensive, long-term contracts are telling them to do.
Why are the Sens fans booing Chara? The man left through free agency. Of course, he left for more money, but players do that all the time. There's no hard feelings from me towards the Z-Tree - that guy was awesome in Ottawa, and I wish the Sens kept him. Are the fans booing because the Sens chose to keep Redden instead?
The rematch goes tonight. Watch this one to see if the close game on Saturday was the result of Tim Thomas standing on his head, or if the Sens just couldn't finish their plays.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Seven flippin' years people.
Seven more years of dekeing out Sheldon Souray; five more years of "Spezza finds Heatley with a backdoor pass - Heatley scores!"; seven more years of no-look drop passes to no one.
The Sens have $16-million tied up in Heatley and Spezza until 2011-12. The Sens also have team options for Alfredsson for $3.8-million until the same year. (source)
I'm psyched. The Sens are looking like a very talented team for a very long time.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
That's right kids, the Sens decided to let their guard down against Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa - not a good idea. A solid game by Ray Emery, his second start of the season, was almost spoiled by a ridiculously bad third period. I can't say that Emery was great, since he barely made one good save in the game.
Where was Dany Heatley? Although Daniel Alfredsson and Randy Robitaille had outstanding games, Heater was no where to be seen. Strange, as he collected two points in the game.
GM Bryan Murray is looking like a genius right now. Signing an obscure player from Russia who can fill in amicably on the first line.
Robitaille? More like what-a-Steal-itaille.
This game is probably just the result of the Sens missing some of that killer instinct, since they've only played 2 games in 13 games. But they've better get it back soon. Tonight's game aganist Atlanta is their first of 3 in 4 games.
I expect (dare I say it?!) #1 goalie Martin Gerber to start the next few games.