Archive for October, 2007

Ugh!!!

October 28, 2007

2790906358.jpg[From a Senator’s beat writer] 

“Gerber, who played solid throughout, wound up with 25 saves.”

What is it with hockey people??……it’s like they don’t know that the letters L and Y exist.  The Senators poured cement down Gerber’s throat and he played solid.

In any event, Gerber wasn’t really tested very much.  Most of the shots were from the outside as the Devils (I can’t believe I’m saying this) were looking to fire every shot they could find in the hopes that Gerber would be his usual backboardy self .  Of course, there was some poetry in the goal that the Devils did get; a juicy rebound goes into Volchenkov’s skate and right into the net.  Aside from that, I wasn’t cringing nearly as badly with Gerber’s lack of rebound control, as some games.

Alfie played the second period on a line with Foglino and Fisher, but otherwise skated for Pizza.

Something Interesting

October 26, 2007

42367946492.jpg42367946491.jpg4236794649.jpg  So, someone intimated to me that they read my posts and they aren’t very interesting.  It was someone I know and have at least a modicum of respect for (it was me).  Well, it got me thinking….I have a bunch of thoughts about hockey throughout the day and I don’t share most of them here and I really (maybe) should.  Here are some of them that I had today:

If Phil Esposito were playing hockey today, Derek Boogaard would be skating laps around him.  I know it’s a different game now and the players train year round and work on all parts of their games, while Espo’s offseason training was composed of chasing down pickerel with a 12 pack.  But, the difference in the level of skating between the 70s and now is truly astounding.  42367946491.jpg  

If you’re not aware of the John Tavares situation, here it is:

He’s a 17 year old kid playing Major Junior hockey for the Oshawa Generals.  He had 134 points in 67 games last year including 72 goals (more goals than Gretzky ever scored in junior, but not as many as Ray Ferraro).  So far this year, he has 15 goals in 12 games and a total of 28 points.  At this point, he is not eligible to enter next year’s NHL draft because his 18th birthday misses the cut off by 5 days.  He and his agent are petitioning the NHL to be included in the next draft because they feel he cannot develop any further playing Major Junior.  The NHL doesn’t appear to be too keen on the idea and their point is; where do you draw the line?  If there’s a guy with 65 goals and misses the cut off by 7 days, do you make him eligible?…..and so on. 

Today, there is an article in the Toronto Sun calling for John Ferguson Jr.’s head.  It says basically, that he’s ruined the Leafs and they need to replace him before he does any more damage (I would argue that the Leafs were ruined before JFJ took over, but that’s another post). 

In a competing paper, The Globe and Mail, there is an article about how JFJ (he’s no JFK) is going to make a contract offer to Tavares to play professional hockey for the Leafs’ farm team; the Toronto Marlies.  Tavares could play professional hockey and get paid, albeit not an NHL salary for the next 4 years at which time they bring him up to the Leafs and circumvent the draft (and the Collective Bargaining Agreement).  Now, I’m not saying one has anything to do with the other, but….well, yes….I am saying that.  Jr. is clearly feeling the pressure of his continually failing defenseman (the one’s he signed to long term contracts) and trying to save his job by locking up a hometown hero to be. 

I would say this ploy has a zero percent chance of working.  First of all, why would Tavares want any part of this?  Not only will he not get to play NHL hockey next year, but he won’t be able to play NHL hockey the next three years.   Secondly, and more importantly, the NHL has a clause in their by-laws that says they can block any move that attempts to circumvent the CBA.  There’s no way this is happening.  John Ferguson Jr. is even more pathetic a figure than he was a day ago.   It’s astounding to me the level of thinking in Toronto.  Everyone wants to play for the Leafs.  Whenever there is a big free agent to be, that’s all you hear from Leafs’ Nation.  Players wanted to play there when the team had a limitless checkbook.  With the salary cap, it’s just another market to 99% of players.  Get used to it!

Anyway, John Tavares and his agent can petition all they want and they may even be right that he won’t develop any further in juniors, but that’s only if he doesn’t try.  Here’s a thought; spend a season working on your two-way play so you’re even more valuable to an NHL franchise. 

42367946491.jpg  Last night, Vinny Lecavalier got into a fight and was tossed from the game with thirteen minutes left and his team down by one goal.  The call in shows today couldn’t stop talking about how Vinny shouldn’t be fighting; he has to stay on the ice….blah blah blah.  Why is it a travesty when Lecavalier drops the gloves but when Jarome Iginla does, everyone crows about what a great leader he is for his team?  “He’s leading by example…trying to spark his team” blahpiddy bloopiddy boo.

Tonight, Vinny drops the gloves again; this time in the first period.  I’m thinking of dropping him from my fantasy team.  I’m not sure I can afford to have a goon on my team right now. 

42367946492.jpg  Jason Spezza will have a long term contract with the Senators before the season is over.  No, I don’t know anything that isn’t in print; I’m just sayin’…….

Play Time

October 25, 2007

3547309042.jpgThe Senators are off this week and spent a few days at a luxury resort fishing, playing golf and giving wedgies and swirlies to the young guys.  What fun!  They did get down to hockey the last night, playing an intersquad scrimmage.  Of course, there were no coaches there and Brian McGratton potted 5 goals in a 13-11 loss.  I hope the boys don’t lose their penchant for back checking. 

 Goalie Stuff

Emery had good stats in his first start; win, 1 GAA, .969 Sv%.  I suspect it’s going to be the end of November or mid-December before we have any real idea of what the goalie situation is going to be and then it’s very possible that he will simply rotate them based on feel.  It’s possible that he won’t pick a number one until March.  They’ll both get starts, to be sure, but Paddock is going to be tight-lipped about his starter.  The press won’t know until the morning of the game. 

Now, that said, there are rumours that Murray offered a goalie for Dustin Brown and Alex Frolov and we don’t know which one.  The Kings deny it.  There’s also the matter of the back up goalie if the Sens were to move one of them, which right now would be Jeff Glass or Brian Elliott.  Glass is getting most of the starts in Bingo and has good numbers, but I don’t believe for a second that they would go with him as the backup for any length of time, or Elliott either for that matter.  They could sign a veteran like Cujo, but do you want to bring in a guy that old who hasn’t been playing?  I just don’t like the situation at all.

Add to all this the rumour that Forsberg has the Senators on his short list of teams he’d play for.  He’s rumoured to want $5 million and a multi-year deal.  Now I’m not the GM, but if I was, there would be no way I’d give Forsberg a multi-year deal.  That’s a risk the Senators don’t need to take.    However, if they are able to sign Forsberg, they will trade a goalie and take their chances, I would think.

Schubert; anyone else notice that he falls down a lot?

 The Senators are getting healthy; McAmmond is supposed to be back shortly, Vermette will also return after back spasms, Foglino is doing fine after going head first into the boards and the Sens aren’t going to carry more than 21 players because Murray doesn’t like to have players sitting.  This means someone is likely on their way to Bingo and that someone is likely Foglino as everyone else has to clear waivers, but we’ll find out soon enough and it won’t have fantasy ramifications anyway. 

Lots of Little Things

October 9, 2007

3999201791.jpg

If you don’t know that the Pizza line is playing together by now, you’re not paying much attention to hockey.  Consequently, all three players are in the top 5 in scoring right now.  Granted, they’ve played one more game than most teams.  Of the other players, Antoine Vermette has looked the best.  It really looks like he has decided that this is the year he takes it to another level.  He’s really flying out there and has been fairly responsible defensively with his 5 on 5 play.  Nick Foglino has been mostly invisible, which is not uncommon for a rookie early in his first season.   Joe Corvo has been playing on the number 1 power play unit, which helps his value of course.  But, he’s also getting only 15 minutes per game which doesn’t help.

Does it seem that Alfredsson is only getting better with age?  I have to believe that he recognizes that time is running short for him to get a Cup and this has to be a great motivator for him.  He’ll be 35 at mid-season.  He only has one more year on his contract with the Senators and the way salaries are going these days, it’s not going to be any easier to hold a team together in the future.  In a couple of years, it will be very interesting to see what the Senators are willing to offer a 36 year old Alfredsson to stay. 

 Gerber Stealing the Show (or a job)?

Much of the talk out of Ottawa is whether Gerber is making a case for the number 1 goalie job or just increasing his trade value….or Emery’s trade value for that matter; not that any of this is up to him.  First of all, he’s been very solid;  good for him and the Sens.  If you’ve been reading my stuff over the years, you know I was high on Gerber when he arrived in Ottawa based on his play in Carolina and Anaheim.   What I seemed not to notice in those previous stints (and shame on me) was that his rebound control is not so snazzy.  Now, before people get all excited about the Senators being able to trade for a top 6 forward using one of the ‘tenders as bait, you need to consider the following:

1.  Most GMs will take 10 to 20 games to evaluate their teams before pushing the trade buttons, so there’s no way that anything is imminent.

2.  We may not have an accurate read on Emery’s recovery for some time.  Not to mention that goalies who miss camp rarely have stellar seasons.

3.  The Senators are not likely to trade either goalie until there is a credible backup in place.  Brian Elliott may end up being such a backup, but no one can say that just yet. 

I would say that it is highly unlikely that the Senators would trade a goalie before the trade deadline and if Elliott isn’t chewing up and spitting out the AHL by that time, it’s not likely at all for this season. 

Other Stuff

I am very near annointing Ted Nolan as the best hockey coach on the planet.  The Islanders weren’t good enough to make the playoffs last year and they’re not good enough to be 3 and 0 right now. 

It’s also interesting that 3 teams being hailed as Cup contenders in the west have all started slowly; Anaheim, San Jose and Calgary.

I’ve heard a many people predicting the Penguins as the favorite from the East.  Bah!  Their defensemen aren’t defensive enough and Fleury isn’t good enough to consistently bail them out when they trip over each other.  And don’t tell me that Darryl Sydor makes them that much stronger.  He’s 35 and had already lost a step 2 years ago.  The Penguins will score goals; no question about it.  That won’t be enough this year.

Bounce back player of the year:  If you consider his Cup run to be the breakout, then last year was the let down season for Cam Ward.  This year he will really come into his own.  Honorable mentioned go to teammate Eric Staal and Columbus forward Rick Nash. 

Breakout player of the year:  I’ve heard some people mention Paul Stastny and Michael Cammaleri.  Uhhh….I would say they broke out last year.  This goes to Alexander Radulov who will get much more and better time this year without Kariya, Forsberg, Hartnell, Upshall and Sullivan (for the time he spends on the injury shelf). 

If you’re reading this, please drop me a line; alwillig@yahoo.com

I’m just wondering if anyone has found this site.

Alfie

October 4, 2007

1920504390.jpgDaniel Alfredsson practiced with the top line today….take that for what you think it’s worth, but even if he’s not going to play their regulary, it’s good to get some practice time in with Spezza and Heatley for the times when he does.    Nick Foglino made the team and is likely to be a third liner for now, but keep him on your watch list.    Zubov was sent to Bingo along with Brian Lee.  Brian Elliott remains with the big club because Emery doesn’t appear to be ready to go.  Gerber will be the starter for the foreseeable future.  The point on the number one power play opposite Redden is still pretty much up for grab with Corvo, Schubert and Alfie in the running.

Brian Burke: Defender of the Old Guard

October 4, 2007

2179803943.jpg[Brian Burke on Kevin Lowe] 

“If I had run my team into the sewer like that I wouldn’t throw a grenade at the other 29 teams and my own indirectly,” said Burke. “So I have no intention of speaking to him anytime soon.”

I love Brian Burke…..and I very much dislike Brian Burke.  I guess you’d call it a Love/Strong Dislike thing.  He’s a very smart hockey man, he’s fun to listen to and he’s a great quote.  What I don’t like about Burkey is his total and complete inability to let go of the Old Guard notions he harbours.   It started with his defense of Big Bad Bert and continues today with his firing shots at Kevin Lowe for making an offer sheet to one of his restricted players; a practice that was nearly unthinkable before the salary cap came to town. 

In the pre-cap days (hereinafter referred to as PCD), the offer sheet was seen as the Spectre of salary inflation and it certainly would have been had it been used much.  Today, there is nothing inflationary about the offer sheet.  If Edmonton wants to pay Dustin Penner $4 million for 6 years, or whatever, go nuts.  If he doesn’t perform up to that level, it hurts only the Edmonton Oilers and they will deserve it.  If he earns it, good for him and the team.  If he doesn’t the oilers will have wasted valuable cap space on a not so valuable player.