Friday, February 29, 2008
Anyway, here's my game day thread be sure to click over and participate over there as well as here. Except Duff.
Prediction - Pain.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
It all feels quite weird. The firing of the coach of a 36-22-6 hockey club (the highest scoring team in the league to boot) is difficult to explain to those who haven't been following the Sens intently over the last few seasons. In addition to a lingering inability to weather rough patches in the regular season or playoffs, there is a recurring sense among fans and perhaps ownership, that the "window" is closing shut and there is no more time for experimentation or redevelopment. Looking at the cup rings and "grit" that has been brought in over the last few months I find myself wondering whether they've arrived too late and thinking that these types of additions are exactly what was needed to get some of those teams of a few years back over the hump.
Having another look at Paddock's record by month, on paper I'd frankly have a hard time explaining the firing to myself:
October 9-1-0 (Gerber on a tear to open it up)
December 9-3-2 (although these look fine considering the Sens usually fare badly at this time of the year, the initial 16-3-0 start was followed up by a seven game winless streak straddling November and December)
January 7-7-0 (.500 hockey despite injury to Heatley, best game of the season against Detroit)
February 4-6-2 (four losses, two goose eggs against division rivals and a pair of one-goal decisions dropped to the closing Devils)
More specific issues pointed out by the fans, and on which I generally concur, included the following:
1. Inability to settle on forward line combinations outside of Heatley/Spezza/Alfredsson. There were a few that caught fire for a game or two (Schubert/Fisher/Neil, Vermette/Kelly/Stillman) and then completely disappear. (Important Note: Murray was also guilty of this).
2. Relying too much on the Pizza line. Average time on ice has increased by about a minute to a minute-and-a-half for the big three over last year. They're responsible for 42% of Ottawa's goals so far, not much changed from the previous season total of 39%. (Important Note: Pizza got Murray through the first three rounds of the playoffs last year, only to be smothered by Anaheim's checking line from hell)
3. Bungling of the goaltending situation. Not only did win-and-you're-in not account for undisciplined play that was not of the tender's doing, but rewarding Emery with starts after a loss by Gerber sent the wrong message after the latter's great comeback and the former's attitude issues to start the season. (Important Note: Murray resigned Emery immediately prior to arbitration - whether he could have let him walk and gone shopping for whatever was available remains a mystery in pictures)
4. Calling out star players publicly. Again, there's only so many times you can get away with this, and you probably need to earn the player's respect before doing so. (Important Note: As GM, Murray has requested Redden waive his no-trade clause, actively and publically shopped both goalies, as well as two of his best penalty killers)
5. An unprecedented tune-out in the last 120 minutes of hockey (although Alfie says it's B.S.). Unprecedented even going back to the days of Sparky Allison. If anything made the case for the firing it was a completely healthy lineup that put in a lifeless effort in front of both goalies.
In sum, I think there's a very fine line between the opportunities that Paddock wasted and the challenges that were put in his path by his eventual successor. Keep in mind that Murray promoted Paddock himself, at root this is his failure to judge the ability of his assistant and how the team would respond to his coaching style. Whether we'll see dramatic improvements in team defence or focus seems to me a bit of a stretch.
Over to you, boys!
Sens 5, Flyers 2 (Alfie x2, Spezza, McAmmond, Redden).
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
A win tonight, and around 14 more, just might do it.
Oh dear lord...
This one will be a solid 3-1 win by God's team.
If you have a second, feel free to disagree.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
As of midnight on the left coast, we've got the other Vinnie headed back to Philadelphia for Alex Picard and a pick.
Mirtle has also linked to reports of a possible Richards - Smith swap between Tampa and Dallas, as well as a Hossa - Ryder deal between the Thrashers and Habs.
Will we get any last minute shockers like last year's Ryan Smyth deal? Which Battle team will make a move first? Which major sports website will crash first? How ridiculous will Eklund look? What percentage of national GDP will be lost today due to hockey fans refreshing their browsers every 30 seconds?
Keep us posted in the comments, and if our token french Canadian finally gets shipped off to Georgia or Tennesee, I may just need a shoulder to cry on.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sportsnet Ontario and East.
Don did a great set-up to this game yesterday, so the only thing left is predictions:
Leafs win it 5-0
Sundin with a pair, just to shut everyone up and remind us who's boss.
Enjoy. I'll be watching it later on the PVR.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Game 1 in Toronto: Sens win 4-3 in OT
Game 2 in Ottawa: Sens win 3-2
Game 3 in Ottawa: Sens win 5-1
Game 4 in Toronto: Leafs win 3-1
Game 5 in Toronto: Leafs win 4-2
Looks like home ice has meant something this year. Game 6 is here in Ottawa and is on Sportsnet.
If any of the guys Fletcher wants to move waive their NTC, expect them to miss this game. McCabe and Sundin are the two I guess are left as Tucker is staying for the good of the team and it seems like nobody wants Kubina.
What will be the effect? It could fire up the Blue team and they get them playing over their heads. They could come out and mail it in. They've clawed their way from 29th to 27th. Just a few more to get out of a lottery pick.
The Sens? Will Emery get tapped again? They play the next night in Boston so I'm sure each will get a start. Did yesterday's game break the team out of their funk or will it enforce an attitude that makes the team think they can turn it on at will?
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
I'm just throwing this out there to kick off the trade deadline discussions.
We'd fit them in this year no problem. Ottawa can add a full year equivalent of 12 million at this time of the year.
Next year would be tough.
You're looking at Alfie, Spezza, Heatley, Richards, Fisher, Neil, McAmmond, Foligno, Bass, Phillips, Volchenkov, Schubert, Emery, and Elliot/Glass making 45 million and you need to add at least 4 up front and 3 D. The expected cap next year is about 53.3
Say you bring up Nycholat or Brian Lee and resign Richardson the two would take up about 1.5. Bring up Hennessey and resign McGratton would be another 1.3 say. That gives you 5.5 to sign a few players. Say we can get Commodore to re-sign to play the 3/4 pairing with Schubert and hopefully re-sign Kelly and Donovan assuming they'll all take a bit of a discount to try to repeat as champs.
Lines this year:
Heatley, Spezza, Alfie
Stillman, Richards, Fisher
Robitaille, Kelly, Neil
Schubert, McAmmond, Donovan
Heatley, Spezza, Alfie
Foligno, Richards, Fisher
Donovan, Kelly, Neil
Bass, McAmmond, McGratton
And don't talk to me about Tampa Bay's supposed cap problem with 'the big three'. They aren't spending near the cap. We're a high revenue town now with the dollar at par and fans filling the barn.
To see the cap numbers for next year with this roster...
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Sens have averaged 3.00 goals for per game in February, below their season average of 3.35. Goals against, perhaps the most troubling stat of the season, have also been higher than the 23rd in the league average of 2.90, at 3.25 for the eight games this month. Ray Emery will get the start tonight, Coach Paddock having abandoned the futile win-and-you're-in strategy after Emery's last loss to the Devils. A climbdown for sure, and while many fans have roasted him for bad player management, he can hardly be blamed for the injuries to Heatley and Alfredsson or the fact that the team is yet again shuffling between two number two goalies (blame Sweater Man for that travesty).
I'll go with a 4-2 Sens win over the visiting Blue Jackets (Stillman, Vermette, Heatley, Fisher). The line of Vermette/Kelly/Stillman continues to gel and hopefully either keeps them off the trading block or keeps their stock value high enough to land a big name on Tuesday.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The hot topic at the GM meetings, besides trades, is the size of goaltending equipment. Some think they need better rules so guys aren't taking advantage of the allowable sizes:
Brodeur, who is 6-foot-2, wears pads that are 34-35 inches in length and can't understand why most goalies in the league are wearing the maximum 38-inch pads."There's no reason why anyone under six-feet should be wearing 38-inch pads, but everybody is wearing them," he said.
That's because they suck Marty. That's because they suck...
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Here is what I dug up:
2002 DRAFT: After coaching the Ducks into the ground in 2001/2002, now GM Bryan Murray gets to choose 7th overall. He takes Joffrey Lupul. After this high first round pick, guess how many NHL players he drafted in the following 8 rounds? None.
2003 DRAFT: Murray arrives to his 2nd and final draft as Anaheim GM with two first round picks. He picks Ryan Getzlaf with his 19th overall pick, and then Corey Perry with the 28th in this very deep first round. The deepest in years. In fact, Nathan Horton, Eric Staal, Marc Andre-Fleury, Dion Phaneuf, Ryan Suter, Zack Parise, Jeff Carter, and Ryan Kesler are all taken before Perry's name is called. In the next 7 rounds (Anaheim have no 2nd rounder), Murray finds one more NHLer in Shane O'Brien.
NOTABLE PLAYERS MURRAY SIGNED WHILE GM:
Steve Thomas, Adam Oates, Peter Sykora, Sandis Ozilinsh, Rob Niedermayer, Chris Kunitz.
NOTABLE PLAYERS MURRAY INHERITED:
Giguere, Pauhlsson & McDonald.
NOTABLE PLAYERS BURKE BROUGHT TO CUP WINNING TEAM:
S. Neidermayer, Pronger, Moen, Marchant, Beauchemin, Selanne.
VERDICT: Brian Burke should thank Murray's predesessor, then himself, and then Lady Luck, and then, maybe then, a nod goes to Murray.
Thanks for coming out.
A forward and a defenceman? Jesus Cryin', didn't you just make that trade last week? A shot in the arm? This team needs a Pulp Fiction big ass needle through the breast plate. Who hired this guy?
"A bigger name that had people buzzing at the meetings Monday was that of star centre Brad Richards. With the Lightning trying to re-sign defenceman Dan Boyle, the thinking is that the team will try to move Richards".
See, this is what happens to one line teams. Take note.
"Anaheim is believed to be in hot pursuit of Sundin -- an unrestricted free agent July 1 -- but Ducks GM Brian Burke denied he was close to making any trade."
Brian, Brian, Brian... You will be a lot closer when put that pretty little Oiler pick on the table. I know, I know, you want to preserve some kind of future in Anaheim, but think about it this way: if you trade the pick now, you can have Mats AND the pick next year when you're GM of the Leafs. Wink wink.
"I've been positively surprised by myself at how good I've been able to block everything out," he (Toskala) says of his first season in the maelstrom that is Leafs hockey".
Maybe next year you will only have to worry about blocking pucks. Um, sorry about all this Vesa?
Monday, February 18, 2008
Less than 23 games left in the standings for most teams and this sucker's tight. A lot can happen, but for today lets focus on where the BoO teams will finish come end of the year:
Here are mine:
Enjoy the day off work.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Ray - we don't think you're good enough to backstop this team because of your rebound control or your lateral movement. You used stop shots 4 ft across the blueline at the boards.
Darcy, thanks for pulling the Leafs farther from the Stamkos spot.
CBC 2nd game announcers are chosen for their soothing sleep inducing sound.
500mL cans of Stella are awesome.
Peace in the middle east.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Since Nov 29th:
Whatever happens to this roster in the coming days, the future looks a helluva lot brighter with Vesa signed on. I know he's at the top of my untouchable list, what about yours? Followed by Kaberle, Stralman, Tlusty, Steen and Stajan. After that I would entertain an offer on anybody. And according to JFJ during the intermission last night, he was getting a lot of calls on a lot of different players before he was axed. So the interest was there a few weeks ago at least. Lets hope that hasn't changed.
My prediction is we'll get the first Leaf casualty this weekend. Who will it be?
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
But hold on.
Fans don't run this team. Neither do the media. Even us bloggers, self-proclaimed experts on everything from rosters to Ray Emery's drug habits, hold the leverage of a popsicle stick when it comes to what happens on the ice. The players are alone with their hands on the wheel in this one. The rest of us, mere observers.
So where the hell are they taking this broken down golf cart anyway?
The players keep saying they haven't given up. You want to think it's all bravado and optics, but they seem sincere enough. They're focused on making the playoffs. Why? Maybe because the distance between them and 8th place is an anorexic seven points. Even more scary, they're only eight points out of 7th place but with two games in hand. I suck at math, but even I can see how you could wrangle a little hope out of that equation.
Still, either Mats and co. are disillusioned as all hell, or maybe they're the only calm left in this whole ugly storm? It's hard to be sure.
What is for certain? This week will decide everything. Lose 2 of 3, and you can bet your Ikea dresser that Sundin will be a Vancouver Canuck or San Jose Shark or Detroit Red Wing inside two weeks. But win all three games, and maybe the hand that holds the plug will not be so quick to pull it? Hey, crazier things have happened. Even in Toronto, from time to time.
Toronto @ Buffalo, 7:30.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
We apparently like guys who thrive under pressure, and increasingly guys from good old Ontario. Does everyone remember when the Sens were allegedly stacked with too many Euros to win a cup? Here's the birthplace of the current roster:
Half the team is from Upper Canada in addition to some prairie beef on the blueline. Murray, Donovan, Robitaille and Richardson were all born in or grew up in the Ottawa area). The German, Swiss, Russian, Swede and Slovak are only there for a little Continental flair.
And finally tonight, the post title is a nod to the biggest goldfish in the bowl, the prodigal son, the prima donna, the OTR regular, but most importantly, the Sabres killer (10-3-0 and 1), Ray Emery. I think this tune needs to be slotted in alongside "Big Gun" and "The Heat Is On" for when Ray comes off a sequence of decent saves. Take it away Chamillionaire.
4-1 Sens (Fisher, Stillman, Alfie, Heatley).
Topics to discuss:
- How do the other Eastern Conference teams (especially Montreal which is like a poor man's ottawa) react?
- What other moves might Murray think about making even if his statements seem to indicate that he will stand pat?
- Would standing pat make this a successful trade deadline period for the sens?
- Will this move give the sens the impetus needed to take a strangle hold on the BoO on February 25th?
- Trader Cliff is being quiet. Too quiet. What kind of blockbuster deal will he make?
Ok, have at it.
Monday, February 11, 2008
TSN has Stillman listed as "Top six winger." under Career Potential. Um.... really?Anyway, two Cups to him, one to Commodore and one to Gerber (chuckles). Anyway, Stillman may get his first 30 goal year with the Sens. Here's hoping. Ok .... we need a new post for imaginary lineups!I think that this is a good deal and it's nice for Murray that Muckler didn't trade Eaves last year for Gary Roberts since he was so valuable. Alright, what are the lines? Clearly Spezza needs his security Heatley at his side but who's on the other flank and who gets to play their way to a big pay-day with Stillman and Alfie?
Instant Update: Mirtle does a little more analysis (I think my comment was up first the crook!)
The Senators, in other words, come away with about $570,000 in cap space, which leaves them with about $3-million room. That prorates to about $7.5-million given there is only 40 per cent of the season left to play, which means GM Bryan Murray can add a few other additions at will.And suddenly I am not as absolutely sure that the sens will fall on their faces in the playoffs...
Next Season: This is when the move will really start to pay off depending on how much salary is added before the deadline but according to NHL's Cap the sens' figure for next year was $41,902,329. By removing Corvo's salary and avoiding Eaves' RFA status that figure drops to $38,335,209 and that was not even including a raise for Eaves. That leaves Meszaros and Vermette as the team's only RFAs on the regular roster and Wade Redden, Commodore, Kelly, Robitaille, Richardson, and Stillman as the UFAs to be signed (or not) with about $15M in space based on a projected cap of $53M.
Word is that Kostopolous and O'Byrne kept the missing $20 for their next night out with the FHF guys.
On the bright side, I found out we had crushed the Scabs again on HDIC, the Leafs are slowly making their way out of a lottery pick, and my kids love the t-shirts and baby gator head I brought back. Good to be back.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Thanks to squeaking out a win against Florida on Thursday, the Sens will retain control of the East after tonight one way or another, however, a statement needs to be made with a healthy lineup and a goalie who looked to be finally gaining some confidence. The best looking lines of the year will hopefully be back as follows:
And speaking of statements, Friday brought news that Redden invoked his no-trade clause in a possible deal with the Sharks. The leak upset Murray and forced Redden to issue a statement claiming he wants to stick around and win a cup (surely San Jose would also be considered a contender?). In any event, it's time to move on and consider that the best way to cover up his defensive liabilities and soft play is to keep playing him and Corvo with the pizza line whenever possible. When that line is having a night, the puck is constantly under their control and 6 and 7 can pinch in with relative impunity. The downside, of course, as exposed in the Anaheim series and during the recent spate of injuries, is that when Pizza gets neutralized by an aggressive checking line, it's a pretty awful sight in the Sens end.
Onward we go. Sens 4, Habs 1. Heatley x2 (23 goals in 26 games - you gotta believe!), Redden, Neil.
Nick. Haven't you been listening to Sens fans? Nobody wants Leafs at the deadline. What the hell do you know anyway?
"This year hasn't been great for me personally." -Darcy Tucker
Thanks for clearing that up. We had no idea.
"Ottawa has struggled without Alfredsson in the lineup. Before their 5-4 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday, the Senators had lost all six previous games this season without him."
Man, this team doesn't handle injuries very well huh? That's OK, it's only the playoffs coming and I'm sure Ottawa will be 100% healthy throughout. Nothing to worry about.
"While the 30-year-old currently has no interest in leaving Ottawa, a city he has spent his entire 11-year NHL career with, it's highly unlikely he'll return next season."
And here I thought Emery was a distraction. Imagine being in the dressing room now?
"Forward Nik Antropov will return to the lineup today after serving a three-game suspension for tossing his stick and having it land near on-ice officials".
Back in the line-up, hockey day in Canada, against the winningest team in the NHL. No pressure.
"The most dangerous lie of our time arose from this great article by this great article by Kim Jorn. He did a great job of showing how clueless the Montreal cabbie was but in the comments a blatant falsehood made an appearance. A lie that I have heard perpetrated with pride by Montrealers repeatedly and echoed by an inebriated bird-watcher:"
What is this lie? Find out and see it debunked here. I think you know where it'll take you but I get to link to whatever I want.
(Jay will have your HDIC gameday thread along soon I would imagine)
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Sens vs. Panthers up in 15.
Who's feeling the most bummed out after Tuesday night's debacles? Is it Spezza, the crutchless wonder? Meszaros, looking like that Timbit kid who does a face-plant in the commercial? Marty Gerber, who once again lost his starting job to the likes of Ray Emery? Mats Sundin, embarrassed enough by another 8 goal torching to waive the no-trade clause? Saku Koivu, after being benched by Carbo?
Life will be sunnier at the BoO after a 3-1 Leafs win (Tucker, Sundin, Kaberle) and a 5-1 Senators win (Heatley x2, Spezza, Corvo, McAmmond).
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
- Do you make a move for a starting goalie?
- Do you choose one goalie, ride him out, and trade the other?
- Do you finally make a move to get some real secondary scoring or do you keep pretending that Eaves, Vermette, Kelly, Neil, Fisher, et al are anything other than decent-great third line players?
- and most importantly, what do you do with Wade Redden?
From the internet abyss into which Erin fell after this article (and where is our picture puzzle solution!?!?) she brings up a troublesome scenario: What if Redden just leaves July 1?
My reaction: There is a hockey god.
For sens fans, Heatley and Alfie practiced. I guess that means ottawa can start on getting that chicken bone out of their throats. 0-7 and 0-9 without Alfie and Heatley respectively. Good to see Spezza earn his salary.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Two ornery teams face off at the Bell Centre tonight. The Canadiens, who are coming off a blown 3-0 lead on the Rangers, and your Ottawa Senators, who are scrapping in practices, beaking at reporters following 40 minute team meetings, waiting for their two of their three top scorers to heal and are apparently desperate to land some old guy with a floppy ankle to secure their championship ticket.
With a clear edge in Orne, as well as, a penalty kill that carries over Saturday's performance against the league's deadliest power play, the Sens will prevail with a 4-0 victory (Fisher x2, Kelly, Redden).
Monday, February 04, 2008
"They (Toronto) scored four goals from the crease. That's just unbelievable... We're just not competing. Defencemen just can't let guys stand there. If you're going to take a penalty, take one for removing someone's helmet with a cross-check. That's hockey. Any penalty that saves a goal is a good penalty. Have a little bit of balls to do that."
Somebody a few months back on BoO was certain that the Sens were not nearly as good as their 16-3 record. He took a lot of flak. Most geniuses do.
"Moore, who was claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Jan. 11, banged a rebound past Ray Emery at 9:32 for his first goal in 10 games in the blue and white. A Luke Richardson giveaway to Boyd Devereaux behind the net set it up".
Toronto hits the waiver wire while Ottawa hit the 40 year old UFA pool.
Toronto 1 Ottawa 0
"Ottawa's Jason Spezza again looked lost without the injured Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson".
One would think $7M would get you a guy who can make things happen by himself. Tlusty has two goals since being on Sundin's wing last week. Spezza can't even tie his skates without Heatley.
"Emery, who's had his fair share of incidents lately, didn't want another and said he wasn't about to overreact.''I definitely wasn't going to get into an altercation there. I might have been on the front page of a couple more papers,'' Emery said. 'Stuff happens, no big deal to me'."
A douchebag is as a douchebag does. Isn't that how it goes?
"(Toronto's) current roster is peppered with nine players born in 1983 or later: Earl, Stralman, Tlusty, Darryl Boyce, Alex Steen, Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo, Matt Stajan and Kyle Wellwood... there is also Tyler Ruegsegger, who showed obvious talent while playing on the U.S. team at the world junior championship, and Toronto native Chris DiDomenico now the leading scorer in the QMJHL with Saint John... Justin Pogge and Nik Kulemin, both 22, very well could make the jump to the NHL next season."
Cut to the year 2010 as Brian Burke, GM of the newly minted Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs, gives props to JFJ for his contribution to the talented young core of the team.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Season series is 3-1 Senators, with all three wins by tonight's benchwarmer Marty Gerber. Alfie, Eaves, Bass, Heatley (and possibly Phillips) are out for the Sens, while Bell, Devereaux, Kilger, McCabe, Ponikorovsky and Steen are injured for the Leafs (in addition to the first of a three-game suspension for Antropov). Look for a disciplined 2-1 Sens victory (the absolutely lethal top line of Chris Kelly, Jason Spezza and Chris Neil combine for the pair).
Go Sens. Go Pats.
There is a media generated myth out there that Toronto fans won’t stand for a rebuilding. In fact it is the media themselves that won’t stand for it. At this point in history the Leafs for the first time seem to be on the verge of actually tearing the whole thing down and starting with a fresh slate. This could mean another three years of horrible hockey teams. Not just mediocre but downright horrible. Remember all the teams that are now looked upon as future dynasties (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Chicago) were truly awful for a number of years. In fact Buffalo and Pittsburgh were so bad the viability of the franchises was in some doubt for a time. While the Leafs will certainly never teeter on the edge of financial ruin you can bet that if they stay at the bottom for another two years the same scribes who were screaming for a rebuild will dig out their “how can they charge that much for a crappy product, they are lining their pockets and taking the fans for suckers” columns and then a week later complain that the fans are too impatient and aren’t willing to wait for a rebuild.
Had he known there was steak on the line, he might have run away with the BoOB title this year.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Paddock announced afterward that Ray Emery will start against the Maple Leafs tomorrow at Air Canada Centre.Discuss.
Goalie Martin Gerber, who allowed three goals on seven shots in the first, wasn't great, but didn't seem thrilled when he heard the news that Emery will be between the pipes.
"No comment," said Gerber.
UPDATE: Brennan on his blog:
Ray Emery is not upsetting this apple cart.