It’s Tax Time!

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 Let’s see….do my taxes today or watch the Senators?  Which is likely to cause me the least pain??  Which Nation’s Capitol is going to take me for a ride today???  Indulging my masochistic side, I choose the Senators….uhhhh….the one’s from Ottawa.   The hockey Senators have been taxing my very will to live as of late.  I want my life back.  Here’s your chance boys.  Make me a whole man again.  It’s time for a refund on the last 2 months!!

 Right off the bat, players are coming off the ice and you see Murray talking to them; presumably giving them instruction.  There’s a huge difference for you when comparing the coaches; Murray sees something he doesn’t like and he moves to correct it.  Paddock would stand there with a sour look as though he required a high colonic.

There’s plenty of action, energy and emotion in this one to start.  What’s this?  Vermette with his gloves off???  He even wears them in the shower.  Vermette has been “guilty” of punishing Gonchar against the boards a couple times and had to step up with a hang on for dear life scrap with Talbot.  That’s the very definition of “paying the price”, people.  Play hard and deal with the fallout.  Later, there’s the making of a line brawl when Malkin checks Phillips from behind.  All thoughts of a line brawl are safely tucked away when you see love hugs between Gonchar and Spezza; presumably they’ve put the ire of the Summit Series behind them and have taken to improving international relations.

 Hey Marty Lapointe….penalty minutes aren’t all bad, but yours today are sticking a red hot, firey log up the collective ass of Senators’ Nation.  At one point, they show a stewing Marty Lapointe on the bench after his penalties cost his team two goals.  Murray again shows his worth by giving Lapointe a chance to redeem himself on the power play and he returns the favour with a power play goal.

So, what do the Senators need to do to get out of the funk they’ve been in.  Here are some easy to follow, step-by-step instructions:

 Step 1.  Show a modicum of effort.  We saw glimpses of that in the Boston fiasco; much better in the loss to Philly and mostly sustained in the Penguins game.  Mission accomplished (for now).

Step 2.  Score a freakin’ goal or six (perhaps sausage/mushroom/green olives are touch much to ask for, at this point).  The Senators pot 5 after getting 1 in the last 3 games combined, thanks in large part to Sergei Gonchar, who finally blew a hemorrhoid after being abused by the Senator forecheck.  He took a 4 minute cross-checking penalty and the Sens cashed on each end including the winner.  Are people starting to feel a positive correlation between effort and results??  There were still too many passes to no one in this game however, the crispness of the offensive play was still 1200% better (I’m aware that’s not possible) in this one than against the Leafs. 

Step 3.  Cut down on defensive lapses.  Still a lot of OY!, in the positional play of the Senators defense.  At one point in the third period, two Senators skated away from a man all alone in front of the net to go chase the puck carrier at the faceoff dot.  That one didn’t cost them, but only because the Pen in front tipped it into Gerber’s chest.  This is going to be the area where the improvement will be the most beneficial, not to mention the most important, which leads us to:

 The Large Mammalian Sea Cow Square Dancer (credit to The Universal Cynic, http://theuniversalcynic.blogspot.com/) I want Gerber to take the job between the posts, but it’s never going to happen for us if he doesn’t start controlling pucks better.  Defensive effort and smarts from the boys in front may be enough to get us through the East, but it’s probably not enough to get us to hockey heaven.  It only happens 3 or 4 times/year that one bad play by a goalie leads to a series loss and leaving juicy rebounds are team killers in the playoffs.  This is the main reason Ray Emery has been given a leash roughly the Great Wall of China long. 

This game is a start.  It is not an answer.  I would argue that while very important, this game pales in comparison to the next one.  I’m not going to say the Senators have to win on Monday in Anaheim against the Ducks, but they certainly have to bring the same effort, physical play and offense they showed in this one.  This is another statement game and that’s one thing you can credit this team with over the last two months; showing up in these contests.  If this team rests on the laurels of a one game winning streak, you can probably count them out for this season. 

But for now, I’m just going to relax and enjoy the next six hours of Hockey Night in Al’s Basement.  I’ll reserve the next two days for worrying about the next one and probably fill out the 1040. 

Some Non-Sens Related Minutia 

Michel Therrien is an awful coach (in my opinion) but a puck came into the Pens bench, nearly taking off Therrien’s head in the process, and he made sure a young Sens fan behind his bench ended up with it.  Points where they are due; he may be a bad coach, but I guess he’s a decent human being; a good man, if you will.

CBC showed a snippet of an interview with Carey Price after Christobal Huet was traded to Washington.  Price was visibly shaken by the event.  He’s either lost his best friend or isn’t ready for the challenge.   In my typical fence-sitting manner, I make no claim as to which may be true.

From the archives of the laughable: Pascal Dupuis (seeing him in the game today reminded me of this) was the 2nd leading scorer for the Minnesota Wild in 2002/2003 during their improbable playoff run season when they dispatched the far more talented Avs and Nucks, but were out-bored by Anaheim in the conference final. Dupuis was 17 points behind the 65 that Gaborik put up in that regular season.  Dupuis and Gaborik were both coming out of their rookie contracts after that season.  They both held out for unreasonable money the next off-season.  They were both represented by the same agent (Allen Someone-or-Another). 

I only bring up the Gaborik/Dupuis/Agent connection (it’s not my main point) because I’m of the opinion that in many cases an agent costs a player, in terms of dollars, more than he really helps them.  How often do you really think an agent more than pays for themselves from a players standpoint when you net out the 10-15% they get in fees?  Here’s an example all Sens fans can relate to:  The Senators were offering Hossa a 3 year contract for $5 million/season.  He could have gotten that without using an agent.  He ended up getting $6 million for 3 years, which cost him about $2.5 million in agent fees.  For his additional $500,000, he ended up being traded to the Thrashers instead of playing for a perennial playoff team.  I can’t say for sure that Hossa’s insistence on $6 million was all his agent’s idea.  Who knows for sure if he is over-valuing himself or if it’s Rich Winter’s cash grab?  Winter’s history though, suggests that he’s mostly responsible.

I’m not saying that agents serve no purpose.  They can provide some value in saving their clients time, evaluating market value and providing some shield for the player’s image (not much, I’d argue).  For some players, this may all be worth it, but not when it’s costs the clients pay because they’ve held out or they’ve cost their client a place in a desirable lineup  or market because their demands turned them into trade fodder.  As far as determining your market value, I would suggest it’s probably as easy as this:  Have dinner with 4 or 5 teammates you trust and talk about it.  I think you’d probably hit the mark 99% of the time.  I would find it personally satisfying if more players took a page out of Ovechkin’s book and used their mother as agent.  The fees would be nice payback for all the 4:00am rides to the rink when they were eight years old. 

Back to Dupuis (after a major tangent); he was asking for $3 million/season for 3 years.  He had one moderately productive season of 48 points.  In that season, he was playing along side Marian Gaborik for much of the year due to the talent deficit on the Wild Squad.  He held out for better than a month to try to get his $9 million.  The Wild held firm and he ended up signing for just over $1 million/season.  His best season since has been 26 points.  (that’s the laughable part, for those of you lost in all of this) He’s now on his 4th team in 4 years.  By the way, he’s being paid $880,000 this year, which is clearly closer to his value than $3 million. 

The lesson, which some teams seem to ignore far, far too often, is beware of marginal players having better than average years when their contract is up.  Hello, Boston Bruins….remember Marty Lapointe?  And, I’m looking squarely at you, Dallas Stars.  Remember Mike Ribeiro’s name in the future.  I’ll bet you a box of donuts he’s not a point/game player throughout his upcoming contract. 

I’m not claiming this is some sort of profound analysis or something most people haven’t thought of.  I guess I’m just taking my yearly shot at Mike Ribeiro because….well…..he’s Mike Ribeiro.  Your first signing is a stinker, Mr. Hull.  I hope for your sake, you improve substantially from here.

To close out this rash of ramble…..Ryan Malone referred to today’s game as a dog fight.  You’d think he was the one traded to Atlanta.  [give it a minute…..]

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2 Responses to “It’s Tax Time!”

  1. It’s Not Dire Until You Lose a HOME Game!! « Hockeyschlock Says:

    […] ends without a marker, but this is easily the best I’ve seen the Senators play since the last time we beat the Penguins.  The Sens are very quick to the puck and taking away time and space from the Pens at the blue […]

  2. I Think I’ve Seen These Guys Somewheres Before « Hockeyschlock Says:

    […] The Senators have seen a LOT of the Penguins over the past two years.   This is the third of four meetings this season and we’ve have a couple of playoff matchups each of the last two years as well.  Familiarity breeds contempt in the NHL so I’m looking forward to this one.  The last game I thought the Senators really gave a full effort was against the Penguins last March.  […]

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