Friday, June 4, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Grim times in Sens Land. Grim.
I'm trying to stay positive. I do believe that IF they can turn it around in time, this is the absolute best time for this skid to happen. Facing some major adversity right before the playoffs is a really good thing, so long as you can bounce back and learn from it. Look no further than the last losing streak we went through to see what can follow.
That being said, it's cutting it really close. It's do or die time. If this doesn't turn around very soon, we're looking at the real possibility that there will be no playoffs in Ottawa for the second year in a row. Atlanta is just six points back right now and surging. Montreal has caught up. Boston is 3 points back. Luckily for the Senators, the Rangers just plain suck.
There were some signs of life in Dallas yesterday afternoon. Despite a dispicable defensive game, the offense was really beginning to click. The D were pinching and the team as a whole was very effective in the offensive zone. Not to mention the power play, which was on fire (go figure). Jason Spezza had one of his best of the season, and Matt Cullen looked outstanding on the top line. Hopefully Cory Clouston sticks to that for now.
There were definitely positives that could be taken from yesterday's game, which is far more than could be said of the 2 previous.
As for the negatives... well there were a fair share of those as well.
Goaltending. I really don't know what to say. I have defended Pascal LeClaire to no end all season long. I kept pushing the issue that once he's healthy, he'll be a superstar and will take us all the way. And with Brian Elliott as a more than capable backup, we just can't lose!
Boy oh boy. Word of advice, Never, ever listen to me about anything. Ever.
Both guys have been just plain bad lately. Do I think all of the onus should be placed on goaltending? Absolutely not. But 5-6 goals allowed per night just won't win you games in the NHL. That's just the way it is.
I have no idea what the answer is in nets for this team. On message boards and blog comment sections across the city, folks are begging for the return of Mike Brodeur, the AHL goalie who got our last winning streak started and boasts a 3-0 record all time in the NHL. But the fact is, not only is he currently injured (although he is set to return very shortly), but he would also have to clear waivers to get here. I have a hard time believing Philadelphia wouldn't grab him. It would cost them what, $200 or so?
Not only do I have no idea what they should do for the final 10 games, but what about next season with both goalies signed into 2011? Maybe a summer's rest and s fresh season is all that's needed. But it doesn't appear as though LeClaire and Clouston quite see eye to eye. It'll be a long season indeed for Pascal if that's the case. But I guess that's a debate for another day.
Up next is Montreal. This is easily the game of the season so far for Ottawa. Could be the make or break moment of the year, boys. Win it, you're up 2 points on the Habs in the standings and on your way to recovery. Lose? Yikes.
Word has it that Zach Smith has been called up for the occasion to add a little youthful energy to the team. No idea who'll be sitting out, but what does that say about Shean Donovan? The guy is pure energy and continues to sit in the press box! Is there more to this story set to unfold? Will a bigger name be taking a seat tomorrow night?
Whatever happens, and no matter what blurts out of my mouth during and/or directly after the game tomorrow night, I stand by the Sens. I'm not sure I can say the same for the rest of the city though...
Saturday, February 6, 2010
I realize that there are tragic deaths every single day around the world; some close to home, some not-so-close. Some make headlines, some don't. But for whatever reason, last night's news of Brendan Burke's death really hit me hard.
It's people like Brendan who change the world for the better, and I really admire him for his courage and perseverance. He was an intelligent, well spoken and extremely well respected man, and he was in a very unique position to inspire change and acceptance in the all-too macho world of sports.
It's an incredibly sad day for the Burke family, and a major loss for those who fight to see their loved ones treated with equality and respect, regardless of how they live their lives.
Friday, January 1, 2010
The second post in this series of 'all-time all-stars' may be a bit of a stretch for some Sens fans... his last year here wasn't exactly one to be remembered. But regardless, Antoine Vermette will always have a place in my heart. Not only was he was a penalty killing machine and a short-handed sniper, but every so often, when you least expected it, he showed signs of sheer offensive brilliance. His problem was that he could never produce on a consistent basis, and as they so often do here in Ottawa, the fans grew impatient with the young center.
Vermette was selected by Ottawa in the second round of the 2000 entry draft (55th overall). Early-on in his carreer, between Binghamton and Ottawa (he spent his would-be sophomore season playing in Binghamton during the lockout, finishing second in scoring behind only Jason Spezza), he showed a ton of promise with his incredible skill and speed. He became a staple at the Sentaors Skills Competitions, year in and year out.
But as he grew out of his rookie years, his lack of consistency began to be an issue. As is customary around the league, Vermette's potential combined with his inability to ever quite 'break through' made him a constant target for trade rumors. And finally, after a dreadful start to the 2008-2009 season and weeks of neverending speculation, the Senators pulled the trigger at the trade deadline, sending Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Pascal LeClaire and a second round draft pick.
It was a day of mixed emotions. I loved Vermette, and as much as he could be frustrating at times, he definitely had some spectacular moments. It always felt as though he was just about to explode offensively. And even when he was struggling, he gave his all every night. By all accounts he was a popular guy in the dressing room as well (reminds me of a certain current ex-Shark on the team...). But all that being said, I was (and am) also an enormous fan of Pascal LeClaire.
Bryan Murray traded a struggling center who could never quite live up to his potential for a bona fide #1 goalie, and somehow managed to get a draft pick thrown in as well. I was terribly sad to see Vermette go, and I will always root for the kid. He deserves the respect of Ottawa fans... he loved it here and gave this city everything he had. When the news broke that he had been traded, he was clearly devastated while speaking to reporters. But I think the change did him a lot of good (he's enormously popular in Columbus), and it brought Ottawa one of the missing pieces to being a legitimate contender again. It was an opportunity for the Senators that they simply could not pass up. With the struggles Steve Mason has had all year, you've gotta wonder if Columbus regrets trading away their star goalie.
Here's one last look at a really good young player, who showed flashes of greatness (You may want to turn off the sound... yikes!).
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Why not start off with a bang, eh? Marian Hossa is, quite simply, my favorite hockey player, ever. That's not to say that Gretzky isn't The Great One, and Lemieux isn't right up there with him. It's not to say that Daniel Alfredsson shouldn't be knighted and given the key to the city of Ottawa. But Hossa is just one of those players... from the first second I saw him play, I admired him completely.
What I remember most of his rookie season was that he was a late comer, having missed several months due to a major knee injury suffered in junior the year before. He sort of came out of nowhere.
He was a highly touted prospect, picked 12th overall in the 1997 entry draft. But all we really knew about him was that his knee injury was a major issue and some were worried that as a result, he may never be the player the Senators hoped he'd be. Keep in mind, this was long before the blogosphere and rumor sites were around to keep us all up to the minute on such things.
So all of a sudden, there was this young rookie on the ice, #18, who immediately caught the attention of fans with his speed, his skill, and most importantly, his strength! I can still picture that trademark 'strong-arm' he would do (and still does...) as he forced his way through opponents. Hossa is a player with a ton of skill, no question, but he plays like a grinder. There's none of that 'soft-hands' softness you see with most skilled players. He just bulldozes his way around the net and he back-checks like a coach's dream.
In the summer of 2005, after years of dedicated service with The Ottawa Senators, Hossa was without a contract and push finally came to shove. But with just minutes to go, then GM John Muckler went against his word and signed the winger to a 3 year, $18M contract -- the highest salary in team history. And right before that giant sigh of relief could make it's way out of my lungs.... Disaster.
I was devastated. Totally devastated. I knew who Dany Heatley was, and I knew what he would bring to the table. I'm not going to say something ridiculous like "I knew he was a deadbeat"... none of us did. We were excited at the promise of this young talent, and Heater most certainly delivered on that promise.
Heatley brought with him a new, high octane offense that would contribute heavily to the Senators post-lockout success, and trip to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals. And he came at a much lower price tag as well. But for all the glory the Sens had in those years following the deal that sent Marian Hossa packing, no player could ever compensate for the loss of HOSS.
The Senators underwent some alarming changes under Muckler, and the Hossa trade was a pinnacle moment. Players that had been drafted and cultivated through the Senators system were being traded away, and draft picks and prospects were flying out the window in exchange for aging rental players who would help 'put us over the top'. Of course, none of them ever did, and in the end, the cupboards were left bare and the culture on the team hit rock bottom, and ultimately, Dany Heatley left, too. In that sense, we lost Hossa for nothing.
Hossa is about as complete a player as they come. He plays with energy, with skill and with heart, and he gives'er 100% every time he steps on the ice. Every time he has an expiring contract on the horizon, I get gitty with excitement at the thought of his return to the Senators. But I know it's a pipe dream. After all, it's not like he was treated very fairly in his final days here.
For what it's worth, the Chicago Blackhawks are in deep, deep cap trouble heading into next season. Perhaps?
My favorite all time Hossa moment... If anyone has an english version, please let me know!