Saturday, December 29, 2007
Life is good. Unless you're the Maple Leafs.
Offense sputtering, Toskala and McCabe injured, and Wellwood, Blake, Pony, Bell, Kilger and Antropov glorified pylons these days. Their game, like mine, seems to be in hibernation. Good for The Muppet - shitty for the Leafs.
Tonight the Rangers are in town, first home game since Dec 10th, but a shaky looking Raycroft gets the call while the team "takes no chances" with Toskala's lingering and seemingly annual groin strain.
Tough to call a loss, but I'm going with a 4-2 home ice defeat at the hands of Lundquist and the Blueshirts.
Ottawa continue their regular season domination of the NHL, playing at home against the Caps. Just the kind of bottom feeder to surprise with a good game. I took a tie in my proline so I'll mirror that here and say it goes to OT.
Weigh in, talk some shit, and blame me that it's 3-2 Sweden as I write this. I was the one who two days ago on BoO begged for some competition at this tourney. Seems it's arrived. My bad.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I only hope the Sens have something left in the tank for Saturday's game as I'll be in attendance.
The Leafs are in Philly tonight as well - and flying in Carlo to save the day. Toskala is out again.
Check out those points from 3rd to 13th - 5 pts! It's going to be a dog fight for the next 3 months.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Here's an overview of what's ahead for the Mighty Sens:
Tonight - Hawks at Sens (Toews and Kane in for a rare visit)
Tomorrow - Sens at Rangers (Emery in tonight, Gerber tomorrow)
Boxing Day - Sens at Buffalo
December 27th - Islanders at Sens (yours truly will be in attendance - first game in ages)
December 29th, January 1st - home and home with the Capitals
What's on your gift list? I'd love to see Volchenkov back and blocking pucks, and of course a goalie for my listing BoOB squad wouldn't hurt either.
Sens 5, Hawks 3 - look for the return of the Big Line, Phillips makes Havlat's head bleed.
Friday, December 21, 2007
I remember someone saying during the playoffs that an exploding stick would cost someone a game one night. Well, there it was.That was Leafs' coach Paul Maurice after watching Pavel Kubina's stick snap in half for the second time in the game right before the Lightning came down and scored in the last minute of the third period. Sure, these damn composites are giving every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the beer leagues a slapshot that can break your ankle but it's not all rainbows and lollipops.
Ask the goalies and those sticks are the main reason for their need for the massive equipment. There is no empirical evidence but I am going to accuse those tools of the devil with increasing the number of broken ankles, feet, and hands from blocking shots because the puck comes off the stick like a freaking bullet. No stats but they also have decreased shooting percentage since you never really know where those damn shots are going.
You can't feel that they are broken so NHLers are playing with broken sticks that are primed to snap as soon as they are ready to take a shot. Other players know this and hit the sticks in the middle (which is usually a penalty agaisnt the Leafs but never against anyone else and really should not be considered slashing) to soften them up. Even pricks in beer leagues do this which is why I use good old Canadian lumber.
They are also responsible for the most frustrating play in hockey, a Mats Sundin powerplay slapshot that misses the net and rings out of the zone. Actually, that's not fair. That play is mostly Bryan McCabe's fault for not realizing (after three years) that when The Captain is winding up he should inch closer to the boards just in case and especially since he's so damn slow.
Anyway, your thoughts on the glory of the composite stick are welcomed. When will a coach ban them on his team?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Toronto will insert Anton Stralman into the line-up who, after stating he would rather play in Sweden than for the Marlies before training camp, now feels that his time in the AHL will have him better prepared for his second NHL stint.
"I definitely learned the game a little bit more; there's a big difference between this hockey and European hockey"
How much he has learned remains to be seen. He looked good in his 8 games with the Leafs earlier, moving the puck well and gave good value in the Toronto end of the ice, however the offence promised by admiring Swedish journalists wasn't evident. He'll get some 2nd PP time with Ian White, but otherwise will be the 3rd defensive pairing with Wozneiwski.
Kubina will get the lion's share of McCabe's minutes, now playing with Kaberle, his team Czech line-mate. They were great together before Kubina's 10 game injury layoff earlier in the year.
Colaiacovo skated hard yesterday but is still a few days from practicing with the team. Raise your hand if you've given up on the fact this guy will ever play a full season of NHL hockey.
Leafs at the Hurricanes, 7:30pm, Rogers Sportsnet. Staal and co. are 4-6 in their last ten, but are coming off a good win. They have allowed more goals this season than the Leafs AND have played more games. They are alone in doing this.
Toronto have had a few days off after back to back games in Atlanta and then Montreal. I predict a Leaf team with far more jump than the lethargic looking crew we witnessed Saturday. Leafs 4 Canes 2. This feels like a Steen/Stajan night.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
One that struck me while watching bits of the Thrashers-Leafs last night was how much the Thrashers remind me of the late 90s, early 00s Senators. You can pretty much find an analogy in every spot on the roster. Marian Hossa and Todd White are, of course, Marian Hossa and Todd White, respectively. Kovalchuk is the big, selfish Russian - Yashin. Their flaky, spirit-crushing goaltending is Patrick Lalime/Jani Hurme. Bobby Holik is a rich man's Radek Bonk. Garnet Exelby is Chris Phillips. Nick Havelid is Ricard Persson and the rusty Alexei Zhitnik has to be Igor Kravchuk. More than the roster though, it was amazing the way they'd get these crazy flurries of activity around the opposing team's net, a clutch of snipers in perfect position and somehow they just couldn't will the puck past an otherwise average goaltender. Sound familiar yet?
Ok, I'll leave you with that and demand a 5-2 Sens win. (Alfie x2, Heatley x2, Corvo). All goals will come on the man advantage as the Sens use Atlanta's third-worst penalty kill to increase the value of their powerplay from "not worth a crap" to "worth precisely one crap".
Friday, December 14, 2007
Toronto at Atlanta
The last Toronto road trip of this obscene length was back in 1999. Toronto went 4-2 with a tie. Some of you may be too young to remember ties, so you'll have to take our word for it. They sucked to watch, but they weren't a circus like we have now.
If Toronto can come home with a similar record this time around, 4-2-1, that would be decent. I would prefer 5-1-1. The OT loss probably coming in Montreal, tomorrow, because it just seems to be the way it goes between us two.
Which brings up a good question. Who starts these games in net for Toronto? Toskala shouldn't play both, but maybe he could since he is coming off three full days of rest? I'm not sure if you want to risk it, health-wise. Personally I would give Raycroft tonight in Atlanta and save Toskala for the Bell Center. As soon as Maurice lets his intentions be known, we'll update it here.
First things first, Recchi gets zero points tonight and Antropov takes back his lead over Spezza in league scoring. You heard it here first.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Well, then! In last night's shelling of the Canes, all 6 goals were scored at even strength, although the Sens only had three defined opportunities with the man advantage. I fully concur that a 14th place PP is inconsistent with a Conference-leading team, particularly one with a perplexing inability to convert 5-on-3's into clutch goals. Sweet individual even-strength efforts like Vermette's on Friday or Spezza's on Wednesday may get the job done against lightly penalized teams, however, certain memorable foes are going to key in on the fact that they can gangster it up and not have to pay a price.
"I think our power-play percentage is better than it deserves to be," said Paddock. "I looked at the stats a couple of weeks ago and our power-play percentage is higher than (it was) at this time last year and it's higher than we finished at in the regular season last year.
"But it really hasn't been worth a crap. In saying that, it has scored a lot of key goals in the third period. It got the winner (Friday) night in Dallas, but for most of the game it wasn't that good. I would say we have five- or six-game winning goals in the third period."
"We don't put enough constant pressure on the opposition's penalty killing," said Paddock. "It's for different reasons: We don't outwork the penalty killers. Joe Corvo shoots the puck as hard as anybody from the point, but he doesn't always want to shoot it. He gets sucked in by some of these skill guys wanting it on the side and wanting (the puck) to go through them. When he does shoot it, there isn't always someone in front.
"(The power play) can be substantially better and, at least, give us some momentum. It's not right and it's not good enough, that's for sure."
"We need to include everybody on it. Spezza doesn't have to always look for (Heatley)," said Paddock. "Wade and Joe need to move their feet across the blue line. There's lots of things that can be better."
Here's to a 5-4 NON SHOOTOUT, REGULATION TIME victory for the Ottawa Sens. Penguins will come out fired up after the debacle in Philly, but 07-08's most over-hyped team will be no match for their now alert and awake opponent.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Why? Because they are due. And the Leafs are nothing if not good brothers in the NHL and they will want to reward the Lightning for their efforts with two points. So Leafs: DON'T F*&$ING DO IT!
Go Leafs Go!
Friday, December 07, 2007
Anecdotally (and perhaps statistically) the East is considered the weaker conference, although the otherwise mediocre Penguins have shredded the Northwest and Pacific divisions, going 6-1-0 in their hyped-up contests so far.
Sens in the last two and a quarter seasons against the West:
07-08: 0-1-0 (visit Pacific, host Central)
06-07: 4-5-1 (visit Central, host Northwest)
05-06: 5-2-3 (visit Northwest, host Pacific)
Note that the 05-06 swings had Poppy McGroin between the pipes, so a middling 9-8-4 record perhaps could have been worse.
Sens 3, Stars 1 (Alfie, Fisher, Vermette).
Thursday, December 06, 2007
But tonight the Leafs will tempt fate as the newly healed Pavel Kubina is in and Staffan Kronwall is out. Before he got hurt 10 games back Kubina was earning every penny of that $5M contract. Perhaps it's a bit much to expect him to be at this level after such a hiatus, but the PP2 back end will have, at the very least, a little more venom. We could use it.
Tlusty joined Kronwall on the boat headed back to Marlieworld, temporarily ending by far the most bizarre call-up in recent memory. According to Maurice it's best Tlusty heads to the AHL where he can play some well endowed minutes. Perhaps he will help erect a few digits into the teams already impressive win total? So long as he's not too cocky now that he's been an NHL player. If you drink and drive, you're a Dick.
Overall, Leaf fans are feeling pretty good. We're playing well, we're almost healthy (what is the 10-20 on Colaiacovo anyway?), Antropov is finally playing like a 10th overall draft pick, and our number one goaltender looks like a number one goaltender. The warm fuzzy feelings at the ACC were such that fans felt inclined to give birth to official Vesa Toskala chants on Tuesday night. Deservedly so. He's been terrific.
Speaking of which, to all the Sens fans who mouthed off about the Leafs extending Toskala's contract, it will officially come back to haunt you in about 2 seconds:
RAY EMERY: .891 - 2.82
VESA TOSKALA: .903 - 2.56
Let the good feelings roll.
Leafs 2 Rangers 1 (OT)
You don't encourage players with a previous history of swinging their stick to take hacks at the opposition for the hell of it -- that's indefensible and ridiculous.On the first point, the swing was not for the hell of it. Darche did interfere with Ray and more importantly, if your goalie feels he needs to take a swing at a guy it should fire up the team - it should embarass the team. The play of the team after that was evidence enough, no? Erin asks: "what would have happened if Ray had made contact -- one-handed or not?" Surely no more than a game unless Darche was injured - it wasn't at the head.
The Sens are barely clinging to the last shreds of goodwill that they've earned with this city.
On the second, I don't see it. I don't feel the team was close at all to losing the city. I didn't really hear it on the Team. Your experience?
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The Sens look set to go with their "battler", Ray Emery to help get the team off of Skid Row.
In this dark and desolate stretch of the season, the list of Bumfights candidates is quite comprehensive, including:
1. Antoine Vermette: 2 points, -8 in the last month.
2. Randy Robitaille: scored 2 goals playing with Heatley and Spezza then...eh, passed out in an alley somewhere?
3. Chris Kelly: similar to his linemate, 2 points, -6 in the last month.
4. Mike Fisher (he's got the beard to go with this part of town): Goose eggs, -8 since the loss to TO.
5. Dean McAmmond: I hate to pick on a guy whose bell's still ringing, but nary a goal in 16 games back.
So who will pull themselves up by their bootstraps tonight? Can those who are unable to make a valuable contribution on the ice be reassigned to other make-work duties such as picking up pop bottles out of 417 drainage ditches, or updating the player blog?
Sens 6, Panthers 0. Alfie x3, Fisher, McAmmond, Robitaille. Vermette / Kelly aces on the penalty kill. Foligno drops the mitts with Nathan Horton after cranking up "Youth Gone Wild" on his pregame iPod shuffle.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
If you want to bicker with sens fans and haven't gotten enough since Sunday and Monday were pretty tame then stick around here and laugh with glee as the Leafs stretch their winning streak to 3 games and cut the sens' lead atop the division to 6 points. Sure, there are games in hand involved but like sens fans like to point out; games in hand are not necessarily wins in hand. Especially when your team is reeling on the back of SIX STRAIGHT LOSSES.
Here's my question: why didn't they lose 4 straight to open the playoffs and save us all of the grief last Spring. After all, the Leafs did their part.
Anyway, the Predators are still very good despite having lost some stars - Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg, Tomas Vokoun, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen- because, shock of all shocks, they work hard. How successful has the adoption of the hard-work ethos been? Radek Bonk is the team's leading scorer. Yes, the Radek Bonk that was absolutely useless as anything else than a checker for the Habs.
Also, Scott Nichol is suspended for cross-checking Patrice Brisebois in the face. I know Nichol is no logician but you generally want to hurt the opposition's good defencemen and not guys nicknamed Breeze-by. Or at least wait until you play the Leafs to take out the bottom rung defenceman.
Poni x2, Sundin x2, Antropov, Kaberle - Sundin also fights Tootoo after the runt tries to elbow him in the end and glides off of the ice with 22's head clutched by the hair as his body twitches in the corner.
Monday, December 03, 2007
When they went to play the Leafs at the ACC on Nov 17 something happened. I've pulled the stats of the games before and after that game.
After that game the team started missing more shots, giving the puck away more, not taking the puck away as much, and losing more faceoffs.
Obviously something happened that night in Toronto. McCabe got the 1st star that night too!?!
Voodoo perhaps? We need to know!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Here are the highlights from the last time these two teams met. In one of the team's best performances of the year Jiri Tlusty burst onto the scene with two goals including one off of his ass prompting a Giggles-like quotation about how he felt it a little bit in his behind and then it was in the net.
Predictions: Leafs 5 - Pens 3 Bell with his first as a Leaf, Sundin, Antropov, Tucker, Wellwood.
The Sens will need to accept the fact that at least 5 or 6 more decent shots are going to find their way to the net with 0.5 of their shut down pairing dispatched to tend to matters on planet Volchen. As such, throwing everything plus the kitchen sink at Lundquist is what will be required to overcome Yaminy's damage. Neither team's powerplay is particularly scary right now, so don't be afraid to take a run at certain pests if you get the urge. I'd think each of Heatley, Spezza, Alfie and Redzaros will crack the 25 minute ice time mark easily.
Prediction: 7-2 Sens. Alfie scores natural hat trick, screams I AM BEOWULF, tears Avery's arm from his body at the shoulder before running to his home in the marshes to die.
Although Muppet retains control of the BoOB and technically gets to pick the Saturday night pump-up music, I'd like to take the opportunity to dedicate some old skool Tom Green (unlike Jason Spezza, a product of the Ottawa education system) to all the SenzHataz from Jane & Finch!
I'm taking an old university acquaintance on tour today and will likely be firing up the Molson Jet Pack at some point, so you may find me unreachable by the time the Pens take on the Leafs.
Happy hockey night, everyone.