Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Good Time for a Change

As Mr. Geoffrey Tiberious Cheek informed you all in the previous post - the lines are going to be a little different tonight. I am indifferent to the change and expect a successful game for Alfredsson and Spezza - but Heatly on the other hand - that's a different story. Heatly is a pure goal scorer. He has never been a creator and never will be. Ive never admired players like this but they can be effective if they have a highly skilled player to get them the puck. Dany has always been blessed with a number of elite level plyers on his line (Kovalchuk, Spezza, Savard, Alfredsson) and tonight, for the first time, he will be playing with a rag-tag group of players. Antoine Vermette, although speedy, has never shown that he can playmake consitantly and although I admire Chris Kelly's work ethic - his hands leave alot to be desired. I expect Heatly to flounder tonight and be immediadtly re-paired with Spezza next game.


My trade rumor record has been pedestrian at best but the winds of change are blowing in Philly. Darien Hatcher is being offerd up to anyone who will listen and to quote Ed Snyder "Nobody is safe on this team". Now nobody is going to take Hatcher or Rathje of their hands so expect Hitchcock to be fired by mid-week if the Flyers continue to struggle.

What to expect tonight...

So we head into our fifth home game looking for our first home win against the New Jersey Devils tonight. Understandably, Coach Murray has split up the Pizza Line in an attempt to find a pulse in our forwards. As of this morning, Ottawa sits in last place and our leading scorer is Dany Heatley with 5 points in six games. Alfredsson and Spezz, his former linemates, have 4 and 3 points, respectively. Our 'secondary line' (Mike Fisher - 0 points, minus-4; Peter Schaefer - 0 points, minus-4; Antoine Vermette - 1 point, minus-1) and our 'top defence pairing' (Wade Redden, 0 points, minus-2; Andrej Meszaros, 0 points, minus-5) are having some trouble, as well. After getting booed off the ice 48 hours ago, how will Spezza and the Sens come out tonight?

In Thursday's game, the puck was in the Colorado zone for the first three minutes of the first period before we ran out of steam and dogged it for the rest of the game. I'd like to see if it is in the genetics of this lineup for them to sustain that kind of pressure for 60 minutes. The difference between Ottawa and a team like Buffalo is that the latter will skate HARD for every single loose puck. Every single one. Do you know who skates the hardest for the Sabres? Daniel Briere, their captain. Do you know who skates the hardest for the Senators? Dean McAmmond, a late free agent pickup to fill spots on the second and third lines as necessary. Until our top six forwards start skating like the Sabres, we'll stay in our funk and continue to get booed. It isn't one player in particular who can step up their game and change the outcome of the game. It needs the blood and guts of all 12 forwards to win in this league now. I dearly hope that the Pizza Line toppings are humiliated and pissed off at their performance thus far.

I also want to put a little cap on the Sabres celebrations, though, before we crown them as champs after their 7-0 start. I remember a team that was close for a while, then lost a heartbreaking Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 to the eventual Cup winner, and then started a season 7-0. I remember that team well. They ended up losing in the second round in five games. Just remember that as we watch the Sabres this season, and be sure to enjoy tonight's Sens/Devils game.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Pinch of Pynch - Chara vs. Redden

In our first installment from our guest blogger, Jeff Lynch, a Pinch of Pynch analyzes what will soon be known as the biggest question of the year for Ottawa: Did we sign the right All-Star defenceman? Here it is and as always, comments are appreciated:

It’s a question that was posed as early as July 2006, and will likely be asked, dissected and criticized for weeks, months and years to come – did the Ottawa Senators sign the right All-Star defenceman.

In response to this highly voiced question, as posed this morning by Mr. Cheek, my personal short answer is no.

Before I begin, allow me to make a few things clear. I am no hockey expert, far from it in fact. The only regular season Sens games I get to watch are those carried by Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights, in Toronto mind you, and the ones I catch when I’m home sweet home in the Nation’s Capital. However, I am a Sens fan. A true, dedicated Sens fan. I listen to the team on the Team and spend most mornings at work reading articles on our beloved rouge et or…et noir. Alright, get it? Got it? Good. Now for my long answer. Here we go.

Wade Redden. Ottawa’s golden boy. I used to have a very jaded perception of Reds. You see, when I lived in Ottawa I actually did see just about every game possible. I also listened to post game shows and read daily Citizen articles and editorials. Different games led to different expert opinions and comments, but Wade’s performance was the one consistent. He was always a star, and when he wasn’t first, second or third star, he was fourth star. He couldn’t make a mistake, even when he blatantly did. Again, Ottawa’s golden boy. But I’ll stop right there, take a deep breath, and continue.

It was when I moved to Toronto, away from the bombardment of the Ottawa sports media that my thoughts and feelings changed. I realized I disliked Reds only because the media loved him so. Without having to hear his overwhelming praises enabled me to make my own assessments. Sure he still made mistakes, but I no longer had to hear that they weren’t his fault. I started appreciating his assets without them being blown out of proportion. Hey, this guy’s pretty damn good.

That leads me to my current state of affairs. I like Reds. Sure he gets caught pinching often and can be known to cough up the puck, but these plays do not nearly outweigh his positives. He is one of the top defensemen in the league and I’m glad he’s in Ottawa, but…

That brings me to the 6’9”, 290lb, rib eating, father wrestling, Tour de France route cycling Zdeno Chara. Hey Zdeno, you’re awfully tall, but aside from a long reach, what other assets do you have in the game of hockey? Let’s see…. He’s strong, he’s mobile, he has a cannon from the point, he’s physical, he’s tough, he’s mean, he can’t be moved from the front of the net, he’s well positioned and he’s a leader. Now, Wade Redden is also many of those things, but he’s not all of those things.

If I have to pick on Chara for anything, it’s that some games he can appear slow and gets beat much too often. That used to drive me nuts. Perhaps it’s the altitude – that thin air around his head could leave him dazed from time to time – but some games he would certainly look like the weaker of the two players in question…but not always and not often.

Unfortunately, it was impossible to resign two of the NHL’s best in the same year. I’d like to pass blame on John Ferguson Jr. for signing mysteriously well perceived Bryan McCabe for roughly $5.5 Million a year and thus setting the bar for defensemen salaries, but face it, Reds and Chara are both franchise players and whether they signed for $6, $6.5 or $7 there was no way we were keeping both.

So, as we’re all well aware, John sunk Eugene’s money into Wade. With such an offensive powerhouse, it seemed to make sense to stick with the guy who can make that tape to tape first pass transitioning our boys from the defensive zone and onto the attack, the guy who is capable of 80 points a year, the guy who looks better on the cover of a Score Magazine. But I don’t buy it. Let me tell you why.

After the first quarter of last season, the Globe and Mail alluded to the Sens as possibly being the best team ever. They were virtually unstoppable at the time because they were the entire package. Not only were their stars scoring and they’re wondergoalie flip, floppin’ and savin’, but they were mean. For once, finally, the Sens put fear into their opponents. Don’t step out of line or you’ll have to deal with Neil, McGratton and the toughest of them all, Chara. This let the offense do their thing without repercussion. For some unknown reason, that mind set went away. McGratton found a regular seat in the press box, but more importantly that fierce toughness was replaced by a country club type atmosphere. It was ‘dipsy doodle, hope this works’ as opposed to crash, bang and clear the path for the goals. I’m certainly digressing here, but I assure you it’s connected, so let me get back to my point.

At the beginning of this year, Murray insisted that the Sens were going to carry a blue-collar, lunch box attitude. Back to basics. Don’t mess with Texas, er, Ottawa. Yes!, I thought, what a concept! It worked last year for half a season, let’s bring it back and not forget it. Let’s be mean. Let’s be tough. And who can spark that attitude and style of play – our very own Zdeno Chara! Oh, wait. He’s gone. He’s the captain of a division rival. He’s installing fear at the TD Banknorth Garden. He’s parked in front of the net on Boston’s powerplay. He’s gone.
I’ve seen Redden drop the gloves before and hold his own, if not give a bit of a beating. He’s tough in his own right, but the key issue is that he does not install fear. Maybe this style of play won’t win the Cup. Did Carolina install fear? No. Does Buffalo install fear? No. And that’s fine. And I may be wrong. But, I like that style of play. And Ottawa was winning playing that style.

Bottom line – Ottawa would have been better off with Chara. In my mind, he’s more of a Norris candidate and I believe he’s more valuable to an all around game. They’re both great players and I’m happy to have at least one of them on the ice, but give me Chara any day.

And now I’m spent. I’m going to grab some ribs. Have a good weekend.

- Pynch

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sens Game Report - Colorado @ Ottawa - 10.19.2006

It’s official – we’re lazier than Tyler Arnason

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Colorado wins 2-1
Ottawa Goals:
- Heatley (1), yay, scores his first on a wrist shot on a pass from his boyfriend
Making Sens: DMac, Corvo
Lacking Sens: Spezza, Heatley, Alfredsson, Fisher, Schaefer, Phillips, Redden
It was over when: Colorado scored shorthanded and reminded Ottawa fans that a powerplay for us typically means a goal for them.
It was definitely over when: Spezza and Phillips took back-to-back penalties in the third, negating a powerplay and keeping us shorthanded until just a little over two minutes were left.
Message in a Molson bottle: I don’t make guarantees anymore. We skate like a five-year old on the Rideau Canal and expect to win battles for pucks when in reality the puck is already in the next zone by the time we coast over. We didn’t deserve to be in this game as Colorado outplayed us for 60 minutes, mostly by skating harder than us. It amazes me that a team as talented as Ottawa can continue to phone in the game from their homes.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Saturday hosting New Jersey. Can we change that to a road game?..

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

The Good

- Dean McAmmond was our best forward once again and actually was our second best defenceman, too. This guy is the best third liner in the league, bar none. He is the fastest guy on the team (I don’t guarantee it, but I’m curious how he’ll stack up against Vermette at the skills competition when we pretend to be fast for a few hours), and works all three zones better than anyone on the ice. He actually blew by a defenceman to get a great scoring chance, skated around and picked up a rebound and setup another scoring opportunity, and then was the second guy backchecking on the ensuing Colorado rush. Maybe he should tell his secrets to Spezza. And Heatley. And Alfredsson, Fisher, Schaefer, Vermette, Neil, Kaigorodov, Hamel, Kelly, and Eaves. And Schubert for good measure. And then to Spezza once more.
- Joe Corvo is going to get 45 points with this team and be awesome. I’m thrilled that he’ll be here for four years. His shot is awesome, he’s fast, skates hard, is smart with the puck, and is all covered in tatts. Great stuff. He isn't as big as I thought, but his speed and shot will make him an oustanding player for us; a dynamic type of defenceman that we've never had before. Maybe he'll like BBQ ribs!

The Bad

- The Fisher/Schaefer/Vermette line looks like hell. Fisher has been a total non-factor in six games this year in his “breakout season”, Vermette moves great in the neutral zone but completely pulls up in the offensive zone, and Schaefer just skates around in the corners and keeps looking for Havlat streaking in front of the net or something. This line produces ZERO scoring chances because their forecheck never gets out of the corner. As I said last game, I know that it is solid forechecking and it keeps the puck in the opponent’s zone, but the objective is to also open up scoring chances. That part hasn’t happened and as a result, this line has become frustrating to watch. My thinking is that Neil is a far more suitable player here because he can keep up with Fisher and Schaefer and has the tenacity to get in slots and high traffic areas. Meanwhile, Vermette is better suited with McAmmond because they'll skate fast and look for flashes of greatness, relative to a third liners skill. Just a thought...
- Whoever said Wade Redden would be a good captain should watch a tape of tonight’s game. When your team is down, you need to become more aggressive and pinch and try and get back in the game. If you’re Wade Redden, you tone down your intensity and make sure your cruise control is still working. As was the case last season when Alfie was healing his ribs (not BBQ), Redden wasn’t a vocal leader or an exemplary leader. He’ll wear the ‘A’ for the rest of his career, wherever that will be. I hope it is in Ottawa, but rest assured that he won’t be a captain. I love the guy, but what you see is what you get from Redds, so I hope you like what you see.

The Ugly
- Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley haven’t skated hard in six games. As a result, they get booed in their own building. Of course, they are 0-4 in their own building, so what do you expect? I don’t question the talent of these two, but I certainly question their work ethic and their attention to detail and responsibility. Maybe the gravy train has pulled into the station after its final run and now these guys need to manufacture goals instead of just lollygagging their way through to 100 points. Regardless of what the answer is, these two haven’t found it. They'll get their 90-100 points, but it will involve a lot more effort.
- Chris Phillips is playing like shite and to be completely honest, I’d rather have Schubert out there right now and have Philly as our #7 defenceman. Maybe his defensive coverage means that we only ever notice him in his own end so we miss everything he does everywhere else, but I seem to notice him botching plays in all areas of the ice. The time to adapt to the “new NHL” was the first 40-50 games of last season. If, as a professional hockey player, Phillips can’t find his game after over 100 games under the new rules, then I don’t know how he can ask for a raise next summer. Is Brian Lee almost ready?

- The shot count (36-27) tells a story that we lost battles in our own end all night.
- Gerber played quite well, but sees his record drop to 1-3. Watch out for Don Brennan's inevitable article this weekend calling for Muckler's head for signing Gerber.
- Scary statistic of the week: Ottawa’s powerplay has produced one goal and allowed three. To say that we want to decline a powerplay isn’t that much of a joke anymore.
- Chalk up Colorado’s second goal, the shortie, to Dany Heatley for coasting back into the zone and watching Richardson wire it over Gerber’s glove. All Heatley had to do was put his stick out and he could have broken it up. Instead, he watched the winning goal from two feet away. Awesome.

Hosting Colorado tonight

For the first time in NxNE history, I GUARANTEE a win tonight.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The View From Below - a heartfelt rebuttal

The media is said to capture the true pulse of its city. They put together their story through their respective media outlets that "really capture the spirit of the thing." I have the privilege, either fortunate or unfortunate in this case, of being neither a part of the media nor living in the city. This should hopefully lead to an opinion free from the bias of papers and radio and the general masses. It is with this straight-shooting and unbiased mind that I offer my opinion in response the Williams post of the past weekend, as well as general thoughts on what I read in the Ottawa Sun over the past few days.

Let me start by making a personal vow from now until the end of eternity. Never again will I ever utter the expressions, "panic button" or "sense of urgency". I have used both expressions in the past and have grown sick of them. What is a panic button? What does it do? Seriously, what does it mean to push a panic button and what do we expect to happen? Does the rest of the league say, "uh oh, everyone, the Sens pushed the panic button so watch out for them." I'm done with it. And having a sense of urgency - why can't we just refer to that as playing to our potential? We are a very talented team that wins games and loses games and the season is full of ups and downs. Is there point in a game or in a stretch of games that we need to have a sixth sense, a sense of urgency, where all of a sudden our game just becomes that much better? "Oh boy, the Senators seem to have discovered a new sense, move out of the way and let them by" If there is a series of other levels that we can raise our game to, then why were we playing so poorly in the first place? No more sense of urgency. Mr. Williams wants you to have a sense of urgency about our Sens and he wants you to push down with two hands on this magical panic button that makes public all our team's problems. I beg you - resist the temptation and stay the course. Here's why:

1. The goaltending controversy of our minds.
Martin Gerber makes a lot more money than Ray Emery. Ray Emery had a better training camp than Martin Gerber. The comparisons need to stop there. John Muckler paid what he had to in order to get us a bona fide goaltender in Gerber and he paid what he had to in order to retain the services of Emery. The only controversy between these two is the one fabricated in your morning newspaper, my friends. Do you think Ray Emery and Martin Gerber fight over a sew-on patch that says #1 Goalie every day at practice? Of course not, silly. These guys are both fierce competitors and they both want to help their team win games. Whether or not we the fans want to give out a title of #1 goalie is irrelevant. They are both capable of being the go-to guy for extended periods of time and our coach is going to start which ever one has the best chance of helping us win that specific game. Has Ray Emery stolen the job? What is there to steal? He is going to play in games so long as he gives us a chance to win games. Take a look at last year's final four: Buffalo's Martin Biron rattled off twelve straight wins as the backup to Ryan Miller, Carolina's Cam Ward sat on the bench all year and flipped that around to a Stanley Cup MVP when Gerber went down sick, Edmonton reopened its hearts to Jussi Markannen when Roloson got hurt in the Finals, and Anaheim went back and forth between Giguerre and Byzgalof throughout the postseason. My point is that from October through June, the coach's job is to put in nets the guy that will give your team the best chance to win. There is no lost job and there is no controversy in Ottawa; all that is happening is that Emery has played two solid games in a row. This will only make Martin Gerber a better player. It's the circle of life. I'd also like to add that it was funny how the Sun's Don Brennan wrote after last year's season that Muckler had let us down at the trade deadline by not acquiring a goalie to replace Hasek, but writes over the weekend that Emery should have been named our outright starting goalie. This isn't fantasy hockey, guys.

2. Oh Captain, My Captain
"Daniel Alfredsson's career in Ottawa has hit a wall". Bite your tongue, Ottawa, and believe me I'd rather be using much harsher words. Your loyalty to your beloved captain runs no longer than a minority government, it seems. There is a difference between a passionate fan that wants your team to win and being a crazy fan that wants to blow the roster up after each loss. Daniel Alfredsson is the consummate professional that we rarely see anymore, not just in hockey but in professional sports. He is one of the most respected guys among the league's players and has more class and integrity than just about any other captain in the NHL. Write that down. Whether you believe it or not, he puts more effort into his game and more pressure on himself than anyone else in that dressing room. Has he failed to deliver a Stanley Cup even though he has been the captain of great teams? Absolutely. Have dozens and dozens of other captains (Canadian and European alike) failed at the same goal? You bet. This guy is highly respected in the dressing room and will be vindicated at some point in his NHL career - and I just hope that is in Ottawa. Considering how we treat the guy in the papers and in our own building, it is amazing that he still wants to be our captain. We play a home game and he is showered with boos. We travel to Montreal where we don't really even have a rivalry and all you heard when he touched the puck in the first period: "le booooooo. le hisssssssss." I think the Sun's Erin Nicks was in one of these crowds, planning her next article that rang similar to a Brennan-esque travesty demanding drastic measures be taken after our horrifying 2-3 start that has no doubt ruined our season.

Why do people dislike Daniel Alfredsson? Why do people love Mats Sundin? What the hell is the difference? Have either made it to the Stanley Cup Finals? "Oh, but Sundin scored in overtime on Saturday and he is the true leader of that team when they need him the most." Didn't they need him the most when they played Carolina in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002? Where has he been when they needed him the most? Does that mean he doesn't have leadership qualities after all? Who the frig are we to measure intangibles like that, anyway? If our ship wrecked on a desert island and me and ten others had to vote on who would be our leader to help us get off the island, and our choices were Sundin and Alfie, why would I be the only one choosing the smaller Swede? I mean, for all we know, Sundin might go off to the other side of the island and build himself a mansion and not let us in, because he's the private type, you know. How do we really know that one is a better leader than the other when they play in two completely different environments and neither have succeeded in winning a Cup? My end point on this ridiculous tangent is that Alfredsson is our captain and he is an amazing leader that works his ass off out there and faces the music each and every time we come up short. He WILL lead this team to a title. If you still want to trade him away and take on a fresh look, ask Mike O'Connell how that worked for him in Boston when he traded Thornton, the face of the franchise, for a new attitude. Long story short - Daniel Alfredsson will never wear a different jersey in his NHL career and we should be thanking our lucky stars.

3. We're in a freefall and there is no sign of the end
Alright, it's time for review. What did we say in April and May earlier this year about the season? We said, "the regular season doesn't mean anything, the playoffs is all that counts." Now fast forward to Friday morning and Sunday morning and today and tomorrow. What are we saying now? "This team is struggling and we need a major shakeup if we want to win games." Now go back and read what we said in April again. Now back to yesterday's comment. What am I getting at, you ask? How can our city be so disheveled over a 2-3 start in the regular season when mere months earlier we swore that the regular season was a waste of seven months? Does anybody really think that this team won't make the playoffs? Does anyone really think Heatley will finish the year with no goals? Does anyone really think Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer won't score and that Martin Gerber won't see another game? It's time to take a step back, focus on what we need to tweak, and enjoy the opportunity to watch this season's team work through its growing pains. I'd rather Heatley be scoreless now than later, for instance.

I absolutely agree that it is the right of each and every fan to express their concerns and to demand more of their star players. Heck, I do the same after every single game. But to put a full-court press on management and the players and say that Muckler and Murray's jobs are on the line and trade winds are blowing through the capital is just silly. What bothers me so much about it is that it is that very same attitude that our foes down the 401 possess. How can we make fun of their chaotic demeanour if we've taken on the same persona? These Ottawa Senators have NOT let us down at every turn, as my co-blogger wants you to believe. They have been one of the most successful teams of the past decade, showing amazing skill and talent and taking us on an amazing ride. There is one more thing we want to accomplish with our gang and rest assured that in the near future, if you are still waving our flag, you can come and celebrate a Stanley Cup with us. This team, led by Daniel Alfredsson and backed by solid goaltending, will find a way to win the trophy that we dream of. Have patience and learn to appreciate the amazing team that we have here in Ottawa. The stars will be stars and the role players will fulfill their roles and the defencemen will be defensive and the goalies will stand on their heads. If the regular season means nothing to us, then just sit back and enjoy watching this group learn together and soon excel together. Just don't judge an 82-page book by its first five pages.

I end by restating Mr. Williams' closing arguments for the amusement of the crowd:
- Alfredsson has been mediocre at best
- Heatley is invisible
- Gerber has lost his swagger
Five games, guys. That's all we've played so far. Someone tell Mr. Williams to get his hand off the panic button.


Sens Game Report - 10.14.2006 - Ottawa @ Montréal

A win is a win. We deserved this one in regulation, but some small child mugged Spezza before the game and dressed in his place.

Also, check back Monday night for my scathing rebuttal to the Williams fiasco currently listed below this game report. Scroll down.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Ottawa wins 3-2 in a shootout
Ottawa Goals:
Hamel (1) the hard way banging away in front of the net
Kelly (1) on a nice feed through the crease from Eaves to respond to the Higgins goal.
Shootout: Vermette scores, McAmmond is stopped, Fisher scores to win
Making Sens: Emery, Neil, Redden, McAmmond, Kelly, Eaves, Kaigorodov
Lacking Sens: Spezza, Fisher, Schaefer
It was over when: The almighty Koivu was stopped as the second skater in the shootout for Montreal.
It was definitely over when: Fisher potted the second goal in the shootout to ice it.
Message in a Molson bottle: Defensively solid and far too reliant on the third and fourth lines for spark and scoring. The top two lines need to be buying some BBQ rib dinners for the rest of the forwards for getting them out of Montreal with a divisional win. For the second game in a row, Emery showed that he deserves the time in nets.
Courtesy Boxscore:
Next Game: Thursday night hosting Colorado

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

The Good
- We officially have a great goaltending tandem. Yay. Now before you wipe that beer off your face and tell me why Gerber sucks and Emery should be our number one, let me interrupt. I completely agree that Emery deserves the ice time right now – he is playing great hockey with a lot of confidence. Coach Murray is perfectly right in playing the guy that is winning games, without a doubt. Right now, that guy is Ray Emery. But remember this, dear friend: we didn’t sign Martin Gerber for $3.7M a year to not play. He is the #1 guy and right now he is getting time on the bench while our backup is hot. Case closed. Write that down.
- I like Dean McAmmond a lot. I’ve mentioned something about his skating and his vision just about every game so far because he just seems to be our most comfortable skater out there. It’s not like I enjoy writing his name. In fact, it’s pretty annoying having to do that capital M, then the lower case c and then back to a capital A. But so long as he keeps playing well and skating hard every single shift, he’ll get air time. From now on, we shall call him D-Mac. Original, eh?
- Fourth line was great, third line was pretty solid, too. I like Eaves, Kelly, and Kaigorodov on the fourth in one of these less physical games. I feel like all four of our lines can score goals.

The Bad
- Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer are exciting hockey players. They work hard and throw their bodies around to make the play. But they spend so much frigging time cycling in the corners and working on the perimeter in regular 5-on-5 play, they rarely get any good scoring opportunities. I think it is great forechecking, but the whole point of it is to pry the puck loose and get high percentage shots on goal. It’s not like Vermette is going to park himself in front of the net and wait for their pass, so these three will just work the perimeter, which is something 29 opposing defenses are completely fine with.

The Ugly
- In my opinion, this was Jason Spezza’s worst game in the Bryan Murray regime. His passes were so far off target and so obvious that I’m not so sure they even would have worked in the OHL where Spezza seemed to belong tonight. Thursday it was Heatley, this time Spezza. Should we expect Alfredsson to phone it in on Thursday or are these three actually going to try and get a goal. If they haven’t figured it out yet, these three can’t expect the points to fall onto their sticks anymore. Spezza needs to forget this one, learn from the passing mistakes in our own end, and focus on making some magic this week.

- Alexei Kaigorodov is pretty fun to watch, except in the faceoff circle and in the corners. And in front of the net. All in all, though, it was a decent showing for his first actual NHL game and he managed to put an assist in there on Kelly’s goal. He may not have known about it, though, since second assists are merely a campfire legend in his native Russia.
- Talk about spreading your icetime around, the shortest amount of time one of our guys had on the ice was Neil at 10:04, and that is because he had 7 minutes in penalties! That’s a team effort right there.
- Powerplay is shut down again but I liked the way they moved the puck in the third period. At any given point, we’ll start netting them at a 50% rate just to get back into the top 5 in the league. For those keeping score, we went into the game ranked 28th and then went 0-for-5.