Monday, November 29, 2010

Gerber baby!

Sens face their old teammate tonight as Mr Gerber gets the start for the Oilers.

Elliot gets the start again for the Sens after his shutout of the Leafs. Obviously if Leclaire had of started on Saturday we'd be talking about him playing after shutting out the Leafs. Heck, if Karlsson was playing in net on Saturday I guess he'd get a 2nd start to follow up on his Leaf shutout.

How bad are the Oil this year?

Well - their GF/G is actually a bit higher than Ottawa (26th in the league btw) but their GA/G is a league high atrocious 4.3 on the road. (Probably the worst PK in the league by a big margin (67%) is a big part of that.

Obviously, it's a game where the Sens need to bank 2 pts and move back to .500 again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Game day post

What? The game was already played? It's Sunday already!?

Who won then? I'm assuming the Leafs didn't get shut out again, did they?

I was going to put up a post about my keys to victory for the Sens - thinking the Kovalev, Fisher, Michalek line would be the group to watch. Wonder how that turned out....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pat Burns. 1952-2010

Pat Burns, the first coach of the bad-guys in the Battle of Ontario passed away today following a long battle with cancer.

RIP Pat.  Your name should've been engraved on a plaque in the Hall before being engraved on your headstone.

Youngest team in NHL win two straight...

The addition of Kadri and Aulie to the Leafs line-up has not only aided in the Leafs winning two of three since they arrived, but their tender young ages make Toronto the saplings of the league.

At least we're standing out for something right?

Kadri now has 3 points in 3 games (all assists), and Aulie might just earn himself a spot on the club too, if he keeps using that enormous reach and 6'5" frame like he has been. Add Gustavsson as the first star of last night's game with 34 saves, and the beating of a very tender and frankly bad New Jersey team was completed. The Devils did come on strong at times, but the Leafs executed a perfect road game at home, utilizing the dump and chase anytime an easy play wasn't available.

Back to Kadri, I'm glad to see that the media circus around him has actually calmed down now that he is up and contributing. He made a few of his old giveaways last night which Wilson pointed out after the game and will surely be addressed, Kadri seeming to forget for a period what he learned on the Marlies. All in all, I like that he's getting some confidence and looking to have some real chemistry with Kessel.

Happy Camper out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Senators @ Carolina

At the moment I post this, the Ottawa Senators are en-route to the airport to catch their rescheduled flight to Carolina to face the Hurricanes. The NHL requires teams to be in the host city the night before a game but, as anyone whom has watched a Canadian sports channel in the last few days knows, the Senators were here to attend a public memorial at Scotiabank Place in memory the daughter of former Toronto Maple Leaf 1st round draft pick, former Ottawa Senators player and current assistant coach Luke Richardson.

Daron Richardson committed suicide several days ago. Normally this detail is not reported but the family insisted it be made public so that the negative stigma of mental health can be addressed. One reason this hits the Ottawa Senators so hard is that the world-class Royal Ottawa Hospital has part-time unicorn Daniel Alfredsson as one of its key spokespersons and so the team is well aware of the issues and difficulties that the Richardsons are facing.

The game tonight won't matter to the Ottawa Senators players, and we can expect to see segments of time where they look like their heads are elsewhere. They will be. But we can't be surprised if they light it up and play their hearts out for Luke.

5-2 Senators. Fish (2), Alfie (2), Philips hitting the net.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You might make fun of me for my guarantee tonight...

But me saying flat out that the Leafs WILL defeat Nashville tonight will never be as bad as when Captain of Ottawa Village guaranteed a Stanley Cup. I mean shit, look at the photos people went out of their way to create for the guy?

My gut feeling that the Leafs will reign victorious tonight is strong, like the force. That's why I'm even going to break my own proline rule and bet on the game involving the Leafs on my ticket for tonight.

I will not guarantee the score, but let's throw down a 5-1 ass woopin'.

Go Leafs. And go Unicorns!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Coaching decisions

As anyone with a bookmark to a sports website knows, the New York Islanders today fired head coach Scott Gordon owing, in part, to a 10 game losing streak.    

All this talk about Colby Armstrong & Dion Phaneuf's injuries being the cause of the decline of the Toronto Maple Leafs (and hence absolving Wilson of culpability) begs a comparision.

On Long Island, top defenseman Mark Streit has been out for essentially the entire season and Kyle Okoposo is still recovering from shoulder surgery; neither have played a game this season.  Effectively, two of the top players on the team are unable to contribute.  

The Islanders do have a prior 1st overall top-6 forward in John Tavares, but otherwise lack a "40 goal scorer" (hold it in, folks) and are forced to platoon an oft injured, has-been goaltender and a 41 year old overager journeyman.   There is no washout former 'best goaltender not playing in the NHL' , nor a Conn Smyth/Stanley Cup winning veteran netminder to rely upon.

The Islanders saw the second worst decline in the league after a surprising start; second only to Toronto.   So the Islanders fired Gordon.  

What else did the Scott Gordon lack?   A buddy-buddy relationship with the General Manager.  Or, if that's not true and Snow & Gordon really are BFFs, then Gordon lacked a GM with an ego.

Two questions:   

Why is Ron Wilson still coaching the Leafs if his team - with far more 'star power' in goal and at the back end - has suffered a more severe decline?

If the addition of Kadri and Aulie do make a difference and the team wins more than a few games over the next 5 to 10, is that demonstrative of coaching or the advantageous result of desperation moves by Burke?

Armstrong treads lightly...

According to Paul Hendrick, Armstrong took a light skate this morning before the rest of the team came on to test his repaired finger and still sore foot.

He's obviously still a wee while away, but getting closer.

If anybody has been frequenting PPP over the last few weeks you will have read some of the healthy back and forth between Leaf fans who think the team misses him or don't miss him, usually sparked by myself who believes he is sorely missed.

The Leafs haven't won a game without Armstrong this season. While there is a lot missing right now besides Colby, it's still revealing if you ask me. I'm counting the days.

Also, since nobody has talked about it here, I thought Kadri played great on Saturday. He was good defensively, he set up a few point blank chances for his linemates that unfortunately weren't converted into goals, and yes, he made a few blatant rookie mistakes. So far, I can say it doesn't look like a mistake to have him up. Lots of high-profile rookies don't immediately score in the NHL, so I say give him a week or two to get into the team concept. It's clear he will eventually contribute.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The kid gets another shot.

Muppet may still have a chance to win that rookie of the year bet... :)

TSN reporting that Kadri and Aulie will be in the lineup against the Canucks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

GDT: Vancouver @ Ottawa

The best thing about no-game days for Leaf fans?  They don't have to watch their team lose.

On the brighter side of the BoO, Ottawa looks to protect its 5 game win streak against the West's 3rd best team.  

There will be Swedish forwards on each team, but Vancouver has determined the only way to match Alfie's power is to clone their top forward and put two of him on the ice at once.

The Greatest Captain Who Ever Captained an Ontario NHL Team had some things to say about that. This little bit of conversation should garner some interest from the blue & whites:

REPORTER: "If we were to ask other Swedes, do you believe they would say you’re the best?"

ALFIE: “Maybe Sundin would.”

Marlies starting to gain momentum

My office is next to the Toronto Island Airport and a few minutes before 11 we watched two relic fighter planes take off in formation heading somewhere to commemorate. Nice vantage point from my 6th floor office and a beautiful day added to an emotionally stirring moment.

After that cool moment, and our moment of silence, I turned back to my computer to see how the Marlies are doing on their epic 19 day road-trip. They've taken a possible 8 of their last available 10 points, and seems like things are starting to click as they rebound from a shitty start.

Rynnas got his first win of the season this week, and both Marlie goalies have very nice statistics. Rynnas a sparkling 2.11 GAA and 9.27. Reimer's numbers are almost as good.

Kadri set up D'Amigo for the game winner earlier in the week as the Leafs prized rookie now has 13 pts in 13 games. Since Zigamonis came back to the team, his line which includes Mueller and Crabb have combined for 12 points in 5 games.

Nice to see one MLSE team doing well lately.

Here is video of 3 fights from the Marlies vs Wolfpack. You can see Lashoff get beat up twice and Aulie absolutely mangle some guy half his size. I like the looks of this Aulie kid.

Let's think about *real* battles today.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Let's look at the last 10 games in the current season for a few teams.

At the top end of the league, we see Los Angeles with a record of 8-2-0 and a win streak of 4 games.
Second in line would be St. Louis with a record of 7-1-2 and a win streak of 7 games.

Slotting in right behind are three teams at 7-2-1 (PHI, BOS, VAN).

Next up are several teams at 7-3-0. These teams include: WAS, DET, COL and the present BoO leader: Ottawa, presently riding a 4 game win streak (2nd in this group only to Washington at 5).

Let's skip a few teams and head over to Long Island where the Islanders have registered 3 wins, 7 losses in the last 10 games. Unfortunately for them, the 7 games are consecutive, and the most recent.

However, isolating the last 10 games, one team holds fort in mom's basement.

At 1-6-3 over the last 10, fair Toronto - home of Lake Shore and it's high quality residents - has the worst 10 game record. Another shutout tonight, 4GA and a 0.840 SV% for Giggy, things are not looking good in Leaf land.  

Who is the consensus 1st pick in next year's draft? I'm sure Boston knows.

Game Day Thread: Distance makes the heart grow darker....

I don't like looking at the standings and seeing Ottawa ahead of Toronto. So what if the Leafs have a game in hand, it's still an ugly way to usher in the morning. I'd like to see this change and the next two days provide the Leafs with that opportunity.

First up:

TONIGHT: Toronto @ Tampa + Atlanta @ Ottawa.

Frankly, I would rather play the Thrashers than the Lightning. Which brings up an interesting debate - who has had the tougher schedule so far this season? I think the Leafs have had it slightly tougher but not by much. Ottawa have a hell of a "next 5" after tonight that I don't envy, but Toronto's isn't much easier as both teams host the Canucks. Who wants to play the Canucks right now?

Man, I got nothing to say today. Real busy at work and at home.
So here's a picture of Minka...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Leafer hat tip to THM's theory

A little while ago, some debate broke out about the role of a player's linemates in making said player's trip to the Hall more palpable.  

Simply put, I argued that a normalized (i.e., "same conditions") comparison of the numbers put up by Daniel Alfredsson (Praise Alfie!) and Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille would show that the latter's numbers were elevated by the luxury of playing with the league's record smashing players.  

This was met with near ridicule.  The idea that a great player wasn't seeing high numbers owing - in large part - to his teammates productivity was considered blasphemy.   It appeared implied that Robitaille's career totals (or even the direct 10-year comparison under the same rules, against the same opponents, etc.) were independent of the pleasure of receiving passes from (or directing passes to) Gretz, Brett, Paul Coffee, etc., etc.   

What then, should we make of this piece over at PPP.

I'll excise the most notable portion:

"For his centres, he has been blessed with Matt Stajan, Mikhail Grabovski, Tyler Bozak, and John Mitchell. Holding out hope for Bozak, but this is not an impressive group of centres. No Luc Robitaille on the left either." [Emphasis added.]

A bit of silence to let that sink in.....

The crux of the article is that Kessel - a "37 goals in 83 games" man (wasn't he supposed to be a guaranteed 40 goal guy?) is suffering in production due to his linemates.  

Hm.   I guess my theory wasn't so bad afterall.

Is the loss of Colby Armstrong key to the Leafs tailspin?

When teams go on losing streaks it's typical of fans and media to start honing in on specifics. It's easy to forget that this is a "team" game. It's easy to put your best players on the hot seat, or, as we saw yesterday from Toronto media, to start questioning the coach.

That's the way it goes. When the losses start piling up the fingers start pointing, and while I too am pointing at the Leafs first line wondering where the scoring is, I happen to think that for a hockey club that needs maximum energy and effort just to compete most nights, what hurts most right now is that we're missing a key guy who does both those things:


I had a good heated battle with Leaf fans over at PPP a few weeks back about Armstrong, my high opinion of him opposed with expanded stats and the such. I said it then and I'll say it now: this guy is worth every penny of his $3M contract because he brings intangibles to the table every night that don't show up in the stats. His hustle and heart, his defensive energy, his physicality and his never-say-die attitude rubbed off on this hockey club. He is a soldier, through and through.

You can see a difference since he's been gone.

Then add Phaneuf to the IR, another guy who brings it every night, and to me it's no coincidence that the Leafs are hustling for about 40% of games these days.

Hurry back Colby.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Saturday GDT. BUF @ TOR; OTT @ MTL

Let's play the scenario game:

If tonight Washington beats Boston and Buffalo finally wins against Montreal, the stage will be set for a showdown tomorrow night in Montreal for first place in the Northeast Division and 3rd in the standings.  

Ottawa have vastly improved but let's face it - a win over Montreal will be tough.  Primarily a win by Buffalo over Montreal, but Ottawa isn't a top tier team yet.  But things are rolling, we've seen solid goaltending, Kovalev isn't sleeping as much on a line with Spezza, the broadcaster-consensus Hall of Famer Alfie is a Habs killer, and Montreal is on a downer two game loss streak.  

It's looking promising.

Friday Flip

So here's how things look this morning at the bottom end of the standings.    Last year's 2 & 3 spot teams remain under the heap whilst the 1 and 2 positions from a short while ago have plumetted like a former Leaf Captain's credibility in 08/09.  Meanwhile, only one team from the bottom 6 has seen improvement rising like a phoenix (no... it's not the Coyotes), beating teams it should  beat, and recovers fairly substantively from the sketchiest start since 06/07.

Beastly Spezza with a role in every goal scored by Ottawa; could he perhaps be just geting warmed up?

Also, for those who watched the nationally televised game on TSN, you may recall "Monster" McGuire stating [paraphrased]:   'I don't have a vote for the Hall of Fame, but if I did, I would be casting my vote for [Alfie]'.    Remember:  national broadcast - not a regionally pandering feed.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

We're better than you Ottawa.

I figure I have to do this before the Sens and Isles play tonight!

Also, what did you think of Crosby's scrap last night? Are you going to link us to his fight and tell us Sid is a scrapper so it was perfectly fine for Neil to drop the gloves and beat on him while the refs were holding him in some future game? Let me know, I'll try and get you a decent quality video.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Di(G)on(e) Paneuf

Andy has already unwisely watched the Clint Malarchuk footage which was recalled owing to neither that, nor Dion's skate-induced laceration appeared possible based on leg position during contact.  

So now Dion is out 4 to 6 weeks with a deep laceration and 'nicked' MCL.

This time, the information came from TSN and not from Mata Hari Elisha Cuthbert whom appears to have raised the ire of MLSE and had her twitter knocked down.     Can we assume she is now being educated by The Church of Scientology the Teacher's Pension Group on the terms "lower & upper body injury"?


Well, the title sums up the feelings of most Senators fans having watched the Senators fend off nearly 6 minutes in late 3rd period penalties.

The folks over at PPP actually think Toronto out-played Ottawa most of the night.  This isn't difficult whence one ignores the power-plays, 5 on 3s and 6 on 4s, but what is interesting is that the Leafs appeared to improve shortly after Phaneuf was injured while attempting to board Peter Regin in the second.  

Interestingly, this came just after the first intermission impromptu press conference by Burke to complain about fans booing Phaneuf.    Wait... haven't we been through this before?    Maybe it's an act by Phaneuf to get some sympathy.    Or maybe the booing was by upper-bowl fans upset that they couldn't occupy the almost empty lower bowl.  Even the old guy with the bleached goatee was missing from behind Ron Wilson.   

All in all, it was a decent result by the Senators (3-1-0 over the last 4) over the Leafs (1-3-0).  No gloating, there's work to be done.

Addendum:   MLSE is now employing Elisha Cuthbert to deliver injury updates via twitter.  Bookmark it and barf every time you think of the knuckle-dragger calling her 'baby'.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Chris Neil begins political campaign to save his own life.

Today Chris Neil's response to McGratton went like this:

"I'm sure he's trying to get into the lineup," Neil told reporters following practice. "I have nothing bad to say about the guy."

It's what I would say too, if I wanted to throw water on the bush fire it will be if Boston put McGratton into the line-up when the two teams face each other in less than two weeks time, in Boston, Saturday night, on Hockey Night in Canada.

Hmm. Maybe you should have thought about all this before you outright attacked and instigated a fight with a non-fighter, aye Chris?

Payback is a... well, you know.


Brian Burke says here that Leaf fans are basically what us Senators fans have been saying they are for years. *

Great timing Brian, we have a BoO game tonight and we needed some fodder!

*Burke calls Leaf fans "Habs fans" "disgraceful".

GAME DAY THREAD: Don't you hate it when they're right?

Sens @ Leafs: 7pm
Battle of Ontario Game Two!

Prior to the season the so-called hockey experts agreed on two things that BoO fans should expect:

1. Toronto would have a tough time scoring.
2. Ottawa's biggest flaw would be in goal.

Pretty tough to argue with point #1 when the Leafs are tied for dead last in the NHL with 23 goals scored. Pretty tough to argue with point #2 when Elliott and Leclaire both have GAA over 3.20 and a combined .898 save percentage.

Add that Ottawa haven't been scoring much either and it should come as no surprise that the Leafs are 2 points up on Ottawa in the standings with a game in hand. But lets be honest here... both teams are struggling and would it shock the hockey world if one team won instead of the other?

Rotoworld is saying that Giguere and Elliot will get the start. I'm not so sure about this... it would make more sense to play Gustavsson against Ottawa and save Giguere, (who has the 10th best GAA in the league) for Washington tomorrow night. I'll keep an eye on this.

I spoke with my father this morning (who is a Sens fan as some of you know) and he thinks the Leafs are gonna win this one. His faith is at an all-time low.

Can't say I blame him. Been there before.

Monday, November 01, 2010


McGratton says here that Neil is basically what us Leaf fans have been saying he is for years.

Great timing Brian, we have a BoO game tomorrow and we needed some fodder!

Rest day thread

Enough with the hatred that clouds objectivity and negates substantive changes in game foundations and pre-and post-95 goal & total point trending.

On to darker topics such as:

1) The unrivaled leader whom has partaken in over half of team total goals might be injured.

2)  The questionable leader whom has presented opponents several "gifties" is being outed.

Tomorrow's BoO game is likely to be calamatous anyway.  Could this be inflated by the absence of 11 or the presence of 3?   We might miss our Captain, Leafers; you might want to miss yours.