Friday, January 13, 2006

Trouble in paradise

After last night’s sluggish effort against the Sharks, trouble is brewing. Sorta.

Tell ‘em Dominik:

”Of course, it’s very frustrating and they worked harder than we did, I think,” Hasek said. “We are losing games like 3-2 and 2-1 and if we don’t score five or six goals, we can’t win games. It’s important to win games 2-1 and 3-2. In the playoffs, there are going to be close games. We have to find a way. And we can’t do it, not at this point in the season….

Part of it must be mental, but it’s very important to find a way,” Hasek continued before abruptly finishing the post-game scrum, his point made.

In short, he’s right. Ottawa has yet to prove, on a consistent basis, that in tough, close games, they’re capable of winning. Certainly not against good teams anyway. It’s how they lost to Vancouver, Calgary, their first loss to Philadelphia, both recent defeats in Boston, and then again last night when hosting San Jose.

For a team with so much firepower, and who can run up the score against some teams, it’s quite perplexing, and needs to be rectified.

The unfortunate reality this season is that the Senators have yet to win many close, tight games. In said games, they seem to be unable to fight through and score goals.

The push from fans for GM John Muckler to make a move to bring in some secondary scoring remains prevelant. In the Ottawa Sun this week, Bruce Garrioch commented that there are rumblings out of Chicago about the Hawks wanting to unload some of their veterans, namely Matthew Barnbay, Curtis Brown, Martin Lapointe, and blueliner Jason Cullimore. Garrioch says Muckler is one of the many GMs interested.

Why? Do any of these names make sense to cure what ails the Senators? Barnaby is a gritty player, and someone I'd want on my team if I was starting from scratch, but he's a third line guy. Ottawa has more than enough of them. The current third unit, Chris Neil-Mike Fisher-Peter Schaefer has probably been the team's most reliable forward trio the last 15 or so games as far as work ethic and energy. Beyond those three, you have Vaclav Varada, another prototypical third line guy.

If Barnaby does come to Ottawa, where do you play him? On the first two lines, where scoring is needed? Hardly. On the fourth line? He makes $1.8 million. In this new NHL where every dollar counts, how much sense does that make? Earlier in the sense, we all commented how absurd it was that Varada, who makes nearly $600,000 less than Barnaby, was playing so little given his salary.

Martin Lapointe is a solid two-way player, and there were rumors back in August that Ottawa had signed him to a four-year, $8 million deal (Eklund was wrong?). He ended up in Chicago for $7.5 mil over three seasons. He's more gifted offensively than Barnaby, and thus might be able to help in that area, but do you really want to take on that contract when you have so many guys to be taken care of this coming offseason?

There are reports out of Phoenix that Petr Nedved who was a healthy scratch last night, is on his way out of that mix, and so naturally, with all the talk about Ottawa needing another forward, the Senators have been thrown into those rumors.

Nedved makes more sense than any of the runts of the Blackhawks litter, in theory anyway, because he's proven he's capable of being an offensive player, but if Tuesday was any indication of where his game is at right now, Muckler should stay as far away from that as possible.

So what have we learned? There is no quick fix not named Doug Weight out there.

Meanwhile, the latest on the Jason Spezza saga is not positive:

”I’m not going to give timetables anymore and I’m not going to skate with the team,” Spezza said. “But Saturday (versus the Edmonton Oilers) is out of the question.”

At least we can now stop pretending he’s only a few days away from coming back. Spezza will not be going on the road trip at all.

It seems, however, as if the training staff fucked this one up. They diagnosed the injury as a muscle pull, but we’re now learning it was a much more serious torn chest tendon. Whoops. Good going guys. Way to earn those paychecks.

It’s no wonder he hasn’t come back yet. And he probably hasn’t helped matters by skating so hard since then thinking, I’ll be back tomorrow, this isn’t that serious.

Maybe some days off will do him some good, but we’ve been saying that for a month now. Once he misses the Edmonton and Minnesota games, Spezza will have sat out more games than Brandon Bochenski did with his separated shoulder. Amazing.

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