Thursday, November 30, 2006
They also haven't lost against Atlanta since October 2003.
Put those two things together, and one would think the planets have aligned for the Leafs to end a bad run of games.
Yet, in the star this morning there is concern from Maurice that the team is losing games despite out-shooting and outplaying their opponents. 46 shots on Tuesday resulted in one goal which deflected off Antropov's skate. Not exactly potent touch around the net.
Sundin has been back for a week. It's time he started playing like their best player again, or this could turn ugly in a hurry.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
With Ray Emery still nursing a sore wrist, it would seem to be a good time to give Gerber another shot Thursday night when the Florida Panthers are at Scotiabank Place. That would give Emery a chance to have five days off if he needs them.Murray thinks this:
It would also be a good boost for Gerber’s confidence if he could post back-to-back wins.
"I just have to make decisions based on winning hockey games," explained Murray.
"I have to put in the players in that feel they can do that on a consistent basis right now."
I think the majority of Sens fans would agree with Murray.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
As a welcome home gift for The Muppet here is the clip of Darcy Tucker single handedly taking on the Bruins. Thanks to Mirtle for finding it. It has created quite a bit of discussion with the virulent anti-Leafs fans showing that glaucoma can strike anyone any time and poor put-upon Leaf fans having to try to stem the tide of blinkered hate.
This much is clear to anyone with a pair of functioning eyes: Tucker is chasing the puck until the faceoff dot where he decides he can't make it and glides into a huge hit with Chara the force of which lifts him off his feet (he is about 3 feet and 200 lbs lighter than the Sens' Old Boy). As he is skating at centre ice he sees Marc Savard charging at him and he hits him in the chest knocking him to the ice. Then Paul Mara takes offence that Tucker didn't allow Savard to cheap shot him from behind and flies at Tucker. Darcy lands the first hit, takes a few bombs, gives back a couple and then wrestles Mara to the ice.
Here is the anti-leafs version: Tucker takes 15 strides all the way until he gets to Chara where he proceeds to launch himself in the air for the final three feet of this vicious assault. Darcy then hunts down Savard, who was just checking out the crowd, before cross-checking him in the throat. Tucker then goes after non-fighter Paul Mara and tries to break his hand with the back of his head. What a goon!
I am guessing that Sens fans will see a lot more of the latter version.
Tonight, the two teams meet for the fourth time in the past month and this could be the kind of heated game that the league wanted to create when they made their division-heavy schedule. Darcy Tucker has already said that he welcomes a rematch with Mara and Raycroft laughed off suggestions by Marc Savard that the Bruins had his number:
Savard shoots his mouth off all the time, it's nothing new.
The Leafs will have had a couple of practices to work Mats back into the lineup so I expect a much more cohesive performance tonight.
Monday, November 27, 2006
First off, Senator fans, you would love Jamaica. Excellent beaches, delicious food, and zero Leaf games on Saturday night. The next time you complain about the CBC for their Toronto-skewed programming, remember that there are places where the hockey coverage is so anorexic you would kill for a steady diet of Darcy Tucker powerplay goals. I know this, because by the 5th day I would have watched a Senators practice if it was televised. No wonder Hockey doesn't grow outside of Canada.
An excellent vacation aside, it was a tough week for this particular Leaf fan. Partly because I couldn't watch a game, partly because the Buds went 2-3, but more so because the ESPN2 ticker in the sports bar kept regularly saying that Ottawa had won? I began to wonder if their satellite system was capturing last years feeds? I mean, talk about ruining a perfectly good tan.
Thankfully, news of the Tampa Bay Lightening's heroics greeted me at the airport like a smiling tour guide holding a sign with my name on it. God Bless you Martin St. Louis.
So, in catching up on all the news I have only one stone left unturned:
Where the hell can I see some video of that Tucker hit on Chara?
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Ottawa Senators: Starting to find their way...
"from the depths of the Eastern Conference" must have been omitted. The review also contains a bombshell:
"The surprise for me right now is Tucker and the amount of goals he has for Toronto," Ruff said. "He's been a pleasant surprise. I would not have picked that."
Considering he was calling for his head at the end of last year that's pretty big of Lindy. First Peca, now Ruff, how long until Jochen Hecht says that Tucker is his inspiration?
In other news, the Leafs crushed the Brashear-less Capitals 7-1. Wellwood continued his three game scoring streak, Bryan McCabe stretched his point-scoring streak to 8 games, and Lindy's new best friend scored his team-leading 16th. How big of a blowout was it? Hal Gill scored a goal and picked up an assist. Tomorrow the Captain returns against the Bruins and I will be in attendance.
Friday, November 24, 2006
How meaningful are these? It's interesting to consider how Crosby is obviously a major outlier, but at some point his PPM is going to drop precipitously as his salary rises. It seems reasonable that Tucker and Neil have comparable (and relatively high) PPM's, but quite absurd when McAmmond and O'Neill look to be a better bargain than Rod Brind'Amour (plus there's that whole Stanley Cup winning captain thing). The rub is that while a Peca, Sundin or Alfie appear to be on par with a McGrattan, they each take up the same percentage of their respective team's roster as he does.
I haven't shown defensemen, as stay-at-home types are bound to get a bad rap, but the goalie stats (in terms of standing points earned) are instructive:
Well, I'm not sure if I would have laughed your ass out of the room or placed a pretty hefty bet against your assessment.
UPDATE: Still climbing out of the hole. Potentially a big loss on the blueline - just as he gets rolling along, the A-Train sustains a lower body injury.
Japers' Rink has a good roundup of the pre-game. I did not know that the Caps had dropped 4 in a row. They are primed to deliver a great performance and of course it will come at the expense of the buds.
For those not blessed with LeafsTV the game will probably be available on the amazing TVU Player. I use it to follow Liverpool's games when they are not broadcast and it is a great program. They usually broadcast the game that gets the most votes in the forum and thanks to the legions of Leaf fans it is usually that night's Leafs broadcast.
Toronto Maple Leafs player Ian White is facing charges of driving while disqualified, CTV News has learned.
The promising young defenceman was stopped by police on Saturday and charged.
It is the second time White has been in trouble with the law in recent times.
He lost his driver's licence after he was convicted in September of impaired driving.
The guy makes over $500,000 a year. He could afford his own driver let alone pay for cabs for the year he's off the road.
What makes this movie even more unique is that the NHL and the Maple Leafs — part of a sport where no player has ever come out of the closet — have given the filmmakers their blessing to use their logos and uniforms. The Leafs have even agreed to let them do some filming with them at the end of a practice next month.I found this part of the article in bad taste however as I was sure it was just an unfounded rumour:
The closest an active Leaf player has come to declaring their homosexuality was when it was discovered that Wendel Clark and Toller Cranston rented an apartment together.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
He's smart, skilful, small and afraid, and that combination kind of leaves you wanting when you come into a building like this (The Wachovia Center in Philadelphia).
I would have thought that those traits would have made him a perfect fit for Ottawa. Unfortunately, Bryan Murray, that brilliant strategist, could not find a place for Kaigorodov to contribute:
We saw him play, and I had to make a judgment whether we keep Dean McAmmond, Kaigorodov or Denis Hamel or Brian McGrattan. When (Muckler) asked me, I said, 'I don't see where he's going to contribute to this team right now.
I guess there was no way he could give up Hamel's 4 pts (3-1), McGrattan's 1pt(0-1), or McAmmond's 7pts (3-4) to fit the solution to their longstanding problem area. Good managing.
We are now getting heckled by Leaf fans! Leaf fans!?!
The good news is if the Senators keep this pace up you won't have to worry about yet another playoff early exit disappointment.
On the other hand, there are those that think otherwise. A good comment by Gee:
Everybody relax. Easier said than done (for me too!) but, firing Paddock before the next game is very reactionary.
This is essentially the same team as last year, minus Comrie and Saprykin, but with 5 more Stanley Cup rings in the room.
They were going to have a bad month. It was probably going to be February. I've been saying this since October. They rolled strong out of the gates partly because their summer was short and they never really lost their old conditioning. Who knew it was going to be this bad? Ok, yeah nobody.
Coming in first in the standings. doesn't matter. It doesn't. Really. Honest. It's WAY better to take that lead and use it to fix whatever ails you.
What ails them? The goaltending situation. It's frustrating as hell to watch. But it's not the only issue, and it's not as bad as it feels after two blowout losses.
We have lots of time for either of these two goaltenders to get hot by end-of-season. Both have been in the SC final before. Both are in good health. This is a
If they can string together a few wins despite the not great goaltending, the team is going to get stronger. The goaltending is gonna get better too, and finally, the d-men will be able to work within one system (not, for Ray I do this and for Gerbs I do that...)
About that: Saturday's game was important because it showed an ability to beat a hot, loaded team in the East, to come back, and to find a way to win (thank you Alfie). These two losses are alarming, but making a coaching change based on those two losses it probably a little hasty. I know it's not JUST based on that, but c'mon. This is a team in second in the east.
The role guys, the veteran SC/leadership guys in the room, have not had a time to become strong enough in the locker room yet. This will change by mid-March or so. This team is going to be a lot cooler and a lot more confident come playoffs.
The Sens need 23 more wins this season to win the Stanley Cup. Only 7 of those need to be in the next 5 weeks (18 games). Extra wins? They don't count.
So there you have it. Fire him or don't. Just win baby.
The Leafs dropped a heartbreaker last night against the Flying Sabres. The game seemed to turn early in the second when the Sabres scored while on a powerplay following a perfectly executed double gainer by Chris Drury followed by a Brian Campbell tally. However, the Leafs fought back to tie the game on a great Mike Ryan tally (nope, he's not a Leaf) and Tucker's 15th. Unfortunately, a miscommunication between Raycroft and Kaberle led to Briere's winner and the Sabres added two empty netters to seal a 7-4 win.
The score is not indicative of the game as the Leafs controlled much of the second half (I missed most of the first half) and showed once again that they can play with the best team in the league. Friday night the Leafs travel to Washington before they host Boston on Saturday. I'll be at the latter game and hopefully I can get some better pictures.
In great news, Mats will be returning Saturday (fingers crossed) and JFJ got his option picked up! (Note: only one is exciting and keep Senior in your prayers)
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tonight's game will probably feature a fairly evenly split crowd hoping to see the Leafs continue the Sabres woes against Ontario-based teams. The Leafs' goalie with a heart of gold Andrew Raycroft will be looking to reprise his game-saving role from the last Leafs-Sabres meeting, one of his best performances of the year. Paul Maurice will be banking that the players' fear from Monday night will be incentive enough to step their game up the level necessary to compete with the Sabres. The Soviet Bloc and Wellwood will continue to be counted on to provide the offence until Mats returns on Friday or Saturday.
The last time these two teams met the talk (Edited to clarify) among my friends was all about how badly the Leafs would be beaten. The talk again is that if the Leafs do not perform significantly better than in the last three games that they could go the way of the Lightning. Hopefully, the negative talk spurs the team into again producing a top-notch effort in the Queen City.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
It's great to see the A-Train back on track.
Note: Volchenkov is one of 4 Sens D-men who are free agents at the end of the year. (He and Schubert are RFA while Phillips and Preissing are UFA.)
Before sens fans start crowing about their revival, they have quite a lot of ground to make up:
Monday, November 20, 2006
The Leafs welcomed Andrew Raycroft and Aleksander Suglobov back to the fold. After a terrible fight by Wade 'Encino Man' Belak against Cam 'I jump when I hit' Janssen, Sugar gets a chance to try to re-ignite a stagnant Leafs offence. The Soviet Bloc and Wellwood will be looking to turn their superiority (10 of 34 shots against New Jersey) into goals while the defence will be trying to maintain their excellent streak of play that has seen them concede only four goals in the past three games.
One of last year's games ended 9-6 for the Leafs. Anything approaching that sort of offence would be welcome for the Leafs as the calls of 'where are the goals going to come from?' have awoken after a period of slumber.
Why it's the Air Canada Centre....
PPP was there and snagged a couple of those empty Golds. I realize that most of these seats actually had people in them at some point during the game but, like the true fans that they are, they must have been studying game film in the Platinum Club:
Before, during, or after a game, guests can indulge in the many services the club has to offer, as the restaurant holds their table for the entire night. As a result, if fans want to have a leisurely dinner before the game, they can. Or, if they just want to enjoy a glass of wine and appetizer, return for their main course after the first period, and come back later for dessert and a port or liqueur, the staff at the Platinum Club will have everything taken care of.And check out the stats - Ottawa is 2nd in the league with a 103.5% attendance capacity. The Leafs are way down there at number 3 with 103.2%
Make sure you look at it today as I think the Ottawa number will be dropping after tonight's game.
The Sens play the Wild tonight who are on a bit of a slump after winning only 2 of their past 7. Afterwards, the team plays 10 games where only Carolina is more than 2 games over 0.500. A great chance to put up some Ws and get back in the top 8 in the East. We are only 5 pts behind Washington who sits 8th.
Or, another way of looking at it....
How many stretches like this are there? If they don't make up the ground they've lost then we're screwed!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
The team will also be buoyed by the news that captain Mats Sundin will be making his return during the back-to-back games against the Bruins the 25th and 28th of November (hopefully the 25ht because I will be at that game).
Andrew Raycroft is targeting Monday's game against the Islanders for his return but in his stead Aubin has been stellar.
The Leafs will be looking to play the same type of game that they did in the first two periods against the Devils last time out. A hard, successful forecheck and plenty of traffic led the team to a 6-3 lead. As always, Patrick Elias and Brian Gionta will be the danger men for the team from Jersey. Chris McMurtry notes that Jamie Langenbrunner-Zach Parise-Travis Zajac formed a dangerous trio in the Devils triumph over the sens.
Coming off a middling performance against the Bruins Maurice will be looking for a much better showing from Kubina and the non-top line forwards. The Leafs had the Devils' number and hopefully tonight they can recapture it.
Has there been a bigger regular season home game for the Sens in the past few years?
Melnyk spoke after the win in Buffalo about standing behind the management. How did the Sens respond? By putting 13 shot on Brodeur in the first two periods and getting behind 3-0.
Almost like they sent a message back, no?
If they haven't stopped playing for Murray and Muckler then you should expect to see one hell of a motivated team tonight. But shouldn't we have seen that last night?
I expect we'll see less than that. I think this team wants Murray fired.
UPDATE: Okay - maybe I'm wrong. 50 shots on the Sabres tonight. A big win to be sure.
Friday, November 17, 2006
1992: Ott 2 - Tor 8
1993: Ott 1 - Tor 12
1994: Ott 3 - Tor 16
1995: Ott 1 - Tor 15
1996: Ott 1 - Tor 36
1997: Ott 12- Tor 57
That is FIVE years with a top three pick, and all they had to do to get that talent was be a terrible hockey team. So are the Sens the incredibly smart drafting team that Sens fans are claiming all over this forum, or does the fact they couldn't translate this string of good luck into playoff success actually prove otherwise?
*Of note: In 1999, Ottawa DID take Havlat in the 26th position. The best player in the first round by far and a stellar choice. The Leafs chose Luca Cereda in the 24th position that same year. He never made it to the NHL because of a heart condition.
After last Friday's win against the Pens we thought the Sens had turned a corner but 2 losses quickly changed that. A win against Jersey tonight and there will be a good mood in the rink on Saturday night. A loss and the fans might be a little testy again. Such is life.
As Melnyk says:
What you’re seeing now is passion. The opposite, I would get very scared. If nobody cared, if nobody was screaming, if people weren’t calling into radio shows, if they weren’t sending e-mails, then I’d be worried.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
On the bright side, J-S Aubin stole a point for the good guys with his amazing display. The top line of Antropov-Wellwood-Ponikarovsky gave the Bruins fits but they were not able to translate some good possession into goals. Pavel Kubina played pretty well considering his trans-Atlantic voyage to welcome Tereza into the world (read: not very well).
It is another point for the Leafs and will help them shake the rust off in anticipation of a busy stretch that sees 5 more games in the next 9 days starting with the Devils at home. The Devils will be coming off a hard game with the sens the night before, where they will be looking to avenge their 8-1 slaughter, and based on the performance tonight the Leafs will be coming off a hard practice.
Keys to the Game
- Goaltending: Last time out the Leafs got it and the Bruins, hilariously, did not. The Leafs managed to get outshot 17-10 in the first period but left with a 3-0 lead. Tim Thomas will probably get the start tonight and will try to improve on the team's horrendous 3.8GA/game.
- Shooting: The Leafs would do well to pepper the net with shots. Considering that the Bruins are 28th in shots against at 33/game and Toronto is 1st in shots for at 35.1/game I expect it to resemble a shooting gallery.
- Special Teams: It will be a battle of the nines as the ninth-ranked powerplay (Boston) will face the ninth-ranked penalty kill (Toronto). The Bruins won this battle last time going 2 for 5 but it was not enough. Clearly they will want to keep the PP off the ice (Discipline boys!) but they also have to ensure that Bostons speedsters like Patrice Bergeron and Phil Kessel are not able to isolate Hal Gill. He is great in the stationary penalty kill but I think the word 'lumbering' was invented to describe his skating. Kind of like 'shaky' was invented to describe Ottawa's goaltending.
- Stepper-uppers: The Soviet Bloc will have to continue their strong play. Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky combined for 3 goals, 3 assists, and were +8 last Thursday. Both players used their size to torment the Bruins defence and Poni used his speed to create scoring chances. If both players continue their recent strong play then the Bruins will be hard pressed to find an answer as despite being the size of a sequoia Chara can only cover one player at a time.
Overall, if the Leafs can play their puck pressure game they should be in good shape. The Bruins defence is suspect past Ottawa Old Boy Zdeno Chara and the Bruins offence is top-line heavy. Boston is probably tired from chasing AO around the ice last night. If Tim Thomas is more Gerber than Raycroft then the Leafs should prevail.
After listening to some people it sounded like Melnyk sent a money man to beat on Mlakar, Muckler, and Murray.
Well, from reading his bio, I think Plenner has a little more sports knowledge than you might have thought:
Today he is a Director, Secretary and an Alternate NHL Governor for the Ottawa Senators, and a Director and Secretary of Scotiabank Place. He is on the Board of Directors of St. Michael's Majors and is a Governor of the Ontario Hockey League representing St. Michael's Majors. He is also an authorized player representative for the Professional Lacrosse Players Association.
He was also the primary lawyer involved in negotiating the terms of the Toronto Raptors' Basketball Team expansion agreement with the NBA and was the Founding Secretary of the Raptors. Some of his other sports-related clients include Pat Quinn of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Glen Grunwald, formerly of the Toronto Raptors.
In short, a sunk cost is an expenditure made in the past that cannot be modified. Neither now nor in the future. A sunk cost is a cost that cannot be recovered. The English language has a nice expression to describe it in plain words: "There is no use crying over spilled milk". The milk won't flow back into the saucer pan. Many people nevertheless behave as if there was a hope that the milk would go back where it was.
The Sunk Cost Fallacy is an informal logical fallacy in which it is argued that the amount of time, effort, or money already invested in a project justifies the investment of yet more time, effort and money in order to complete the project.
This is a fallacy because the actual economic calculation which needs to be made is whether the project would be worth completing at the cost of the investment which still remains to be made.
Following the dictates of the sunk cost fallacy is sometimes referred to by the curious phrase "throwing good money after bad".
Martin Gerber's $3.7 M contract is an expenditure that cannot be modified. Neither now nor in the future. It is strange to hear mild justifications for keeping him as the starter simply on account of the money already invested by the organization. That money will be sunk whether he plays lights out for 70 games or pops in and out of the lineup in a backup role (unless you seriously entertain the notion for a trade of essentially equal value at this point in the season).
Ray Emery has earned the right to be the number one tender. Gerber will be a quite sufficient backup. Forget the contractual albatross and go with the winner. Does it need to be anymore complicated than that?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Muckler? Murray? Alfie? Spartacat?
I think Schaefer's twitchy reaction to the third goal sort of summed up the team's attitude after the horn went. Did the bullet really come that close to my head?
Room for improvement remains of course - although the PP got a couple of goals, there remains those disconcerting moments when a random glance at the clock is needed to confirm - holy shit - they've still got the man advantage! A need to respond to the Sabre's explosive speed seemed evident as well, with the exception of Fisher, Volchenkov and a few others at times - didn't they look like they just slept off a nasty jag on the couch? The overall game pace was fast, but everyone looks slow compared to Buffalo. Meszaros appeared to be as paralyzed by the blitz as he did last May.
Time to get a little shut eye and try not to let the hawkish gaze of Mean Gene Melnyk's right hand man intrude on your dreams.
This move is in stark contrast to the NFL who kicked down YouTube's doors, figuratively, to get footage removed. Added to the recent deal with Google this shows that the NHL is serious about becoming more accessible to fans.
No word yet on when highlight compilations of the sens-Leafs playoff series would be available.
I don't think so.
Bryan Murray's shortcomings in the post season are well known. In addition, before last year he hadn't coached a team into the playoffs for almost 15 years.
The time for patience is over.
Who should go behind the bench? You've got John Paddock there as an assistant. There are a few Sutters still around. Iron Mike might even be an option. Hitchcock?
It’s a funny time in Leaf Nation, the first stretch where we don’t play 87 times in a week. Talk about anti-climatic. Scanning the news, it’s not surprising to find no real news on the Leafs. Kubina had a baby… Sundin lost his last few hair follicles… Darcy Tucker was spotted buying his own Kewl gear at Play It Again Sports… times are a little thin.
One bit of news: Raycroft will be out for a few more games. This shouldn’t be a worry. Aubin has collected 25 of his last available 30 points. Besides, you get the feeling the Leafs could win with Antropov in net. Maybe even Gerber.
In that spirit, let's take a look at the all-star ballots that were released today. Mirtle laments the inclusion of so many unworthy all-stars:
If you're looking for interesting and/or quirky names available for selection, there are a few. In the East, you get your pick of the injured (Henrik Tallinder, Wade Redden, Maxim Afinogenov, Mats Sundin), underperforming (Henrik Lundqvist, Alexei Zhitnik, Patrik Elias, Daniel Alfredsson, Peter Forsberg, Miroslav Satan), unknown (Brian Campbell, Alexei Zhitnik) or just plain washed up (Alexei Zhitnik). In the West, how about two (!) Coyotes, two Blues, two Blue Jackets and five Canucks?
The credibility of the all-star game is saved by the omission of one Martin Gerber. First Colbert and now Forlund, the Carolinas have produced some great satirists.
Note: Ninja pointed out that The Mad Hockey Blogger is creating a new statistic called HIQ. Check out the results for the Leafs. Hopefully, soon we'll have more concrete evidence that the sens just are not as good as the Leafs.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
"The guy gave up five goals and he gave us a chance to win the hockey game. That's the way I felt about it," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "That was as strong a game as he's played for us. He made huge stops in a couple of cases."Yup - that stop he made on Plekanec's 84 ft wrister to stop the Habs from getting the backbreaking 6th goal was crucial. The team just couldn't follow his lead.
My new idea - have Murray coach Gerber in Binghamton where he can praise his 5 goals against performances. Give John Paddock the reigns - the guy at least won a couple of AHL championships. Melnyk can suck up Gerber's salary and Muckler can have the cap room to make a move.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Just before game time. A ton of Habs fans here - great atmosphere.
I'm 4 rows from the Sens blueline on the penalty box side. Someone up there likes me.
First period over: A lot of tension here. After Mtl scored the Gerber chants were started by the Hab fans - I think some Ottawa fans joined in.
Game over: The Sens come alive with a PP goal and then Gerber let's in a classic Lalimesque goal to kill the Sens. He was on his knees more than a kneeing kneer.
Buffalo, Jersey, and Buffalo up next. 6-10-1 now. How much pain can Melnyk endure?
If the Ottawa Senators’ slow start continues and they ultimately decide to make a change in the front office, who gets the chop first: GM John Muckler, or coach Bryan Murray?
Sometimes, sitting in the weeds, fighting adversity throughout the season, but eventually, finding your way is a recipe for playoff success. It hasn't worked the other way for Ottawa. Maybe this has been the secret plan all along - they just didn't bother telling anybody about it first.
The obvious example is their goaltender, Gerber. He has been proven to be terrible in the first six matches. Eventually they tried the other goalie and they won a game, but in the following game they again put in the Swiss goalie and lost. Ottawa is confusing, they put in the young goalie and win, then put the Swiss one back in and lose again.Sigh. Proven to be terrible. QED.
UPDATE: He's in net again tonight and Redden is out indefinitely.
What you dont want to see on the main / front page, and you only want to see on the item page
Let’s call it “The battle of the overpaid defenceman"
The Leaf prospect pipeline
Leafs defence now a thing of envy?
Where is Alfie?
Sundin dished off to Alfredsson!
The truth about Ottawa
The Mad Hockey Blogger:
Battle of Ontario Losing Steam?
Sens Going After Critics?
Pension Plan Puppets:
The Life of Bryan
Class Is In Session
Forbes' Doesn't Do Hockey
Can people send me a mail on who you think would be the best addition to the team.
I was able to get an answer to the question on a lot of Senator fans’ minds. Is Melnyk’s patience with management running out? The answer to that, at least a day after the Atlanta collapse, was an emphatic no. In fact, when we sat down at Bert’s and talked hockey, he said he was feeling badly for management. And not at all in a “I feel badly for you because I’m about to fire you” sort of way of a “I feel badly for you because you deserve better” sort of way.
For a bemused Leafs fan, this does explain why a fool like Gord Wilson continues to collect a pay cheque. It is true that every organization out there employs their share of homers, but the Sens-sational sycophantic shilling abilities of the neophytes that report on the glorious team from Kanata have always seemed to push the limits.
For the record, I will gladly host the firemuckler.ca and firemurray.ca sites for free on a fast, U.S. based server out of the reaches of Mlakar and his henchmen.
If you run these sites, drop me a line.
(This post was written by The Mad Hockey Blogger. His second entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member)
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Is it the PP?
Is it Muckler and Murray?
Is it because Alfredsson stopped eating Wheaties?
Thing is, Ottawa fans and the Sens themselves seem so focused on what’s wrong with them, that they have yet to figure out what’s changed everywhere else.
The NHL has collectively improved this year. Almost every team has armed themselves with a chance to win any given night. In the east, the Islanders, Habs, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Washington all have winning records so far this year. That’s five teams who have moved into the hunt that weren't there this time last year. It’s huge. We're talking about a tightly fought and vicious Eastern Conference where the 12th place team may be 4 points behind the 8th place team come May. One slip up and you’re gone.
While this is all happening right before their eyes, the Senators look to be standing around wondering why they aren't the best team in the east anymore? Guys like Jason Spezza, a player who has never known adversity or struggle (remember, he didn’t WANT to play for the Ice Dogs so he left for a better team), and everyone else seem unable to cope with the fact that every night isn’t the cakewalk of past Novembers. The reality check remains without a check.
Its like watching a rich person lose their fortune but still refusing to admit they must toil with the regular folk.
And while the entitlement is gone, the sense of entitlement looks to be dying a slower death.
So when will things turn around for the Sens? When will this still heavily talented team get their act together and start winning games?
I’ll tell you: When they finally realize that they are no better than any team out there and start clawing and fighting and battling like there is no tomorrow, like there are no easy minutes, and like they really want it.
But hey, keep blaming it on the Powerplay. I’m just one opinion.
(This post was written by The Muppet. His fourth entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member)
Name: Toronto Maple LeafsThe report doesn't really contain any earth shattering revelations. It touches on the league's need for better TV contracts, that team values have risen thanks to the fixed nature of players' salaries, and that revenue sharing needs to be improved. However, in it's feature on the Ultimate NHL Franchise it features this entry for GM:
Current Value: $332 mil
Current Value: $159 mil
General Manager: John MucklerHmmm. Maybe this report isn't as insightful as it purports to be.
The Ottawa Senators' GM has achieved the best on-ice results compared with his team's payroll. His wins-to-player cost ratio has averaged 146 (46% better than the typical team) over the past three years, the best in the NHL.
(This post was written by Pension Plan Puppets. His third entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member.)
From Igloo Dreams:
Here's a radical idea for tonight: Put the Sens on the power play early and often. Their power play so far this year has been quite poor, even more so lately. During their current 5 game losing streak, they are just 2-29 on the power play. To strengthen this (admittedly ludicrious) case further, the Sens have allowed 5 shorties (they only have 7 goals on the power play all year) and the Pens have scored 4 shorties. I beat the heck out of Spezza, Alfredsson and Heatley, take some early minor penalties, and then deploy two PK units, one with Moore and Talbot and the other with Staal and Armstrong. For extra offense, you mix in Crosby and Malkin once in awhile. Should be a blowout!
I'm sure this is a bit tongue in cheek but can't say I'll be hoping Ottawa goes on the PP.
Gerber is in net for the Sens again. This seemed a strange thing to read:
Hindsight is 20/20, but Gerber told Murray he probably should have left the game after getting stunned with a shot off the neck from Atlanta's Scott Mellanby early in the third.Throwing in Kelly Guard against possibly the best offence in the league would have been better?
Lesson # 1 - Get a big lead
The Leafs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Boston tonight on the back of a Darcy Tucker powerplay goal (#1 in the NHL), Michael Peca's 400th point (could have been a Senator), and a Chad Kilger deflection.
Lesson # 2 - Get solid goaltending
While Martin Gerber was allowing 4 goals on 26 shots against the Capitals and 5 goals on 31 shots against the Thrashers, Andrew Raycroft made 28 saves on 30 shots before tweaking his groin. Martin Gerber was signed to a 3 year $11.1M contract while Andrew Raycroft was given a 3 year $6M new deal. Apparently one good year behind the NHL's best team and one good game against a underperforming Canada outweigh a season of excellence. One more reason to fire Muckler.
Lesson # 3 - Don't let the backup shut you down
The Sens failure to score on either Atlanta or Washington's second string goaltender cost the Senators both games. Their inability to stretch the lead allowed the Thrashers and the Capitals to slowly work themselves back into the game. The Leafs did the exact opposite. They added a quick 4th in the second period on the back of Ponikarovsky driving to the net and Antropov following up to pop in the rebound. When the Bruins scored their first Ponikarovsky provided the eventual margin of victory by tapping in a rebound off of Kyle Wellwood's shot.
Lesson # 4 - Don't let an injury to your goalie cost you the game
When Martin Gerber took a shot to the shoulder/neck area it left him visibly shaken and resulted in weak tying and winning goals. When Andrew Raycroft went down with a suspected groin pull, I think the reaction of every Leafs fan was 'OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT'. The Leafs, however, kept working and while they gave up two powerplay goals (geez those boards are bouncy in Boston) they did not give up the equalizer. Some would call that a test of character and the Leafs passed.
The Leafs put the Senators lesson plan lesson plan to good use. Without their captain and one of their top defencemen the Leafs went into Boston and defeated the Senators old friend Zdeno Chara. The Senators will follow in the Leafs footsteps with a Saturday night game in Boston. Maybe they will follow the Leafs example and pick up a win but the laziest team in the NHL won't like the hard work it will take
(This post was written by Pension Plan Puppets. His second entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member.)
They would probably become the best one-two punch in the NHL if they were on a line.
Of course, we haven’t seen too many mid-season trades between division rivals since probably the original six days, but what if the Leafs traded for Alfredsson?
Ok, it’s crazy, silly, would never happen... But say you were the GM on either side. Who would you offer or who would you expect in return for this trade to happen?
Keep in mind Alfreddson makes about 4.7 Million, and with salary cap you would want to send around the same money back. Package deals could work too (although no Jason Spezza to Toronto. I would kill myself).
You will find Leaf player salaries here and Senators salaries here.
I’ll go first. It would hurt, but you have to give up something of value. I would trade Kaberle and one of Sugolbov or Tellquist.
(This post was written by The Muppet. His third entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member)
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Here, cherry-picked to prove a point, are the season's relevant to Senators fans:
Year Team Record Win% Playoff Result
1983-84: Washington Capitals 48-27-5 .631 Lost in Round 2
1984-85: Washington Capitals 46-25-9 .631 Lost in Round 1
1985-86: Washington Capitals 50-23-7 .669 Lost in Round 2
1991-92: Detroit Red Wings 43-25-12 .613 Lost in Round 2
1992-93: Detroit Red Wings 47-28-9 .613 Lost in Round 1
2005-06: Ottawa Senators 52-21-9 .689 Lost in Round 2
Those last three playoff exits are famous for their meeknes.
1991-92 saw the Wings cough up a 3-1 series lead to the San Jose Sharks.
1992-93 will be familiar to Leaf fans as Nikolai Borschevsky became a folk hero with a Game 7 OT winner after the Wings coughed up another 3-1 series lead.
2005-06 as everyone saw on TV ended as the team captain and top defenceman watched a 3rd line grinder skip past them both and score the series winner...shorthanded.
Six times Murray has coached a team to a plus-.600 winning percentage only to bow out meekly in the first or second round.
Muckler's failures are documented, Murray's shortcomings are evident, and the less said about the Senators players' mental toughness (see: Playoffs) the better.
The answer to the survey is secret answer e: Fire Muckler, Fire Murray, Make a trade for a proven leader.
(This post was written by Pension Plan Puppets. His first entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member.)
- Fire Bryan Murray
- Fire Murray & make him GM
- Keep Murray as coach
- not sure
Go vote Sens fans.
What do you think of option 2? Time to hand the GM reigns to a new generation? I mean - he was actually born during WWII and not 5 years before it.
For Leaf fans, this can mean only one thing; 12 more losses to the Senators by at least a touchdown. Personally, besides the fact that I rather feel that the Leafs/Sens games have become a bore (well, after it is 5-0, so about 10 minutes in), I just don't like paying for NHL Center Ice so I can watch the Buds get taken to the woodshed by the laziest team in hockey. Maybe I can convince DirecTV to refund me for these games... and yes, the Sens are the laziest team in hockey simply because they have the laziest player in hockey, one Jason Spezza. He seems to have infected the whole team lately, and this is a point that even the most die-hard Sens fans (yes, both of you) could agree to. It was a struggle, but he somehow managed to wrest that title away from perennial front-runner Alexei Yashin. Kudos Jason.
Of course, in calling the Sens the laziest team in hockey, I open myself to criticisms like, "How can the laziest team in hockey beat the Leafs by 25 goals a game?". Clearly, logic would dictate that either: 1) The Leafs are the laziester team and I am a liar, or 2) my brain checked out long-ago when it comes to the Leafs and 'logic'.
Lets go with a little of both and call it even. I truly believe that the Leaf players are 'over' this rivalry. They are sick of playing the Sens, sick of looking at Neil furrowing his brow at the bench, sick of the whole deal. It's as if they decided, "Look, we beat them in the playoffs four straight seasons, they are dead to us."
I can't say I blame them for the attitude in general, but they are clearly forgetting one important point. They actually NEED to beat the Sens more than once a season if they would like to play hockey when it counts. Heck, I know I am sick of going into work everyday, with their dress-codes and their "don't sleep in your cube" rules, but I still have to do it. How else would I keep myself living the life of luxury, awash with the finer things in life?
They have to suck it up and play like these games matter, because they do. Bitching and moaning about it, something they mastered during the Quinn era, is a cop-out and Leafs fans should rightly demand that they play these games with more passion. If the laziest team in hockey can do it, the 'new' Leafs sure as hell better match them out there inch-for-inch. If they can't man-up and play these BoO games with some passion and self-respect, something the Sens have shown in spades, I will gladly pass the torch of laziest team onto the Buds, because it will be well deserved.
(This post was written by The Mad Hockey Blogger. His first entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member)
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Fifth Straight Loss, Third Straight Lead Blown
I will never make fun of the Southeast division again.
UPDATE: A quick check of the sitemeter indicates the search terms "fire+john+muckler" drawing plenty of disgruntled eastern Ontario fans to our humble outpost.
If you want the full Muckler rap sheet, Hockey Country and The Universal Cynic have laid it all out for your consideration. I can't believe he let Todd Simpson walk! Seriously, though if there's a specific reason to throw Muckler under the bus, I think his biggest failure has to be not landing a serious #1 goaltender when the club was in its pre-cap prime. Emery will grow into this role, but when you think about that 03/04 window, having someone who capable of making one or two clutch saves per game would've made all the difference.
Mats is there, as he should be. So is Sakic. Even Naslund squeaked in according to the writers.
However Alfredsson is MIA on this one. If he can’t crack the top ten on a team as successful as Ottawa, what does that say about him?
(This post was written by The Muppet. His second entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member)
Q) There have been at least 13 players who have played for both the Atlanta Thrashers and the Ottawa Senators. Name 10 of them.
This from the Thrasher's blog. Also, in giving reasons to come to the game they write:
4. Make fun of Canada. Alright, I kid... kind of. There's a fine line to be walked when it comes to teasing the visiting Canadian teams because 12 of the 22 players on our roster are Canadian (the Senators also have 12 canucks on their roster). That being said, the video scoreboard guys always seem to find a way to get in a few nice digs when those wacky Canadian teams come down for a visit. Will we see some Canadian Bacon clips? How about Strange Brew? Maybe even some Men With Brooms- the greatest curling movie ever made.
That'll draw the crowds. I guess they've got to try something. BTW - Canuck should always be capitalized - he should know that!
In that letter, he basically staked his own reputation on this club improving and so far it’s not happening. Call me crazy but I have a feeling his patience might be wearing thin.
Keep in mind, this start comes on the heels of yet another playoff meltdown. The Sens wilted after the Game 1 collapse. Then their season ended a few days later with Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden being reduced to spectators by a third line penalty killer. Both players had a chance to stop Jason Pominville but they opted for the lollygag route. They gently poked at him like my grandma vainly fishing around for the last runaway fondue meatball.
In most companies, when you screw up like that in such a monumental moment, it’s unforgiveable. But Melnyk stayed patient and retained his hockey operations staff, which in turn forgave both players. In fact, Redden got a big raise, along with Jason Spezza. That meant they had to cut bait on Zdeno Chara and Martin Havlat. They spent big on Martin Gerber, who’s gone 2 and 6.
Melnyk trusted that these were all the right moves. And history may still show that they were the right moves. But, between the playoff demise in May and this year’s start, I’m sure Melnyk’s trust in his current staff has now been badly shaken. Perhaps I’ll get a read on his demeanour this week.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
With trade rumours swirling and GM John Muckler at meetings in Toronto, coach Bryan Murray changed all his lines at practice this morning after the club blew a 3-0 lead against the Washington Capitals, losing 4-3 in overtime.
Garrioch at Slam Sports.
So, Murray decides the answer is to go back to the lines he started the season with. Genius. This is the type of thinking at only comes with the 110 years of experience that Murray and Muckler bring to the table.
Things have changed.
The Leafs got serious about drafting and developing defenceman and it’s finally paying dividends. With the added depth of off-season signings, and a bunch of guys about to come back from injury, soon Toronto will have a pile of NHL defenceman and nowhere to put them.
With Mcabe, Kaberle, Kubina and Gill filling out the top four, who else do you play? Ian White has been near-sensational playing over 20 minutes a game, and Colaiacovo has all the tools of a star but spends most of his time injured. After that, in no particular order, are Harrison, Bell, Kronwall and Wozneiski... All showing they can fill a bigger role than 6th or 7th D-man.
What do the Leafs do? Is it time to trade some of these guys? Ian White is probably the best trade bait right now. Do you package him with a few players and try for a blockbuster?
(This post was written by The Muppet - the third entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member. The first two can be read here and here.)
He inheritated a system from Jacques Martin with Hasek added and they went on a tear the first two months of the season last year. Since then the team has been totally average.
Other Sens fans:
A pretty big trade or a pink slip, I think. I'm not panicking as much as most of you are, but I have to think the top brass can sense the level of discontent and they'll do something, even if it's not necessarily the right move.
People are calling for Alfie's head, Murray's head, and Muckler's head. People have it right. It's in their heads. The players heads. They have the ability to get it done. Is a coaching change in order? Is a GM change in order? Is a Captain change in order? Nope! A mental shift is in order. Once they listen to the coach and get their heads out of their asses, all will be fine
I want to believe this is the sort of thing that can be fixed. I want to believe that some sort of chemistry or compromise can be coaxed out of them, through team bonding exercises or grueling roadtrips or fights, but the New York Rangers are the living proof to contest that. And you know, shame on me for saying this a month into the season, but the team's had plenty of opportunities to prove otherwise. And they still do.
(Not that Leaf fans should talk. Out of our 5 measly wins, 3 are against you.)
I was always one to say, "Give it a few weeks - it's too early in the season to make changes." But after witnessing Monday's game in person at the Verizon Center, I think changes are in order ASAP.
I would like to canvass Sens Nation right now, to see what changes you would like to see happen in Ottawa. I've heard so many theories thrown out there, but I would like to get a consensus opinion from Senators fans.
There was a time when the Senators were capable of taking their foot off the gas after securing a 2-3 goal lead. After said lead was obtained, the team went into a defensive-mode shutdown -- one of the signature moves of Jacques Martin's repertoire. It wasn't exciting, but more often than not, it was effective in the regular season.
Currently, the team seems content to secure a lead, without further planning that will ensure a victory.
Whose handiwork is this? The team's? Bryan Murray's?
The most worrisome aspect of the Ottawa Senators' latest collapse -- coming from ahead to lose 4-3 to the Washington Capitals -- is this quote the Washington Times attributed to Alex Ovechkin, who said the Sens were laughing and joking after they got up three goals in the first period:
"It looked like their (attitude) wasn't very good," the Times quoted Afleet Alex. "That got us angry."
When the sub-.500 Sens let up on the first game of a long road trip, that's a troubling sign.
Monday, November 06, 2006
The Leafs host the last place Flyers. After handing the Sabres their first regulation time loss will Toronto keep up their game or will they take Philly for granted? Expect to see Red Hot Raycroft in net again.
From the Battle of Alberta:
Craig MacTavish was fined $10, 000 today for his criticism of referee Mick McGeough following last night's debacle against the Stars. As I noted late last night, I think it would be a nice symbolic gesture for the hockey blogosphere, and in particular the Oilogosphere, to help pay the cost of MacT's fine. I think enough of us in hockey land have had enough of Mr. Magoo's antics, and this is a good way to show it. As Tyler noted in the comments last night, we can send whatever we raise to MacT. If he doesn't want it, we'll request that he give the cheque to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, or another suitable charity of his choice.
As for our Sens: Another dismal performance on the PP, another one goal loss, a closed door players only meeting afterwards, and more Alfie trade rumours.
I guess it's a good time for a four game road trip.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
The Senators centre was officially suspended by the club yesterday when he balked at being sent to the club's AHL affiiliate in Binghamton and jumped on a flight back to Russia.
Kaigorodov, who has already received part of his $600,000 signing bonus from his $2-million contract, will rejoin his club Magnitogorsk after his failed experiment to play in the NHL.
Kagorodov, 23, a much-ballyhooed signing by GM John Muckler in the off-season, simply wasn't good good enough to be the club's second line centre and didn't look like he has the desire to compete.
Does this have any impact on the salary cap if his ~$1 M is effectively declined or is it a sunk cost?
Barney's original admonishment can be found here.
Friday, November 03, 2006
From Their Historic Professional Hockey Arenas " prepared by Lisa Anne Gunderson a few years ago for her Master of Arts in Sociology.
In Chapter Five this new emphasis on multiculturalism was described as one of the reasons why Montesano, among others, experienced the Maple Leaf Gardens closing ceremony as "awkward." The Toronto case examined here showed the Maple Leafs organization as a strong symbol for the traditional WASP elite class in this city, and the kind of place they built. As such, Maple Leaf Gardens symbolized the old, dated, and even ‘backwards’ aspect of Toronto. What is interesting is how the Gardens are also venerated as a traditional place of civic pride and hockey glory. Yet the power of the ideology of progress and the belief in Toronto’s new orientation to multiculturalism can be seen in the influence it has in creating and shaping newer presuppositions of Torontonian identity.It's 140 pages or so. There will be a short quiz on Monday.
A couple of interesting games for our teams tomorrow.
The Sens host Carolina who lost last night 4-0 to the Habs. Expect to see Gerber between the pipes to face his former mates.
The Leafs play the East leading Sabres. This one is a measuring stick game for the Leafs.
"As long as I'm here, he's going to be the captain," said Senators coach Bryan Murray yesterday. "If the decision were to be made (that Alfredsson) won't be the captain anymore, it's not going to be made by me.and...
"I see what this guy does for the team. I know the role he plays and the respect he gets in the dressing room.
"He's our leader. The players respect him and Daniel Alfredsson cares about this team. He wants to have success and he does everything he can to have success."
"I don't think there's one guy in the room who would listen to (the criticism)," said Senators defenceman Wade Redden. "We all know what he means to our team and what he does for us, even though he hasn't scored piles of goals. He's the key
guy for us and the leader. Everyone looks up to him."
The story is now that the Sens are the shoppers and the Kings the sellers as they aren't happy with Conroy's performance.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
As another version of the Belfour / Long Island Bar / Water bottle tripping Auld story comes out the Leafs face their old goalie when he's on a hot streak.
From the rockin' Belfour.com press section I found this article:
Panthers coach Jacques Martin never doubted Ed Belfour would play like a standout goalie again.
Even after Belfour gave up four goals on nine shots in his season debut at Atlanta this month, Martin expressed confidence that Belfour would again resemble the future Hall of Famer he has been most of his career.
That has happened quickly. In his past two starts, Belfour stopped 60 of 64 shots in wins over Philadelphia (3-2) and the New York Rangers (4-2). Since the Atlanta debacle, he has allowed only 10 goals on 122 shots for a .918 save percentage.
UPDATE: 2 Goals on 25 shots for the Eagle. A nice win against his former buds.
|Colorado Avalanche:||Joe Sakic||1995|
|Toronto Maple Leafs:||Mats Sundin||1997|
|Montreal Canadiens:||Saku Koivu||1999|
|Ottawa Senators:||Daniel Alfredsson||1999|
|Vancouver Canucks:||Markus Naslund||2000|
|Edmonton Oilers:||Jason Smith||2001|
|Los Angeles Kings:||Mattias Norstrom||2001|
|Calgary Flames:||Jarome Iginla||2003|
|Florida Panthers:||Olli Jokinen||2003|
|Phoenix Coyotes:||Shane Doan||2003|
Now you can download full-length NHL games and watch them on your time. Whether it's a memorable game or a keepsake of your first in-arena experience, NHL Video is always available on Google.Won't be free for long. They have Ottawa's games up to the Boston match and seem further behind on the Leafs games.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
According to CFRA radio in Ottawa, the Senators Wednesday night game versus Montreal was attended by four pro scouts from Los Angeles -- one of which is rumoured to be watching captain Daniel Alfredsson.Does this actually make sense? If you are interested in making a move for Alfredsson and you send four pro scouts to a game would only one watch him? Maybe I'm reading it wrong.
Recently, however, new winds have swept through the NHL and brought about a welcome change in philosophy regarding drafting and development of young players. While the Leafs are ranked rather low on the prospect potential scale, there are still a decent number of budding young players who will most likely be making a name for themselves in a few years time.
First on the list is goaltender Justin Pogge, Canada's golden boy during last year's undefeated march to the WJC title. The rangy Albertan won every award in sight last year: WJC Gold Medal, WJC Most Valuable Player, WHL Player of the Year, WHL Top Goaltender of the Year and CHL Goaltender of the Year.
Currently sharing duties with Jean-Francois Racine and Mikael Tellqvist on the Toronto Marlies, Pogge has put up impressive numbers (.931SV%, 2.35GAA, 1SO) despite having lost two of three games. Pogge has a shot at becoming the No. 1 goalie for the Marlies over the course of the season, and possibly cracking the Leafs roster in a year or two. Looking at his stats and achievements has me convinced that the trading of Tuukka Rask (who I'll be going to watch next week) was not a bad deal at all.
It's obvious that Aubin and Tellqvist would have been in dire straits if placed in the spotlight of the No. 1 position on the Leafs.
(This post was written by Patrick - 'a Torontonian and a Leafs fan from birth, now living in Finland'. The second entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member.)
2nd last in PP% - 6 PPG scored, 4 SHG allowed. It's ridiculous.
Spezza, Heatley, Alfredsson, Corvo, and Meszaros all played over 7 minutes on the PP last night. Those five guys got the most PP time in the Boston game too. Murray keeps putting those guys out there I guess hoping they'll figure something out. It's not working.
We don't get to play the Leafs 50 times a year - they're going to have to figure out how to score on real teams.