Thursday, October 05, 2006

Toronto 6 Ottawa 0

THE GOOD:

A much needed reality check. Every team has to hit some roadblocks in a season. Perhaps it’s a good thing Ottawa got theirs so early in the term. Tonight’s debacle was a harsh slap in the face that things won’t be as easy as last year, when they could play an ordinary game and still come out with a two goal win. The Sens are still among the NHL’s elite, I believe, but if they expect to be able to coast through 60 minutes and pull out two points, they’re in for a rude awakening. Let’s hope the 6-0 drubbing will serve as motivation for a team that seems to desperately need it. They should feel embarrassed. They got spanked at home opener by their biggest rival. If that doesn’t light a fire under their collective asses, then we’re in for a LONG season folks.

Mike Fisher. There weren’t a lot of Sens players who could fall into this category, but if I had to pick one, it would be ol’ faithful, #12. Fisher’s effort was where it usually is: top notch. He didn’t take a shift off and when almost every one of his teammates were half-assing it out there, Fisher worked hard every shift and maintained a strong forecheck presence. On nights like this, it’s a shame there aren’t 19 Mike Fishers in this organization.

Ray Emery. He didn’t look particularly good on the goal he allowed, but overall, I thought Emery was strong in relief of Martin Gerber and should get the start Saturday night when the Sabres visit.

The return of the Battle of Ontario. If we’re looking for positives after this mess, and that’s what I try to do instead of drowning my sorrows in hard liquor, we can at least celebrate the fact that this year’s season series looks to be competitive. That’s good. Because as much fun as last season was, and believe me, I loved every minute of it, these games are much more enjoyable when the two teams are at least a little bit evenly matched.

Dominik Hasek loses. Yes, I’m that vengeful.

The Lost season premiere. So The Others really aren’t hut dwelling peasants? Well I’ll be damned.

THE BAD:

Pretty much everything. This was as bad a game as I’ve seen the Sens play in a while. Maybe I’m forgetting some other headaches. The blowout in Atlanta last season immediately comes to mind, but yikes, this was ugly. Usually their stinkers take place on the road, so doing it in front of a home crowd makes it worse. Throw it who it was against and I feel like I got kicked square in the balls about eight times. To single out a particular player wouldn’t be fair, because, honestly, they all sucked. Some more than others, but the entire team played like ass. There was no jump to their step. No drive to their game. With the puck they were sloppy and thoughtless. In their own zone they were a nightmare. If you had a drinking game consisting of a Sens skater having the puck on his stick but not getting it out, you would have been ridiculously shitfaced by 8:30. To put it frankly, they just didn’t want it. Not half as badly as the Leafs did.

Martin Gerber. After pretty much stealing the first period for the Sens Wednesday night, allowing the Sens to rally in the second period and get the win, Gerber fell back to Earth and gave me, and many of you I’m certain, visions of Patrick Lalime. That first goal by Chad Kilger was vintage Lalime during the 2003-04 season, and unfortunately it didn’t get better from there. The Ottawa defence didn’t do Gerber any favors, as they had an equally awful night, however, when you have a $3.7 million goalie, you’d hope he could stop a lot of those shots that lit the lamp. The alleged goaltending controversy, sparked by his poor pre-season, was quieted 24 hours ago, but this is the kind of outing that gets that talked started all over again.

Special teams. Toronto’s powerplay, which failed them the night before, was on fire and Ottawa couldn’t handle it, while the Sens did zero with their own man advantage opportunities. Half the time the play wasn’t even in the Leafs zone. Brutal.

Anton Volchenkov. Hey Wayne, you like this kid so much? Throw some pucks our way and we’ll let you have him. And with Preissing still out, Volchenkov is going to have to continue to play big minutes. I fear what Daniel Briere and Maxim Afinogenov will do to this sad sack in two sleeps.

Undisciplined play. If the penalties are from infractions for going hard to the net, preventing a prime scoring chance, or just generally mixing it up and getting carried away, I don’t think Bryan Murray would rake that player over the coals. When they’re mindless mistakes, the way almost every penalty the Sens took tonight was, you know there will be Hell to pay. Peter Schaefer in particular will get it, and should. He took two terrible “new NHL” penalties, both of which occurred when the Sens had a powerplay.

THE OPPOSITION:

Give the Leafs full marks for this W. Some might try and dismiss the victory by saying it wasn’t as much as they won as it was that Ottawa lost (the way Leafs fans rationalized the thrashings we laid on them last season). That’s bullshit. The Senators certainly played awful, but Toronto came to play, took it Ottawa, and deserved the two points they left the nation’s capital with.

While on Wednesday night it was almost exclusively Mats Sundin providing the offensive jump for the Buds, tonight it was a team effort. Darcy Tucker, who I thought was strangely invisible except for a bad slashing penalty in the opener, was back to his old self, stirring the pot, scoring goals, and generally being a fucking dick. He has to play like this every night for the Leafs to challenge for a playoff spot, and if I’m Paul Maurice, I give him the most minutes of any forward besides Sundin.

As well, the defensive breakdowns that characterized Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss were largely non-existent tonight. Does Pavel Kubina make that much of a difference? Staying on the defence, Ian White impressed the shit out of me. He was terrific with the puck and played over 20 minutes.

So which Leafs team is the real deal? The one who, for 45 minutes of gameplay, sleepwalked through opening night, or the club that stormed into Ottawa and dominated the Sens? I’m not sure yet, but I do know that even if the answer is right in the middle, they’ll be a more competitive team than last year.

UP NEXT:

Buffalo, and just what this team needs, I think. If they can’t get up for that game, with the team that ousted them coming to town, then we can sound the alarms, even if it is only three games in. I’m not going to lay on the hyperbole too thick and say it’s a must win, because it’s not, but the Sens need a good outing for 60 minutes, and this fanbase needs something to loosen the ropes around our throats.

7 Comments:

At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Dennis Prouse said...

Yep, Hasek had an .823 save percentage last night, pretty awful. How do you only give up 17 shots, but still lose? Answer: Sign a washed up 41 year old as your starter. How Ken Holland saw Hasek as an upgrade on Legace I'll never understand.

I'm ready to chalk up last night to just a bad night early in the year but I'll tell you what -- if they deliver any more clunkers like that to a sold out home crowd, they may struggle to sell out many games this year. This is a small market, and from a purely financial point of view this team simply can't afford to have a losing season.

 
At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anshu said...

Speaking of Volchenkov, I'm still disappointed last year's rumour never came to fruition - the one that had Vermette and Volchenkov going to Minnesota in return for Brian Rolston.

I still think had that trade actually happened, the Sens would have gone on to win the cup last year.

Its all the worse this year watching Volchenkov consume $1.5M of cap space, while Vermette still struggles to establish himself as a credible 3rd line player.

Hopefully when Preissing and Corvo get back, this team gets more offensive support from their D, something they'll need because they almost certainly won't be shutting any teams down.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger ninja said...

White ain't bad, eh? And he took a licking as well, but I think that just fired him up.

 
At 11:22 AM, Anonymous pete said...

For the Leafs, a bunch of positives. Just as I think the 4-1 score was unfair, I think a 6-0 score last night was unfair. Yes, the Leafs outplayed the Sens, but only 3, maybe 4 or the goals were as a result of nice, smart plays. Gerber simply shit the bed. And Raycroft was sharp, and lucky. I think 4-2 seems like a fairer representation of the game.

The thing that's amazed me most about these past two games is that I can't remember the last time the Senators defensemen were so consistently unable to get the puck out and start a breakout. With the loss of Chara and the addition of Preissing and Corvo, I was expecting less sandpaper back there but an even more impressive transition game.

I've seen none of that. It amazes me. We'll have to see what happens when those two come back.

Yes, it's only two games in. But i haven't seen the Leafs able to give Senator d-men such fits in their own zone in a while. Team defense has always been a strength of yours.

Fisher was once again superb. Far and away my favourite Senator.

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger Fauxrumors said...

1) A loss is never good, but hopefully the Sens will take this as a wake up call.
2) They aren't the same team as 2005-06. They may have to out work teams to win this year!

 
At 12:19 AM, Blogger aquietgirl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:20 AM, Blogger aquietgirl said...

Thank god I missed this game.

Seeing Havlat with a 4-pt night just rubbed it in.

 

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