Wednesday, April 12, 2006

R.I.P. Toronto Maple Leafs – 2005 - 2006

As I awoke and turned on the radio this morning I was serenaded with the lovely voices of the Toronto Media explaining that the Leafs are still in it and had a good chance at getting into the playoffs. Furthermore, the common thought around here is that if they snuck in to the post-season they would surely beat Ottawa and could make a real run – Are you kidding me?

This has to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Not only have the Leafs had no pressure since getting wiped by the Habs a few weeks ago, they have also essentially been eliminated from the playoffs since the return from Torino. All the Leafs have managed to do is shoot themselves in the foot. Not only has this winning streak lost them the chance at getting a good player in the draft, but more importantly it has given this team a sense of belief that it can compete next year with a few extra pieces. News Flash – it will take a complete re-build for this team to become a contender. Something that should have started at the Trade deadline.
The common thought around here is that Chara, Elias and Weeks will sign here on July 1st. I would certainly agree that there is a chance – a 1-30 chance. Everyone will try to land those guys and Toronto fans need to take the blinders off and realize that they are not the number one destination for anyone but soon to be retirees hoping for a swan song in their home town.

Let's face it Leaf fans - You have absolutly nothing to look forward to in the next five years. Now move on.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sens Game Report - BOS@OTT - 4.11.06

Photo: (AP Photo/CP, Jonathan Hayward),
Let the reunion begin

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa finally wins, 4-3 in overtime
Ottawa goals: Vermette (21) banging one in the rebound after Schubert’s hard work, Chara (15, pp) sitting in front on the 5-on-3 and popping in the idle puck, Kelly (10) with a half open net after Varada’s ‘how’s-she-going’ on an unsuspecting Bruins d-man, Chara (16, GWG) wraps the puck around the net in overtime and it finds its way over top of Thomas for the win
Making Sens(e): Chara, Alfredsson, Varada, Fisher, Redden just for being there
Not much Sens(e): Heatley (-2), Smolinski wasn’t strong
It was over when: Regulation ended and we realized that we had five minutes to score or we’d lose in a shootout.
It was definitely over when: We held the puck on our sticks for the entire 40 seconds of overtime before Chara put it in with a goal almost reminiscent of the tying goal against Toronto in Game 6 two years ago, although this time he stuck with the backhand.
Message in a Molson bottle: This just in – we get a lot of shots on net. This time we peppered Thomas for 44 of them and really need to find a way to make more than four of those get through, especially against a weak team with a goaltender that has been sent to so many places that he makes Willy Loman look like a stay-at-home dad.
Courtesy Boxscore:

Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:

1st period – And we’re baaaaaaaaack
Well, we’ve been saying for two weeks that we never would have given up that goal or lost that game if Chara and Redden were in the lineup. Tonight, they were in the lineup and it took us until overtime, along with the help of one of the returning d-men, to put away a team that has been morally eliminated from the playoffs since early November. While the scoresheet may not look the way we (at least I) expected it to, we were really in front of the Bruins the entire game. It is somewhat alarming that the return of Redden’s outlet passes and Chara’s physical presence were so badly needed to beat the Bruins just in overtime – what would have happened if Brad Norton was still getting 10 minutes of ice time? But guess what? Norton didn’t get ice time, Chara played 30 minutes and Redden nearly 26, and we won. To say it is great to see these two back in uniform is the understatement of the month thus far.

2nd Period – Goaltending controversy?
To be honest, that title was just to grab your attention. Our goalie situation isn’t so much a controversy as it is a bit of a problem. Hasek is still new to practice, Emery is banged up and tired, and Morrison looked like a guy recently claimed off waivers. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be put onto home ice after not playing consistently in the past 6 weeks, but Morrison’s three goals would all have been stopped by Emery (which means Hasek, too). So if you are Coach Murray, what do you do? We need these last three wins to clinch the conference (and yes, we want to clinch the conference), but you have a tired goalie, a shaky goalie, and a 42-year old goalie to choose from (can you guess which ones are which?). This is why I’m glad I’m not the coach. In a perfect world, you could shut Emery down until needed again, let Morrison play against an inferior Panthers team Thursday, and have the Dominator in nets in T-O. In a realistic world, Emery pronounces himself ready and plays out the season and lets Hasek start Game 1 as his rehab stint.

3rd Period – Where do all the good shots go? when will they ever learn…
Four goals tonight and all of them were from within ten feet of the net. The reason that we are always pushing passes back to the point is so that the defencemen fire a shot with eyes. There are quite a few different things that can happen as a result of that point shot: a) it goes straight in, b) it is tipped and goes in, c) it bounces off the goalie for a rebound, d) it is blocked by an opposing defenceman, or e) the goalie saves it and hangs on. By my count, three of those results are good things. The fact that we had 44 shots on net tonight would lead you to believe that we are getting pucks through from the point and that we are also getting rebound shots. You’d be right. This trend MUST continue for another two months if we are to be true to our goal. It is important to note that all of our defencemen have become much smarter when taking these shots, as well. Unlike during the middle of the season, our point shots aren’t taken carelessly with an opposing forward lined up for a block and potentially a breakaway the other way. We now know that our job is to do everything we can to make sure that puck gets as far through the traffic as possible and either tip it in or be ready to pounce on a rebound. Hey, it led to four tonight. Snazzy goals and playoff hockey aren’t necessarily like spaghetti and meatballs (or for Eastern Europeans, like lamb and tuna fish). Dirty bounces and hard-earned goals separate the hockey players from the golfers from now on.

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Hi, I’m Tyler Arnason, have we met? No? Well, I’m a great skater but would rather stand around and see what Alfie is gonna do next. To give you an idea of where Murray sees Arnason, only Varada and Schubert had less time among forwards (add Novak from the defencemen).
2. Meszaros back in the running for plus/minus title with a +2 effort tonight. This should be something that all of you keep an eye on through the weekend as our beloved rookie tries to make history.
3. Carolina gets one point for the overtime and so were are up a mere single point in the Eastern Conference standings, each of us with three games to play. We have Florida, Toronto, and the Rangers while they have a home and home against desperate Tampa Bay and then Buffalo. If we don’t win the conference, it is our own fault. Did you know that Tampa has dubbed itself Hockey Bay, Florida? I hope that creative thinking can find a way to get fans to come back after a pretty poor follow up year to the Cup winning season.
4. Havlat officially in for Saturday. Rumour has it that the final tests he underwent today involved Chara beating him senselessly with oversized barbecue ribs in his shoulder in front of a panel of doctors. While Havlat cried from flying bbq sauce in the eyes, his shoulder was still good to go. Thanks, Zee. Here’s your bib.
5. Boston’s first goal was a result of a Heatley turnover on our powerplay on the Boston blue line. I understand that Heaters has a heavy shot, but there was always a sense of comfort when we stuck Alfie on the point as he could stickhandle well, pass well, and defend well. At the same time, Heaters is the king of getting goals on the doorstep, so why have we switched these two guys?
6. Varada visits After I had declared him to be unfit for playoff hockey, he puts in arguably his best performance of the season, even earning Murray’s confidence to be on the ice with 1:30 left and a one goal lead.
7. Cash this one in – we WILL have the opportunity to mathematically eliminate the Laughs on Saturday night in the Big Smoke. Will Darcy Tucker fall down? Probably. I know we didn’t play them tonight, but is Tucker the biggest diver in the league or the worst skater in the league? The correct answer – both.
8. Don’t forget to check this site daily –

Upcoming Games
Thursday, 7:30 vs. Florida
Saturday, 7:00 @ Toronto
Tuesday, 7:00 @ NY Rangers

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sens Game Report - OTT@MON - 4.10.06

(AP PHOTO/CP, Ian Barrett)
Revenge is a dish best served in four games…see you in 11 days, Habitants.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Montreal somehow wins 3-2
Ottawa goals: Spezza (20, pp) on a shot with eyes from the point that found its way through, Heatley (48) on the doorstep banging it in and getting the credit for Eaves’ hard work.
Making Sens(e): Alfredsson, Volchenkov, Smolinski
Not much Sens(e): Schubert, Schaefer
It was over when: A Meszaros shot dribbled wide off of Aebischer’s glove late in the third and time wound down to zero.
It was definitely over when: They announced the three stars and the zamboni came out.
Message in a Molson bottle: This one was probably more frustrating to lose because we really should have come out on top. Solid game by the forwards, plenty of opportunities, and we used speed and the body to win battles. The dark side is that we just lost our fourth in a row, the bright side is that this was a win that got away and we won’t let that happen again.
Courtesy Boxscore:

Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:

1st period – Dany Heatley pros and cons
After having the opportunity to watch the talent of #15 for 78 games now, I think it has been long enough to discuss what he does well and what are areas better left to Alfie and Spezza. We call this a verbal sandwich and the bread slices will be praise and the meat part will be some constructive criticism. Okay, Dany, are you ready? You have 48 goals now, a Senators single-season record, which is amazing considering that those goals are scored after the puck has been on your stick for less than one second on each one of them. That was a slice of praise bread. Now, Dany, your stickhandling is comparable to Brian McGrattan or Dennis Vial and I think you’d be much MUCH more effective at getting the puck in the zone if you’d just dump it in and follow it instead of trying and failing at handling it around an NHL-caliber defenceman. That was the constructive criticism meat. And Dany, I think you have stepped up as a leader of this team when we need you and I believe you will be a wonderful asset going forward in the playoffs, where we will see your best hockey of the season. Good sandwich. So keep scoring and being a leader, but let Alfie and Spezz stickhandle the puck in now. Sweet. Sweet. Alright.

2nd Period – Are we too good to lose?
In a word – yes. This is a game that we will win in the postseason and a game that we should have won tonight. When the forwards skate hard on the forecheck, we create chances and those chances will be goals. Tonight, we followed the game plan of going in and getting the puck out of their corners and putting it in front of Aebischer. On this night, and in past playoff games, we couldn’t get the puck into the mesh. In all honesty, do you believe that we will have trouble scoring goals in the playoffs? We are simply too strong in too many areas to have outcasts like David Aebischer, Christobal Huet, or John Grahame upset us. Don’t call this game a moral win – we only count the wins that show up in the standings the next morning. But understand that if our forwards play like they did tonight and we stick a couple of familiar faces back on the blue line and perhaps some old fart in between the pipes, then I’m a confident young lad going into the postseason and I suggest you be the same.

3rd Period – Five Predictions that may ruin my short and not very promising career
Below are five thoughts that I have somehow turned into guarantees. It is probably best to keep my mouth shut, but if Eklund can make a website and post blasphemy daily and still attract readers, all I need to do is get one right per year and I’ll be on that fast-track:
1. We have an entirely full lineup for Game 1 of the playoffs. I know this isn’t completely off the wall, but I believe that Phillips will be ahead of schedule and for the first time since mid-December, we will dress our ideal roster – guaranteed.
2. Ottawa will sweep the first round of the playoffs, regardless of whether it is Tampa Bay or Montreal. I’ll take this one step further and say that I would choose to play Montreal and put them in their place. I might just be fired up because I thought we should have won this game, but we are a better team in all facets of the game and that will take over in the postseason – guaranteed.
3. Vaclav Varada is the odd man out when Havlat returns. Some may argue this isn’t a stretch, but remember that it was Eaves that filled in for Mach 9 and it was Varada who was Muckler’s early playoff sandpaper. Varada has been basically irrelevant to our team’s success this year and I don’t think we lose an ounce/gram of sandpaper with him out of the lineup. We are officially a tough team with heart and you simply cannot take Patrick Eaves out of the lineup right now. With a full plethora of weapons, Varada is the odd man out – guaranteed.
4. Carolina is eliminated in the first round. I’ve had enough of the hype surrounding these clowns and am ready to see them go away by the end of April. They are simply not the same team without Eric Cole and they aren’t the same team by adding aging slowpokes Weight and Recchi, both of whom aren’t fitting in and are likely to return to their original teams in the summer. Gerber is nothing more than a hot goalie headed to the Arctic cold and will lead his team to the fine golf courses of Raleigh before the 1st of May – guaranteed.
5. Daniel Alfredsson is the playoff scoring leader. I know the terms ‘Alfredsson’ and ‘playoff guarantee’ isn’t always a smart thing, but this guy is in his absolute prime right now and is one of the best leaders in the NHL. He knows what it feels like to lose and he knows what it takes to win. He also knows the importance of playoff success to the loyal fans of Hockey Country and he will deliver. A reunited pizza line will mean that Captain Alfie will be the leading scorer by the end of the fourth round – guaranteed.

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. Arnason. I’ve got nothing to add here. Apparently, neither does he.
2. Brad Norton threw many more punches in his first period fight this time around, considering he didn’t throw a single one last time. Kudos to the towering goof for sticking up for the hit from behind on Volchenkov. But you’re still going back to Bingo tomorrow.
3. On that note, Redden is on his way back to town and is playing tomorrow and Muck Muck said there is a slight chance Chara joins him in the lineup - and thus returns to a full rack of ribs instead of just the half rack while his appetite was down. Phillips is still skating ahead of schedule and let’s just hope he’s back for Game 1. Mucks went on to say that he hopes Hasek can try and play the Toronto and NY Rangers games to end the regular season. I’d be fine with Dom being Dom for Game 1.
4. Volchenkov was our best defenceman tonight, including timely pokechecks, backchecking, and hits.
5. Too many penalties called in the second period as Don Koharski couldn’t keep the whistle out of his mouth. If he still had that Don Koharski’s All Sports Centre at the Kanata Town Centre, I’d go in there and lower the basketball net and then slam dunk on it in protest, just because I knew it would make him upset. Or maybe steal the air hockey puck. Take that, Koho!
6. Missed a couple of half open nets and hit a couple of posts. Would have liked them to go in.
8. Don’t forget to check this site daily –

Upcoming Games
Tuesday, 7:30 vs. Boston
Thursday, 7:30 vs. Florida
Saturday, 7:00 @ Toronto
Tuesday, 7:00 @ NY Rangers

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sens Game Report - BUF@OTT - 4.8.06

Hi, I’m a panic button…push me, please

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Buffalo wins 6-2
Ottawa goals: Who cares? But for those keeping score at home, Eaves (19, pp) lifting a pass from Alfredsson on the powerplay, Alfredsson (41) putting it into an open right side off a nice pass from Spezza
Making Sens(e): not a single one of them
Not much Sens(e): Spezza, Alfredsson, Heatley, Fisher, Smolinski, Schaefer, Neil, Kelly, Eaves, Varada, Arnason, Vermette, Meszaros, Norton, Novak, Pothier, Schubert, Volchenkov
It was over when: Conolley scored shortly after Eaves tied it up in the first to ensure that we’d never come close again.
It was definitely over when: We allowed guys like Pyatt and McKee to pad their stats and put us down 4-2 mid second period, which has now become too big of a deficit for us to overcome.
Message in a Molson bottle: For the first time, we’ve lost three in a row. Oh yeah, we’ve also given up 20 goals in the last four games. Oh yeah, we’re still without our top three defencemen with playoffs starting in less than two weeks. And when you play as bad as we did tonight, you start worrying about how you once said that this was our year! The performance we turned in tonight, and in the past week, would be swept in the first round of the playoffs. How’s that for a description of the game?
Courtesy Boxscore:

Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:

Don’t push us cause we’re close to the…edge…
Alright folks, with playoffs less than two weeks out, I have decided to begin losing sleep over the state of this team – I suggest you all do the same. Gone are the excuses of injuries and fatigue, here are the questions of whether or not these guys can find the drive and determination to finally win a clutch game. Why are these games important, you ask? Because we are vying for the Eastern Conference title and home ice advantage throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs. Because no team ever wants to back into the playoffs the way we are right now. We need to enter the postseason on a nice little winning streak with the special teams clicking and the lineup healthy. Instead, we are missing too many key ingredients and the remaining pieces are skating around wondering what to do next. And while we are skating around doing nothing, Buffalo scored twice.

Toronto called - they want their lack of leadership back
Sorry, Alfie, big fan, but what are you and the boys up to right now? It was two weeks ago since we sat here and blew smoke into the orifices of these same players for a sound game plan of backchecking and timely scoring. After once taking our breath away, the Sens have changed gears and now skate around with an aimlessness that is rarely seen Hockey Country and is better suited for our friends down the 401. Illness aside, Alfie hasn’t shown the dominating captainship that led us to love earlier this season. In fact, not a single player on our team has really captured our hearts in the past stretch of games. What is troublesome about it is that nobody is taking over a game for us. Nobody acknowledges that these are important wins and that the other players are waiting for someone to step up. Nobody has taken the game into their own hands to the point of turning a loss into a clutch win. Sorry to say it, but this task starts with Alfie. Someone hold his hair back while he gets sick and then lets get back to some winning!

Ottawa Senators 2005-06 – Where are they now?
Always a great read, let’s take a look at some of the Senators players from earlier this season that have really fallen off the radar lately:
Brian Smolinski – We remember Smoke for being very inconsistent in his style of play and going back and forth between the quality of a third liner and a first liner. Smolinski is now hiding on Ottawa’s third line and doing absolutely nothing with his game.
Peter Schaefer – once known as the top boards stick handler in the conference, we remember Schaefer for being the guy that let Fisher and Havlat take the shots. Schaefs has now resolved to working the puck into the corner and then kicking it around until the opponent decides to clear it out and leave him behind.
Vaclav Varada – Varada was originally brought to Ottawa as the sandpaper for a playoff run and we remember him for being forgettable. Varada has spent the past season disappearing further into oblivion while still managing to find icetime with what was once thought to be the Eastern Conference champions.
Tyler Arnason – Arnie was brought to Ottawa at the trade deadline with the hopes of fulfilling our gap for a scoring centre on the second line. We won’t remember Arnason for much of anything and will do our best to get rid of him the first chance we get. I gave this kid the benefit of the doubt for a month and he has done nothing to earn anything other than the harsh opinion of the demanding fans of Hockey Country. Arnie is a bust.

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. The Pizza Line looked like it had been left in the pizza box on the counter all night and looked too crusty and gross the next day to heat up in the microwave. First game back together and besides the one goal they mustered together, they were off.
2. I hate to say it, but Fisher had a tough time tonight. This is a bad time to be losing his shot.
3. Volchenkov has taken on the role of the dude that can’t keep a puck in at the blue line on the powerplay. Not the role you want to play.
4. Emery pulled for Morrison in the second period – I hope we can give him more of a night off than 30 minutes on the bench after letting in a four-spot. Until Dom gets in a game, we still need to begin preparing for Emery in between the pipes in the first round.
5. Brad Norton needs to go away and not come back to this team ever.
6. Fisher/Smolinski/Schaefer finished the night at a modest minus-7. Not too shabby.
7. Too upset to make any Chara-ribs references. Sorry.
8. The one bright spot with the results of tonight – I predict that it will be in our hands to mathematically eliminate Toronto next weekend.
9. Hasek skated in goalie equipment today. Havlat should get clearance next Monday. Phillips has skated the last two days. Chara is ready to go as soon as he can get his hand to grip the stick. And Redden is anybody’s guess.
10. Don’t forget to check this site daily –

Upcoming Games
Monday, 7:30 @ Montreal
Tuesday, 7:30 vs. Boston
Thursday, 7:30 vs. Florida
Saturday, 7:00 @ Toronto