Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hope springs eternal... for now

Ah yes, Spring is upon us in the nation's capital. The sun is shining, the snow is melting, and young ladies will begin to show skin again soon. Casting off our winter slumbers, the city will soon embrace its full potential in a beautiful sun-shower.

Our hockey team too, is embracing new beginnings and the Ottawa media is now taking note. Cory Clouston is the Senators savior for this season, and has become a symbol of the team's potential (which is often questioned) being unleashed. It's difficult to ignore the stat: A team that was well under .500 with Craig Hartsburg is not 11-6-3 under Clouston's guidance.

The front page of the sports section in the Ottawa Citizen does a great job of illustrating (literally and figuratively) the difference that Clouston has made.
Under Hartsburg, Phillips owned one of the NHL's worst plus/minus marks, a chilling minus-20 in 48 games. Since Clouston arrived, however, Phillips is a plus- nine in 20 games. There are similar spikes in the numbers for Nick Foligno (minus-19, Hartsburg; plus-nine Clouston), Mike Fisher (minus-seven Hartsburg; plus-nine, Clouston) and Anton Volchenkov (minus-13, Hartsburg; plus-seven Clouston)
In the darker days of this season, I've often pointed to Phillips +/- as an indicator of not only his poor play, but as a barometer of the team as a whole. With the team's top defender on the right side of zero in recent games, the Sens are surely headed in the right direction.

Though reporters are asking the right questions to players and GM Bryan Murray about the future of Clouston and the Senators' head coaching position for next season, there really is no doubt about what must be done: Give Clouston a deal. Now. He's inspired the team (albeit in the short-term -- let us not forget the success the Sens had for 20 games under Paddock) and seemed to have made winners out of losers.

Brian Elliot has turned into yet another late-season success story for Ottawa. It will be interesting to see how the goalie situation next year will pan out. Will Elliot stay in the big leagues or be shipped back to Bingo to allow the tandem of Auld and Leclaire to hold down the fort?

Hope springs eternal in Ottawa. I wish the season started a couple

News and notes:

I am accepting articles from possible new contributors to the blog until Saturday. So if you want in, please send me an article. So far, everyone who has sent in an article has been excellent.

We had some great success with last week's live blog on Thursday evening, so join us again this Thursday to shoot the shit and discuss the Senators while they take on the Montreal Canadiens.
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