Thursday, January 29, 2009

Game Day: Two twelfths, a thirteenth and a fifteenth

Ay-yai-yai. Not a pretty night for hockey viewing in the Ontario region. Some current and ex-leafs hook up in Denver and the Sens shuffle into St. Louis after a whooping from the Devils. Even winning won't prove much tonight, as the Blues are without Kariya, McDonald, Brewer and Johnson.

At least we'll always have Eugene. And Ray. And OC Transpo.

How many more days left till the draft? I need to install a ticker on the sidebar or something.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mid-season ambivalence

I can't recall any specific predictions I made about how the Sens would place this season, although an early poll response got me thinking they'd squeeze in somewhere between 8th and 10th. While the team has gotten off to a much suckier start than I expected, they've managed to make up some ground on the eve of the All-Star break and are now diminishing the somewhat bittersweet prospects of fetching the number 1 draft pick and commencing a rebuild. Or do they really need a high pick? We are long removed from those late round steals that panned out in the late 90s, but who knows what you might find down the order (see the post below). Hence, more ambivalence. Even the raw numbers can't help convince you the team is thoroughly rotten. The goals for have continued their fall off a cliff, although goals against have dropped slightly from last season (surprising, when you consider what's left of the blueline). Powerplay is perfectly mediocre, penalty kill is one of the few consistent bright other words "meh".

Tough luck for the Gerb, too. I can't say I'm thrilled that the poor guy couldn't live up to expectations. He's a damn good backup and will surely find stable employment elsewhere (either here or overseas). I'm happy he's finally off the hook (and potentially off the books), but it means at least several seasons before we know for sure what we've got with Elliot.

Speaking of being just on the cusp of giving a crap, here are the BoOB point totals at the All-Star break. Yup, that's me in 14th - too far gone to make a charge, too proud to tank for the McCabe memorial award.

Note your point totals, and see who's due for a rise and fall in the second half.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Draft Shmaft

"Some have suggested that Chiarelli wasn't at all pleased with assistant GM Jeff Gorton's selection of Lucic because he was much lower down on Ottawa's prospect list"...
Read the rest here.

Of course, Ottawa weren't the only Ontario team to pass on Milan Lucic at the 2006 NHL draft. The Leafs took two players before Lucic slipped on a black and yellow jersey. Tlusty, in the first round. Kulemin, actually six spots higher than Lucic in the second round. I like Kulemin. I'm scared of Lucic. These things are not always subtle.

I know NHL scouts interview potential draft picks, but is that only limited to potential 1st round picks? What about the next six rounds? One would think that 15 minutes meeting and speaking to a guy like Lucic would tell you all you need to know.

This morning on my way into work I listened to an interview with Cody Hodgson on the Dean Blundell Show. Star at the World Juniors and local kid - on his way to the NHL next year, probably. 10th overall pick. Did the Leafs really have to trade away their first and two 2nd round picks to move up two spots to get Schenn? I love Schenn's game as much as anybody else, but was it the most responsible thing to do when guys like Hodgson were available at #10 and we had #7?

Whenever Burke thinks about trading away a late round pick for a role player he's not just throwing in a 6th rounder - he may be throwing in Chris DiDomenico. I highly recommend he DOES NOT resign Brad May before July 1st handing Anaheim that same draft pick for 2009.

Of course, for every later round success story, there's the narrow misses in the early rounds. In 2005 Ottawa took Brian Lee with the 9th overall pick. Anze Kopitar was taken 2 picks later by LA. Could Ottawa use a super talented +1 pt/game center making $765,000? Probably.

So why are we always talking GM's when really it's the scouts who's job it is to find the best players? Can any of you, without searching for it, name two scouts on your respective favourite team? I can't.

It seems like forever and a day ago the Leafs had the top two goaltending prospects in the world in Justin Pogge and Tuukka Rask. Now we just have Pogge, whose fanfare has been reduced to lukewarm. In saying that, he's never had a decent NHL shot. Until a week from now:
The Leafs intend to call up G Justin Pogge for a few starts after the all-star break. "What we're about here is making sure we take care of the future of the team," said coach Ron Wilson. "We want to make sure Justin Pogge gets his opportunities here."

Maybe they do want to "take care of the future", but I suspect this has more to do with the March 4th trade deadline and a guy named Vesa Toskala.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Whither Tank 4 Tavares?

Big test tonight, if the Sens can manage to beat the habs in front of a sea of Olayolayers, it could be a serious setback in the chase for Atlanta and New York. Can a truly epic ping-pong ball quest really sustain the first three game win streak of the season?

Let's see how Mr. Elliot performs in his coast-to-coast introduction (true, the Thrashers-Sens contest went national, but who other than a few displaced fans tuned in to that one?

Sens 6, Habs 4 (Heatley, Spezza and Alfie do their part to revive a slumping Pizza Index)

Friday, January 16, 2009

How YOU doin?

Lets all combine our efforts. How are all our ex Leafs and Sens doing out there in their new lives?

I'll start.
Easy one.

MATS SUNDIN. 5 games played, 2 points, -4
That +/- is second worst on the team.
You give the guy a break perhaps, he's missed most of the season and needs to get some rust off, but the Canucks are 1-4 since he joined the team. Probably not giving the fans a lot of faith. Hey, it's only $5M for four months work. No worries.

Few and far between.

I'm going to start a 2009 tradition right now.

Leafs win = Post

This works out great for me. I'll only have to do it .87 times per week. And by focusing on each win I get to live in the present. Or is it a vacuum?


If you didn't see the game it went like this: Leafs come out with a zillion times more energy and speed than Carolina and swiftly take the Canes by the throat up 4-0. During second intermission Bob McKenzie tells the panel that he thinks the Canes will come back and tie it up. Canes tie it up within a 10 minute span thanks to a 5-3 PP and some lousy Leaf play. McKenzie buys lottery ticket. Then with the clock ticking down, the Leafs come back to life and Kabby scores the winner and Blake gets an EN for the trick. Win #17 folks.

KEYS: Blake. Obviously. However even better was Tlusty's 3 assists. He played a solid game ensuring he was always between the puck and his opponent. Leafs need this 1st rounder to act like one. Maybe he doesn't want to go back to the Marlies enough to keep it up?

It's Friday folks. F'n aye!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mirtle: senators are done

Ottawa's done like dinner, folks, and I don't know if there is a way Murray can save his job. His last two choices as coach have been disastrous, and some of his moves on the blueline have been head scratchers. Wade Redden, Andrej Meszaros, Mike Commodore and Joe Corvo all moved on after last season, leaving a blueline that's relying on Alexandre Picard, Jason Smith and a few spare parts to fill in.
- James Mirtle
James then goes on to mention how much money the senators have scheduled for next year. It's more than just the $44M. They have a bonus cushion that hits $49M which I assume is ominous. At least, I hope it is. So this year the playoff streak ends for the senators. Last night showed that they have enough talent to beat bad teams so maybe they can work on turning around that 1-6-1 mark against the Leafs but it won't be enough to get them in the playoffs. :D

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Predators at Leafs. Canes at Sens.

You can head over to Canes Country or the Predators Blog to help cheer on the team you really want to win tonight.

If that's too much effort, why not stay right here and actually cheer for the team across the aisle?. You actually WANT the other Ontario team further away from Tavares don't you?

I'll start. GO SENS!

It's only a year??

Since this?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Gerber Era at a Close?

In a move that can only be said to be about 15 months too late Martin Gerber is probably going to be waived. A goalie that lost his starting job to a rookie because of 'the flu' during the Stanley Cup playoffs (after two bad losses) Gerber picked up a Stanley Cup ring as Chief Door Opener.

After that amazing playoff run he signed in ottawa where he managed to again lose his job to an unfancied goaltender. His role during the sens playoff run was upgraded to Executive Water Bottle Filler. Of course, what happened to Ray Emery next is public knowledge.

Once he recaptured the starting position after Emery's collapse he managed to lose it once more to career backup Alex Auld who showed him that goalie are allowed to use their gloves to make saves and do not have to stay on their goalline until the puck is shot.

But he's done way more than Toskala and shown way more promise in pressure situations (ummm opening the door quickly when players are trying to get off the ice?). Sure. Does this make the sens' rookie goalie Brian "the Force" Elliott?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Let's have another look

It won't change their fortunes, but that's not the point right now. With the possibility of waiving "a player or two", and no real expectations of a turn around, a potential number 1 will get his chance to see a fair amount of NHL rubber.

A positive omen that our franchise B-goalie curse has been lifted might be if he becomes the only guy capable of comfortably handling the puck behind his net (this includes our current defensive roster), although Sportsnet already has the rap sheet on him. Steady on, we're now in striking distance of the Isles.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Leafs Winning

Sure, they lost the game. Badly. However I went to sleep last night feeling more than satisfied with yesterday's events.

Lets start with the game result. The Leafs won, in the big scheme of things. We will not make the playoffs. Losses are what we should be cheering for. In fact I would be happy if we only won the remaining games against the Sens for the rest of the year. Tavares should be the goal here. The Thrashers won, so the Leafs gained two points. That's all that should matter.

Kaberle went on the record yesterday clearly stating he would waive his no trade clause. Hate to lose our best defenseman for the past 7 years, but lets face it, this adds options for Burke at deadline. Last year Philly were willing to send Carter for him. Maybe this year will present a similarly intriguing offer?

Toronto are tougher. Last time these teams met the Leafs got banged up. Not the case last night. If we're going to lose the game, at least we won the fights. Mayers shitkicking of Kostopolous was especially satisfying. Grabovski answering the bell and taunting the crowd is the makings of renewed rivalry and injects personality into this club, even if it cost him three games. I would prefer Burke acquires tough guys and role players through the UFA market this summer, but May was fun to watch last night.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

You're feeling pretty good today if you're Brad May.

To be traded for a conditional 6th round draft pick in 2010 says a lot about your value.

Burke's love affair with former players continues.

I haven't heard what "conditions" are on the draft pick, but DiDomenico was a 6th rounder so one wonders why bother trading away anything for a 37 year old grinder? Why now? Puzzling. This team clearly lacks toughness and vet presence, May will help, but couldn't we have gotten him for nothing this summer?

Also in Leaf news, Kulemin has been sent down to the Marlies for more seasoning. We're nearing the 40 game mark so this probably has something to do with it.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Thought For A Sunday Evening

The fact is that in the last calendar year plus four days, since Jan. 1, 2008, the Leafs have the better record. The Senators are 31-44-9, while in the same stretch the Leafs are 37-36-9. That has to be très embarrassing for the Sens, who made it to the Stanley Cup finals just 19 months ago.

Richard Griffin, The Toronto Star
I think that I would be safe (and that sens fans might even agree) in saying that the senators' "slump" isn't a slump anymore but rather an accurate reflection of how terrible the team has actually become. Right now, the sens sit in 26th overall in the league and are looking at drafting in the top five for the first time since Giggles became a gutless wonder. The senators actually have a pretty good record of drafting in the top 5 (and one great pick outside of it) but who might they select this summer and could that player actually fix the team's problems? Or will he be another Alexandre Daigle?

Also, while we are at it, what about Hartsburg? So you fire the coach or do you realize that the problem lies with the players? Who do you move out? What about Bryan Murray? He is after all the genius that built the Anaheim Ducks right? When does Eugene realize that this team is not actually going to turn it around and compete for the Cup as he hallucinated? And, while that may seem like a lot of questions, here is one more: Will senators fans continue to pay for tickets if the senators decide to tear this puppy down?

That's a lot to ponder on a Sunday night but feel free to take all Monday trying to deflect attention back to the Leafs.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Battle Game Day: Double Threat Edition

Quick and dirty thread for those of you with a moment between flipping channels:

Sens @ Leafs - Good and bad news for the Sens. Volchenkov is back and that means Brendan "Timbit" Bell will likely sit. Still no Elliot however, and that means a first shot or blueline backbreaker is in store from Marty G. Sens 3, Leafs 2, Heatley with the winner on a "bended knee" special.

Let's win this one for old time's sake and then on with the tanking.

Russia @ Kanata - May the first round scouting continue. If you're heading to the game, do your best Miss World imitation and turn the Russian flag into the Serbian one.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Annus horribilis

Thank God 2008 is over. Could anything have been worse for the Senators? I think they hold the worst record in the league in 2008 for whatever that's worth but let's not dwell on the past.
If nobody could have forseen that 2008 would be so bad, could we maybe think for a few weeks that 2009 might be way better than what we can forsee now?
Would a spanking of the Leafs tomorrow night be just the way a turnaround starts for this team?