Monday, April 17, 2006

It's time to admit Dominik's done

Today's practice did not go well. Dominik Hasek didn't take part in the full practice, instead off to the side doing his own thing. One observer described it as Hasek standing there allowing pucks to hit him rather than makes saves. He looked nothing like a goalie who's going to play anytime soon, not even going down.

The playoffs start in four games. He will not be ready, barring some miracle. The team maintained that he would be, while those of us not drinking the Kool-Aid realized that they were in denial. Even they appear to have finally realized the reality of the situation: a 41-year-old goalie with a history of groin injuries who has routinely pulled the choute in the past. You'd think John Muckler would see this coming, having been a part of it in Buffalo, but it just might be one of the many blunders he's made that should cost him his job if this season doesn't end the way we expect it to.

If Hasek is done, the finger has to be pointed at the organization and Hasek himself for allowing the situation to come this. A month ago, they should've stopped this nonsense, quit the spin in the media, and said Ray Emery is the guy. If Hasek can come back, fine, but we're going ahead assuming he won't be.

There can be no disputing this mess can be a big distraction to the team. Every day the players are asked about it. The coaches, who don't seem to be in the loop either, are asked about. It appears as though they're finally realizing what those of us with a lick of common sense did a long time ago: they had to rally around Emery.

Unfortunately, all that game time has Emery banged up. He says his hip is feeling better, but he did not look very mobile on Saturday night.

Another problem is Emery appears to have lost a lot of that confidence which made his run in March so possible. I've maintained for a while Emery is a streaky goalie, a fact I relished as the playoffs were approaching. I didn't think he would get on the opposite end of a streak like he has.

He started the season strong, hit a rut, and then rediscovered his game. He now looks to be back where he was before the Olympics, except with a bad hip. I don't think he'll sit, because he's so much of a competitor that I believe he'd play with a broken leg, but how effective can he be?

That leaves Mike Morrison as the sole survivor. A guy who the team got off waivers in March could very well be the guy between the pipes in the playoffs.

If that happens, I know who I'm sending my hate mail to.

UPDATE:The practice was also notable for it's new lines:
Chris Kelly - Jason Spezza - Dany Heatley
Patrick Eaves - Bryan Smolinski - Daniel Alfredsson
Peter Schaefer - Mike Fisher - Martin Havlat
Vaclav Varada - Antoine Vermette - Chris Neil


At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the Fisher, Schaefer, Havlat line. If they get going, they could do some damage, and would be a very solid number 3 line. The fourth line looks decent to me too.

But the first two lines don't look that strong compared to many other teams heading into the playoffs. Shut down Spezza-Heatley and there's not enough firepower on that second line to pick up the slack. I realize this is probably an effort to spread the talent across more than just one line, but the reality may be that there isn't enough to go around.

Too bad Tyler Arnason turned out to be a bust so far. They was room for someone to step up, but it really hasn't happened.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

I agree on the upside of the new Fisher line. Schaefer's a great passer and is a wonderful board player, Havlat can score, and Fisher plays the body and goes to the net with more regularity than anybody else on the team. All three can skate. Has the potential to be very dangerous.

I still think you have to keep the Big Line together, though after Saturday night's game I can understand Murray's desire to mix things up.

Putting Smolinski on your top two lines is asking for trouble from where I sit, and I think he'd drag Alfie down with him the way Arnason did.

I'm also beginning to join the "play Antoine Vermette more" club. I used to think he was better suited to play limited even strength minutes so he can be fresh for the PK. In the past, whenever he's gotten a chance to play on the first two lines, he's struggled.

But maybe it's time to give him a shot. He makes more sense than Kelly with Spezza and Heatley, though he may not be as defensively sound as CK.

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that our big line is really important, however I really like having three strong right wingers. It stretches out the other teams defense. So basically Havlat will be playing either against a second or third pairing, or a tired first pairing. When hoss was around I thought it was one the greatest strenghts of this team, and if this gels , it's just another reason for other teams to fear our attack.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger aquietgirl said...

Did Arnason kill Murray's cat?

What is going on here? Do we assume that their discussion did not go well?

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

Arnason with Ottawa: 19 games, 0 goals, 4 points, -4

It's got nothing to do with Murray's cat, it's got to do with Arnason not playing very well.

At 10:40 PM, Anonymous tomd said...

Kelly, Eaves Smolinksi as top 6 forwards? what a joke

the big line is our top line, the fisher should be second

varada pulls one good deke and he stays in?

we are going to get killed again

At 10:44 PM, Blogger aquietgirl said...

It's got nothing to do with Murray's cat, it's got to do with Arnason not playing very well.

He was brought into develop chemistry with Havlat. No, he hasn't scored, but he's been better than Varada. What's the harm in putting him in the line-up over Vaclav?

At 11:11 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

The problem with putting Arnason over Varada is where he'd be playing. Varada, on that fourth line, is asked to be defensively responsible and provide some spark. He hasn't done it with the regularity that I would like this season, but at least that is a part of his game. Arnason has been a minus player since coming over and is the definition of a perimeter player. Does he have more upside offensively? Probably, but at this point the negatives outweigh the positives.

I still think Arnason will get a shot in the playoffs, but I can't fault Murray for this decision. Arnason was given every opportunity to shine and has failed to deliver. If he can't cut it with Alfredsson, the best player on the team, why do you think he can with Havlat, who's still pretty rusty based on his play Saturday night.

If there were a dozen games left in the season I'd say sure, let them find it. But the time for experimenting is over.

At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

I can only give some input from his final weeks with the Wings. All of the talk from Hasek sounds very familar, and Dom kept repeating he needed a few games under his belt before the playoffs start.
My opiion, he won't be back.

At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Arnason -- how do you score ZERO goals getting that much ice time on a team this talented? I spent a fair bit of time watching this guy in both the Atlanta and Boston home games, and I'm not sure I have ever seen a softer, lower energy player than Arnason. No passion, all perimeter. There's no doubt he has talent, and you can always hope that you can be the team that rubs the lamp the right way, but as it turns out there is a reason why Chicago gave up on him. (Let's keep in mind that a Sutter couldn't coax a decent effort out of him -- that should have been the clue right there.)

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Zamboner said...

Those lines are pure Jacques Martin...

NOT good. Fisher and Havlat dont really complement each other... and while Schaefer can pass, he usually just cycles.

Alfredsson - Spezza - Heatley
Eaves - Arnason/Smoke - Havlat
Schaefer - Fisher - Neil
Kelly - Vermette - Schubert

Those would be my lines.

At 12:54 AM, Blogger hamb0ne said...

Not bad. I'd swap Smolinski for Vermette to punch up the second scoring line. But could Smolinski fill the energy line role? Maybe Denis Hamel?


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