Saturday, November 04, 2006

Carolina 3 Ottawa 2

THE GOOD:

Daniel Alfredsson. Yeah, I said it. And those of you who started booing the captain tonight when the team was falling apart before our very eyes in the third need to check your hockey IQ. If not for Alfie, this one would have been much uglier. In addition to scoring the goal which I would have thought would've quieted the critics, Alfredsson played determined all night. Strong on the forecheck, relentless in battles for pucks, an agressive attitude to playing the body, and a sound defensive game. Contrast that to Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley and then decide who should be shipped out of town if you're wanting a big shake-up. And while I'm at it: if you want to play the "hindsight ISN'T 20/20 game", one I know we all love, let's go a little easy with the "BOY THE TEAM SURE MESSED UP BY TRADING MARTIN HAVLAT INSTEAD OF DANIEL ALFREDSSON" nonsense. I expect that kind of idiocy from certain bloggers, whether it be on their own page or when the local paper gets lazy and decides to devote two pages to reader comments and ol' faithful chimes in so he can say he writes for that particular publication, but really people, think about that one for a second. You question Alfredsson's heart but praise Havlat? He's a tremendous talent, a great scorer, but has the heart of the tin man pre-Yellow Brick Road walk and the durability of a Pinto. If he was the captain, this team would be in such trouble we'd be yearning for a 5-7 record.

Chris Phillips. He'll take some heat for the unsportsmanlike conduct call in the third. I'm sure of that. But aside from that mental lapse, the Big Rig had a strong game, I thought. Very physical, excellent work on the PK, and led the team in blocked shots with 7. On the penalty itself, I thought the first call for the hit on Brind'Amour was total bullshit, but I don't think it made a lick of difference between the 'Canes were pressing as it was and probably would have scored regardless, however, it sure left me leaving the building with a sour taste in my mouth. I believe Phillips' outburst was as much about the team's struggles this season as it was about that particular call. You won't find a guy who cares more about this city, this team, and these players than Chris Phillips. If someone stood up after this game to rally the troops, to call out those who aren't carrying their load, I'd bet good money Philly was the guy doing it. So you know he has to be taking this recent stretch hard, and I believe that stick smash was him letting it all out.

Chris Kelly. Another one who shined on the penalty killing and was a big reason Denis Hamel got that goal to make it 2-0.

Martin Gerber. Started fighting the puck a little in the third, when the whole team started playing like shit, but overall, it was another solid game from the 'tender. He was good positionally and gave minimal rebounds (until the third period anyway). On the goals, the only one I'd say he should have had was the winner, but when you're down two men it's sort of a given you'll be scored on. Unless, of course, you're the Sens.

THE BAD:

A collapse.
It hardly came out of no where, but it's still discouraging to see the Sens fall apart with such ease.

Jason Spezza.
You want to point fingers? You want to lay blame? Here's as good a place as any to start. Jason Spezza is playing dreadful right now and if this is the first line center we're expecting to carry us this season, this team in a heap of trouble. Right now, Spezza is coasting off of a three-game run where he tallied a shitload of points. If you try and criticize him, his defenders point out the fact he's leading the team in scoring. That's all fine and well, and I'm glad he decided to show up for those three games, however, game in and game out, he's a mess. There is zero committment to his game. The excuses of him being a young kid went out the window when they dished out $9 million to this apparently pimply faced, high pitch voiced centre. If you want to be paid like a top level player, you better come to play like it night in and night out. This does not mean he won't go through dry spells. But these games where the effort is non-existant demonstrate why this team will never win a Cup. It's not because the Captain is Swedish as you armchair Don Cherry nationalists. It's not because Zdeno Chara is gone, lest you forget what a slug he was in May. It's not even because we don't have a supposed #1 goalie. It's because one of our key pieces of the puzzle is unreliable. You never know which Jason Spezza you're going to get. Will it be the guy who can take over a game or the slow skating pylon that is invisible despite playing 20 minutes? Spezza is still making the same mistakes he did five years ago, when Jacques Martin "insulted" him by suggesting he wasn't mature enough to play in the NHL. At 23, he's still not, it seems on a lot of nights. I have to think Bryan Murray and his staff have sat the guy down, played video, and pleaded with him to correct his errors. Yet he continues to make them.

Dany Heatley. Not much better. My frustration with him is only at an 8 though, because I still see some effort on most of his shifts.

That fuckin' powerplay.
Kinda goes without saying at this point. The Sens were literally handed this game by the referees and the Hurricanes lack of discipline, and for what seems like the billionth time this season, failed to make anything of it. In the third period of a 2-2 game, Ottawa had four powerplay runs and didn't score a single goal. They even had another 5-on-3 for more than 40 seconds and nothing came from it. The effort was there, in most cases, and they did a nice job of distributing the puck, but at some point, you have to score. I'm hoping and praying that when Wade Redden comes back, things will get better, because I'm beginning to think it's a matter of if this PP will turn it around, not when.

Antoine Vermette. A poor effort from the usually steady winger. On the game winner, Vermette has to be held responsible for the gaff in his own end.

Alexei Kaigorodov. Look, you seem like a nice kid. You're very talented. You will probably be an excellent NHLer some day, perhaps soon. But that time is not now.It does you no good to play three minutes and watch most of a game from the bench. If you were smart, you'd go to the AHL, play a ton of minutes, get aclimitized to the North American game, and come back ready to tear it up next season. I understand if you're homesick, and maybe you're not cut out for hockey on this side of the Atlantic, however, not reporting makes you look very unprofessional.

THE OPPOSITION:

Carolina's a team that needed the two points as much as the Sens, and at some point in the second period, started playing like it. A switch was flipped, and they resembled the team that ripped through last season. Cam Ward was terrific, Erik Cole was awesome (three points and very physical), Rod Brind'Amour was dominant in both ends of the ice, Eric Staal was excellent with the puck, and their defence, while lacking a star, was strong from start to finish. Are they back or was this their version of Ottawa's three W run where they scored

Because be sure, they were far and away the better team. They outshot the Senators 40-26 and dictated the pace of the game for the majority of the contest.

UP NEXT:

It may look like a gimme, but the Sens cannot afford to take the Capitals lightly when they travel to D.C. Monday night. The Caps are not good team but they come to play and if Ottawa takes the night off , the end result will be the same as it was tonight. That guy Ovechkin is rolling, having scored two goals tonight. He might just make the Sens look foolish.

7 Comments:

At 1:46 AM, Blogger Nick said...

I'm in full agreement re: Alfredsson. If people are looking for a scapegoat, he ain't it. I've maintained all along that he is an excellent captain, and it would be a shame to trade him away for what would undoubtedly be less than fair value just because of these silly comments about his his "heart". I would bet good money that Ottawa isn't a playoff calibre team without Alfie, and if they traded him I'd expect the team to miss the postseason within two years.

 
At 3:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not really to argue one way or another about whether Havlat or Alfredsson should have been traded, but as far as I recall, no one ever suggested that Alfredsson should be traded and Havlat should be named captain. And if that wasn't your point, you probably shouldn't have brought it up.

 
At 11:34 AM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

The Capitals are no longer a gimme. They are playing pretty good hockey right now. Ovechkin is awesome, Semin has been great and something has gotten into Zubrus because he already has 9 goals. And Pothier has been an excellent addition to their defense (9 assists, team leading +4). Plus they have very good goaltending which is exactly what gives the Senators fits, especially now when they must be having huge confidence issues when it comes to their offensive abilities (15 goals in 9 games outside of that 21g in 3 game outburst).

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

"Not really to argue one way or another about whether Havlat or Alfredsson should have been traded, but as far as I recall, no one ever suggested that Alfredsson should be traded and Havlat should be named captain. And if that wasn't your point, you probably shouldn't have brought it up."

I shouldn't have brought it up? It's my blog.

And the point is, now all the armchair GMs are saying the Sens made a mistake by letting go of Havlat and not Alfie. If Alfie leaves, is Havlat going to fill that leadership void? If so, then they're in big trouble.

With the $5 million you pay Alfredsson, you get a captain. If you paid Havlat $10 million you still wouldn't get that because that's not who he is as a player.

 
At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Rachael said...

From my vantage point last night (section 318), Heatley and Spezza looked like total floaters. No effort whatsoever to go after the puck, the only good play I saw was a breakaway in the first where one of his "trademark back passes" actually worked and Ward made the save.

I'm really tired of this two-faced Spezza, it seems he only does enough to get him back in the coach's good books and then slacks off for a couple of games.

I think it's time to make some changes...i.e. bring in a number 2 centre who can compete for the number 1 spot. If Spezza thinks his position is in jeopardy, I think he'll actually play like he means it. No offense to Fisher here, he's a great player, but I don't think Spezza sees him as a threat, and that what he needs. A potential blow to the ego that will light a fire under his butt!

 
At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lay a significant portion of the blame on Muckler for Spezza's attitude. When Martin gave Spezza a bit of mild kick in the pants for his lack of presence in some games, Muckler came out squarely in Spezza's corner. The message to Spezza was clear, he was bigger than any coach & defence & consistent play was for lesser players & not him. Sadly, Muckler may have ruined Spezza's career - he is magic when he has the puck & when he is focused. He reminds me of Pierre Larouche, a big talent who could never keep it together for 2 seasons & became a gypsy who eventually floated out of the game.

I also agree with you on Alfie. Best player Ottawa ever or still has but I expect him to be gone. Muckler seems to be trying to unload all Europeans for a song. Also I do not understand where this talk of keeping Havlet versus Alfie is coming from. Ottawa could have kept Havlet & Alfie this year. Sure there was a high likelihood the team would have lost Havlet for nothing at the end of the season but many other teams seem prepared to “hire” a player for 1 season & many teams seem prepared to even give up quality draft picks or players for “rent-a-players”. Why can’t Ottawa do this? Besides it is hard to imagine Ottawa getting less for Havlet than what they got. The trade for Havlet stunk & it had nothing to do with Alfie staying or going.

Besides if Ottawa wanted to trade for real quality, the players to think of trading where Redden, Phillips, Spezza, Heatly, Volcenckov, Vermette & Eaves. These guys all would have got real interest & maybe even a quality 1st or 2nd line center. I am not saying Ottawa should trade these guys – I like all of them but this fixation on only dumping Europeans is stupid & in the end will cost any chance of winning a cup.

Jinx

 
At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it's your blog. But talking about Havlat being captain in place of Alfredsson, a suggestion no one ever made, smacks of... oh, what do the kids call it? Setting up a straw man.

Fisher, Redden, Phillips, Spezza, and probably Neil all would have been in line in front of Havlat to take Alfredsson's C.

 

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