Archive for the ‘Senators’ Category

Back From The Dead

November 30, 2009

Am I referring to the Senators or this humble writer?  It’s been so long since I’ve written here that I had to guess at my password.  Welcome back, dear reader.

My Take on the Heatley Saga
Prepare for a path of thorns, but, let’s begin with a bit of fluff.  Dany Heatley is a fan of the Dave Matthews Band.  How do I know this?  Because I was standing right in front of him at Alpine Valley (Wisconsin).  I was in row 7.  Yes, I had better seats than Dany Heatley.  Of course, he probably paid for about 30 seats I would think, just given the number of people in Badger red behind me.

So, did I take the opportunity to let him know how pissed I was about him betraying my favorite team?  Did I seize the moment and spill my beer upon his noggin?  Did punch him in the face?  Nope, I partied with him.  I turned around and said “Dany Heatley?”  He said “yep”, and reached out his hand to shake mine.  At that point, all the aforementioned thoughts ran through my head.  In the end, I decided that he was just a guy enjoying one of his favorite bands and left him to his own devices.  By the end of the show, however, we were fist bumping and sharing a beer.  Do I wish I had handled the situation differently?  Nope!

In any event, I suspect there’s something of his story out there in the weeds, of which we will never know.  By the way, Heater has a smokin’ girlfriend.

Trading Salary
Last night on the Hotstove segment of Hockey Night in Canada, the panel (which is a dyfunctional group, to say the least) talked about Brian Burke’s obsession to re-open the collective bargaining agreement in order to allow teams to trade salary cap space along with players.  Amid all the screeching and talking over each other, not one of the panelists brought up either of the two key points in this argument, as far as I’m concerned:

1.  Why is it so damn important to people that teams be able to trade?

B.  If teams are so damn intent on being able to trade, the GMs are in full control of this simply by leaving enough space under the cap.

I truly don’t care if teams are able to trade or not.  One would hope that a GM makes decisions about their roster as best they can given their circumstances.  If a GM spends up to the cap in the offseason, they have to accept that they may not be able to make a trade to improve their club later on.  If a GM decides to pass on a high priced free agent in order to save space to make a move later, that is his choice.  The salary cap, to some extent, was brought in to protect the GMs from themselves and it works in that regard.  I see no reason to remove that protection by circumventing the cap and allowing salary swaps in trades.

It’s infuriating to me that in the Hotstove segment, not one of the commentators made either of these arguments.  And why?  Because media types love to talk about trades.

The Question of the Day
Are the Senators for real?  As I write this, the Senators are 1 point behind the first place Bruins in the division and have 2 games in hand v. the Bs.   They’ve shown some moxie in coming from behind in games.  They’re getting scoring from more than one line.  Their most talented player (arguably) has yet to find his stride.

Here’s where I stand:  I honestly don’t believe this is a team that can make any serious noise in the playoffs.  The goaltending is not good enough.  The defense isn’t good enough.  They have Alexei Kovalev on the 2nd line.  Having said all that, I have NEVER enjoyed watching the Senators more than I do right now.  This forechecking game they’ve instituted is manna from heaven and very easy on the eyes.  And since I’m mixing metaphors, it smells of sweet cherry blossoms.

What I Like Best About the 4th Line
It’s not the 3rd line…’nuff said.

Someone ‘Splain to Me Why Colby Gets Five for Fighting
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIV1O-Nc_os

Misery Loves Misery

January 11, 2009

It looks as though some of my friends at the Ottawa Bloggers Collective finally found the point at which I arrived on December 17th.  Welcome to the club.  Now go grab your knives and start slicing at your fingers. 

Now, to catch you up on what I’ve been up to, since I know that’s why you all come here.  This has landed me a 5 day stay in the hospital.  Yes, the Senators weren’t happy enough just crushing my mind, hope, dignity and hope (did I say that already? sorry), they’ve also crushed my pancreas

In my absence, the Senators lost 4 games.  So, let’s bring Brian Elliott up to the bigs and throw him into the fire for the Rangers game.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the move and it is likely to lead to Martin Gerber being waived so that will get one albatross from around our necks.  But, I just hope that whatever results they get from the “boy” (I think he’s 23 now) are tempered in the eyes of the overlords, by the sorry state this club is in. 

The Elliott Report
The first goal wasn’t his fault as it came on a scramble in front of the net and the Senator’s defensemen didn’t clear anyone out.   I didn’t love the second goal as it came from a bad angle, but it was from a mere 12 feet and perfectly placed in the top corner on a bang bang play.  All in all, I would call this an unqualified success for Elliott.  Sure, he didn’t win, but I don’t expect the Senators to win any more.  A 2-0 loss is the moral victory; we’ll give the boys a silver star for not losing 4-0 (that’s about all the Rangers can muster, I would say)  Elliott didn’t give up any stinkers, a GAA of 2.00 is pretty good as is a Sv% of .920 and he made some damn nice saves.   There was nothing in this game to deflate the poor boy’s spirit.  Ding ding; an angel gots its wings.

The rest of the guys played like they’ve been playing.  Wade Redden coughed up one of his patented cross ice, attempted zone clear give aways, just like he has every game of his life….wait, oh yeah; wrong team.

By the way, I have no comment on the Carrie Underwear “story”, except to say I hate country music.   Far as I can tell, hockey players have been dating, marrying and generally carrying on with their lives for 100 years now.

Back On The Blog

December 27, 2008

hartsburg1

[Hello to you Hammers coming over from Iain Dale’s blog.  Just thought I’d let you know I’m a Spurs supporter.  We don’t need Bellamy because Keane is on his way back to White Hart Lane]

Some of you might have thought I was just being lazy with my one sentence review of the Flyers game and it would not be a huge stretch to assume such a thing about me, but it really isn’t accurate this time.   I’m just a little angry about my team and when I see such a lack luster effort (I’m not one of those fans who mistakes scoring goals with putting in effort) and I’ve been watching that same effort for the better part of the season, it just leads me to one conclusion.  It’s a conclusion that I can hardly bare to write; one that Bryan Murray cannot pull off with a straight face; one that King Biovail won’t be very happy about. 

The Senators have to fire Craig Hartsburg.  They have to do it now.

Exhibit A
On a snowy, icy, rainy night in Newark, the Senators looked very much under the weather. So much so, when I asked one Devils player about the opposition after the game, he responded by saying, “No heart.” Then he backtracked a bit, saying: “They looked disinterested; you could see it in their faces.”

Exhibit B
I watched the 2nd and 3rd periods of the Flyers game.  I didn’t see one; not even ONE meaningful hit from the Senators.

and Exhibit C
“Certainly I thought we went out and did something about it,” said Hartsburg, who also was confused as to why Lehtinen wasn’t thrown in the box.

“In a hockey game like that, you need to respond with constant physical play. Guys like (Chris) Neil, (Jarkko) Ruutu and (Cody) Bass did that. That was as physical a game as we’ve played, and a lot of it happened after that point. It was a strong response by our team.”

And lastly, Exhibit D

Let’s see if I can pull this all together:  The opposition knows you’re not playing hard.  Your fans know you’re not playing hard.  Your coach thinks that playing a physical game is a good response instead of a way of life and you’re in 12th place in the conference.  If that’s not enough, the coach also thinks that putting Jason Spezza with Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Neil is a recipe for success.

Hartsburg said if Spezza doesn’t have success playing with rugged wingers Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Neil, the next stop could be the press box for one of the club’s highest-paid players.

It’s pretty clear to me that Hartsburg does not have the attention of this team.  I don’t know exactly why that would be; whether it’s that they don’t respect his systems, his decisions or his methods, but whatever it is they’re not playing for Hartsburg and they’re apparently, not playing for each other either.  Here’s a comment I posted on The Sixth Sens (he sees Daigle people) website in regards to sticking up for Alfie when Jere Lehtinen squashed him into the boards.

free willig said…
Here’s the reason sticking up for Alfie is worth more than 2 points. Because if we’re not willing to stand up for Alfie, (or anyone else for that matter) then other teams can just run our guys without fear and pretty soon we’re playing our entire Bingo team (literally or literally). And, I would also argue that a team that is not willing to stick up for each other is not a team that has any chance in the playoffs. If you’re not playing for each other, you’re going nowhere. Lastly, your suggestion of Kelly (or someone of his ilk) challenging Lehtinen is EXACTLY what should have happened. It’s not about sending a heavyweight (if we had one) out to beat Jere to a pulp; the code is about making him accountable in a fair fight. That’s all I would ask. Lastly, (really this time) There is nothing to say that this would be mutually exclusive with gaining two points and it usually charges up your team.In finishing (no really), it bothers me when people who lay a clean check are made to drop the gloves. That’s just ridiculous, but Lehtinen’s hit was not clean. Not penalized, but not clean.        

To be sure, there are other issues with this team.   There’s not one defenseman on the team who is a threat to carry the puck up ice and make a play and honestly, I’m convinced that if we had just one such defenseman, you would see some of our forwards come out of their scoring slumps as offensive pressure from the backend opens up space for the forwards.  But, one thing you can always control and the one thing you absolutely have to bring to the rink every night ESPECIALLY if you’re challenged a bit offensively, is a physical game.  And that, my friends is coaching or lack thereof. 

In closing, is anyone else getting tired of the same quotes from the coach “we’re not putting in a 60 minute effort” and players “we’ve got to be better” after every loss.  Please find something new.

A Farce United!

December 22, 2008

a-farce-united

We tried it their way and they ended up doing it our way instead.  So, the Ottawa Bloggers Collective decided to make a campaign out of it.  Check out the other ads in the campaign.   There’s the Cynical;  there’s the Heart Wrencher; the Heart Wrencher and Serious; and the I Don’t Know What.  No, really….I have no idea what he’s doing.  I call mine, Man Contemplates  Turnaround.

If you would like to join the campaign, email your photos and a brief description to anyone in the Ottawa Bloggers Collective.  Bring your funny stick!

Take Another Sip From The Bowl Of Fetid Putrescence

December 21, 2008

toilet-22

And that from a game the Senators won.  It was abundantly clear that this was a game between two struggling teams.   The best part was really the end; partly because it was mercifully over and partly because Jason Smith got the game winner in overtime; his first point as a Senator.  Yes, his FIRST POINT.  You’d think in 30 games, he would have lucked into a second assist or something, but no.  The way the Sens celebrated, you would have thought they’d just won a playoff series.  Oy!

Gerber has a stinky five hole.
This was easily the worst game I’ve seen Martin Gerber play.  Anyone who has followed the Senators at all knows just what a powerful statement that is.  The Dallas announcers were even making fun of him.  One of the niceties of having Centre Ice, is that every now and then, you get a telecast that doesn’t take you to commercial but you continue to get the announcer’s conversation at commercial breaks.  These guys were really making shit out of Gerber and then they toned it down a bit but kept it going during the telecast.  “This thing looks like it’s headed to a three point game here again tonight….barring another shot on goal at Gerber’s end….”.  Hilarious!!

We use words like honor, code, loyalty….
The Senators use them as a punchline.  Alfie gets cleaned out and sent to the lockerroom on an illegal hit from Jere Lehtinen.  I do not care that it wasn’t penalized.  No one watching that game would argue it was a clean hit.  Even the Dallas announcers thought it deserved a penalty and I would say it deserved 5 minutes.  There was no answer by any Senator.  The fact that it wasn’t penalized should further dictate that retribution is exacted.  This is your CAPTAIN, you jackasses!  The one player on the team this team that absolutely deserves better than this putrescent season and you can’t even stand up and be counted when he’s cleaned out?  

And I thought I was embarrassed by this team up until now.

This win means nothing.  Sure, Vermette got off the schneid with his first goal in forever.  (how does someone get ON the schneid?)  Sure Spezza looked like he gave a shit (Heatley still doesn’t).  Sure Cody Bass would have hit his mother if she was on the ice.   This was still a win against a bottom feeder.   Win the next two and then we’ll talk.

That Thud You Heard?

December 17, 2008

Was the sound of my crest falling so hard it was felt in Ottawa.  I’m not going to say I don’t care about the Senators.  I will always care.  What changed for me last night?  I was no longer surprised, hurt or angry about losing to yet another team we should beat.  I will also no longer be able to summon joy when we win.  The wins won’t matter because this team is going nowhere unless there are changes in personnel.  I’m not interested in a trade for trades sake.   It has to be a good hockey move.  There are too many possibilities out there to speculate on what that might look like.  We’ll know a good hockey trade when we see it. 

No Longer Dejectedly Yours,

Free Willig
Hockey Schlock

Ants On Ice In Red Shirts, 2. Ants On Ice In White Shirts, 0.

December 16, 2008

At which game, one Freewillig was heard to have said, “My gawd, we’re even worse in person”. 

The Worst Thanksmas Ever
I happened to be in Milwaukee for Thanksmas last week, so I grabbed the wife, bro-in-law and his wife and made the trip down the Chi-town for the good ‘ol hockey match at the United Center; that souless, hollow, life-sucking cavern of a basketball court hockey rink.  Our seats were at center ice, 13th row of the upper deck.  In most hockey arenas, those wouldn’t be half bad, but here…..well….let’s just say that I was able to identify most of the players on the ice by their skating style and nothing else. 

I have more than enough Senators’ sweaters for everyone so we were some of the few decked out in Sens gear.  I was wearing my Havlat sweater for it’s ironic qualities and I would later come to regret that particular move.  We had planned to get to the arena by 6:30 for a 7:30 game, but if you’re at all familiar with Chicago traffic, you won’t be surprised to hear that we pulled in to the parking lot with just enough time to get a beer and get to the seats for the anthems.  (I don’t ever want to hear the operatic version of O Canada “sung” by the guy at the United Center again.  Yick!)   My wife has a friend (he played guitar at our wedding, actually) who is a manager of the food service at the United Center so he had promised to get us into the bowels of the building.  I had a quest; one which will not be fully revealed in this space just yet but more on that later.   The friend (we’ll just call him “Steve”….that’s his name) said he’d just catch up with us after the game and show us around then.

The Peroni Report
Most of the game, I spent with my head in my hands; alternately disgusted with the Senators’ play or with the complete stoning by Huet on the few great chances we had.  I’m sure this game was not as bad as it looked from the haze of the upper deck; it’s a torturously slow game from that far away.  Luckily, I was sitting next to some very nice Hawks fans, so I had some decent hockey conversation AND they have Italian beef sandwiches and Peroni at the United Center so not all was lost. 

Postgame and I Fear I’ve Jinxed Our Boy
Steve showed up at our seats with 30 seconds left in the game.  I thought we were just headed for a tour, but instead, he leads us to the autograph pen.  I had brought along a t-shirt to deliver to Cody Bass and that was my main goal for the evening; getting the shirt to Cody any way possible.  That seemed like it would be no problem at all now that I was behind the scenes. 

This is where having 4 sweaters along paid off.  I took off my Havlat sweater and was wearing my Cody Bass t-shirt.  Marty Havlat passed within 2 feet of me and I gave some thought to asking him to sign my sweater, but it just seemed weird.  Wife thought it would have been flattering, but I don’t know.  Some of the guys filed past and I gave a few words of encouragement; some of which were acknowledged and some just blown off.  I even gave the Manatee a “nice game”.  Heater had a group of kids from Madison, Wisconsin in attendance.  I guess he still does some charity work there, so he was occupied.  I didn’t have my Heater sweater along anyway.   The guys were remarkably good about signing stuff for the few Sens fans in the pen, given just how crappily they had played.   Alfie came by and signed the sweater my sister-in-law was wearing.  My wife has always like Neiler because he’s always really good to the kids along the tunnel at the Xcel when they play there, so he signed the sweater she was wearing.  Fish then came out and I flag him down to sign the sweater my bro-in-law was wearing.  I had Cody’s shirt in my hand, so I asked Fish “Is Cody still in the room?  I have to get this t-shirt to him”.  He looked at me and I pointed out the shirt I was wearing.  He laughed and said “I can give it to him”.  I guess there’s no one I’d trust more to pass something along.  I told him I really appreciated it. 
 
We had already been there an hour and with a two hour drive, we decided not to wait anymore.  Our friend walked us around in the underworld and I passed within two feet of Scotty Bowman, so that was a treat.  I was struck by just how freakin short the guy is. 
 
I think it would have been a helluva lot better experience had they not played like such shit in the game; I would have been much more chatty with the guys but all in all, I guess I’m just happy to be able to ‘mail the package’.  I will freely admit that it was quite weird being a 40 something guy, asking guys 10 years my junior for autographs.  It’s the first time I’ve gotten autographs in person.  Not sure how I feel about it. 
As you probably know by now, Cody Bass has been sent to Binghamton.  The unveiling of the T-shirt will just have to wait.  I hope he liked it. 

I Hab a Wart on my Fanny…Givin’ Me the Fidgets

November 21, 2008

Do you think the boys remember the complete ass-kickin they suffered the last time we faced the Habs?  Gawd, I hope so.  The Pollyanna in me says “no really, we played well last game, and they’ve really sucked lately.  This is a super (add a lisp if you want) opportunity”.   One thing I’ll say…it’s nice when the Habs come to town for this one embarrassing reason …at least there’s some energy in the building.

Cody Bass
I don’t want to make more of this than there is, but Bass had a big hit on Begin and Zubov gets a great chance shortly thereafter.  Bass draws a penalty with hard work.  Later, he gets in a fight with Begin.  It was a short but spirited bout.  I wouldn’t say our boy was an owner; he lost his skates, but what I like was he was still throwing punches the whole time he was falling down.  It’s inspirational….kinda like a speech from Jimmy Carter. 

You know what watching Cody Bass has done for me tonight?  It reminded me how much I dislike Shean Donovan.  Shean is the Anti-Cody; he has decent size and skates well.  You expect him to blast the opponent here or there but he just falls flat in the physical department….oh hell; Shean Dovovan is a pussy.  There; I said it. 

Don Van Masochistic.  I’m going to beat the shit out of him.  I suspect he’ll like it; why else would he wave off a Volchenkov (of all people) goal?  I just think he likes pain.  That’s all I can come up with.  (disclosure: in theory, I’m a pacifist, but I’ve punched people in the heat of competition so not wholly committed)  Anyhoo, Don Van Massenhoven completely fucked us out of a goal…and a Volchenkov goal at that.  He blew the whistle on a delayed penalty when the Habs had not even come close to possessing the puck.  Mike Brophy is also as good as dead.   His “oh well” rationale for disallowing the goal?  “I ran a stop light today and I didnt’ get caught”….that somehow makes the ref screwing us OK to Mike Brophy.  Well, maybe me wrapping a crowbar around your freakin neck and not getting caught is just about the same, eh? (fucker)

Shit!  Time to Settle Down
I like tulips.  Slather me in tulips. 

[we lose in another stupid shootout, btw]

MMMMMM……That’s Good Bass!

November 20, 2008

It was nice of the Senators to give Cody Bass a free trip to Europe, but many of us wanted to see the boy plying his wares with the big club for good.  His immediate return to Bingo for the North American version of play was deflating, at best.

Well, today he (and we) get the chance we’ve been waiting for (I’ll just let that dangle).  Go out there and do what you do Cody.  That really should be enough….we’ll take care of the rest.

I Hate Re-runs

November 16, 2008

So this damn well better not be one.  There really isn’t a lot of upside for the Senators in this game.  Win and you won’t be flogged, is as good as it gets for the Sens tonight.  Lose and we (the team and the fans) fall further into the abyss. 

The first period looks pretty good for the Senators.  They are actually passing the puck out of the zone instead of chipping it off the boards and hoping to get it back in the neutral zone.  But all the pressure has yet to pay off and the Isles get the first goal in the second period. (uh, WTF were you doing on that play Chris Phillips?)  Here we go again!  I hope the team isn’t feeling as deflated as I am right now.

Piling on
And then the Isles get a power play goal.  I just noticed that I haven’t seen Neil in the second period.  He either hurt himself in the first or he’s been traded.   For some reason, I’m feeling the latter as the fight Neiler had wasn’t much of anything at all.  Now that I think about it, he seemed reticent to throw a punch so I wonder if he didn’t have an ouchie.   And the irony is that all I’ve been thinking since the first period is “are we going to hit anyone…..ever again?”  What a bunch of fancy pants.  

I can hardly stand it anymore.  Five minutes into the third and we can’t get the puck out of the zone cleanly, we can’t establish a forecheck and we can’t (or won’t) hit anyone.  What can we do?  Give up a third goal. 

Ahhhh…the lip reading
Kuba takes a 4 minute penalty for high sticking and seen on the bench is Herr Hartsburg saying “Pucking Ballshot”…or something like that.  This has really been the only sign of life for the Senators since the first period; we’ve had the puck more than the Isles on this penalty kill. 

With about 10 minutes left, the Islander announcers are just noticing that Neil hasn’t played in awhile. 

The Senators got a power play goal from Heatley and then scored with 1:30 left and Auld on the bench.  They then tried to play the last 90 seconds with the same 6 skaters who had been on for the goal and couldn’t get the puck into the zone because the guys were tired.  Nice coaching. 

This is no way to squelch trade rumours
Whatever IT is, the Senators don’t have it.  After the last loss, Bryan Murray said he wasn’t at the point where he was going to make a trade just for the sake of stirring the pot.  I’m guessing he’s a bit closer to feeling that way after this loss.  The man looked like he was sitting on a mountain of hemorrhoids in the press box. 

Here’s where I am:  I’m willing to go with some combination of Vermette, Neil, Kelly and picks for a puck moving defenseman and see where the chips fall from there.  Another 15 games, if we haven’t made progress, it’s time to go with Elliott and give him an NHL look; not that Auld is a problem, but to get a read for the future.   If Elliott is brought up, he’s the goalie.  It makes no sense to bring him up to be the backup.  It’s not worth wasting a year of development for a young goalie to have him backing up.  That means sending Gerber to the minors, so if by chance, we get things going there’s some cap room for the deadline and maybe Bowmeester, but honestly, I’m having a hard time figuring how you fit another $6.5 million cap hit to this team without trading Spezza.  If you trade for Bowmeester, it can’t just be a rental.  That’s just stupid.

I hate that I’m feeling Herr Hartsburg was a poor choice.  The lack of physical play is a direct reflection on him.  After the crap they’ve shown on the ice recently, that he can’t even motivate them to go out and pound some ass is really disappointing.   I’m worried that Scarlett may be more drunk than I am tonight and I really hope that SALE has forgotten (yet again) to stock her liquor cupboard.  My guess is Dany Heatley Speedwagon is ready to drop a cruise missle on the organisation and Five For Smiting will say something funny. 
As for me, I’m back to sucking my thumb again.