Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ahhh, Fishsticks!

A short rant here. I'll preface this with a statement, like I typically do: I think Mike Fisher is a terrific hockey player. There, I said it.

But let's make one thing clear - he isn't going to score 164 goals this season. He isn't even going to score 30 goals this season. It doesn't matter if he plays centre or plays the wing, or if he's flanked by Regin, Spezza, or Gretzky c. 1987. Mike Fisher is not a goal scorer. Sure, he has an incredible wrist shot that can pick a corner from 20 feet out and sure, he has a knack for the crease. But he doesn't have the full set of tools to use that wrist shot AND go to the crease AND have the hand-eye coordination and balance to take a pass and fire it home. At least, he doesn't have the set of tools to do that 30 times in one season.

I'm as excited as anyone that he had a pair of nice pre-season games, but let's be honest with ourselves. He scored a hat trick against the AHL Habs and he scored another goal against the ECHL Lightning. He signed a big contract not because he has 30 goals a year in him, but because he's the heart and soul, crash and bang player that we want to clone on the third and fourth line (albeit at a much cheaper cap hit). Quoting Bryan Murray, "Peter Regin has turned Mike into a scoring machine." Thanks, BM, for the segue into Regin.

I think Peter Regin is a solid hockey player, possibly even an NHL calibre player. Without question, he has earned the right to start the season in Ottawa. It doesn't take an insider to figure out that Regin has made this team since Murray himself has said this. But pardon me if I'm not ready to get a Regin jersey just yet. The dude has skated in 4 of our 5 preseason games. Let's break down that sentence - he has played in four games! Next, we've only played 5 games total! And finally, they are preseason! I would be absolutely thrilled if the kid bangs out a solid 82 games as a second line centre, or even a third line centre and continues to average 4-5 shots a game. Hell, he makes his wingers into scoring machines!

I'm not a Debbie Downer. In fact, I'm a terrible homer, overly passionate about this team and overly optimistic about our chances this season. If you've read this blog, you know that I take the aggressive projections for all of these players. But I just hope we're all keeping our feet on the ground when it comes to this new power couple of Fisher and Regin. Mike Fisher is a 45-point player that plays a two-way game and has eyes that the girls of Ottawa (and Don Cherry) adore. No more, no less. While I think Spezza should get the alternate captain, it is clear that Fisher is going to be sporting it come October 3rd and I'm fine with it. But let's not get our panties in a bundle over a pair of nice nights from him on the scoresheet. Ditto Peter Regin. The last thing we need to do is Bochenski this kid in the city and build a hype around him that will be impossible to fulfill on a nightly basis. Peter Regin should start out as a third line centre and his goals should be modest - play 70 games and get 30-35 points. If he can pull that off, I would call it our best rookie performance in years (before you google it, Foligno had 9 points in 45 games in his rookie year and we were satisfied).

One more time - I'm pumped that Regin will start the year here and I'd love to see him stay the entire season. But please understand that to expect him and Fisher to blow past modest stat projections is unfair to them and will be devastating to us as fans. At the same time, don't be shocked if Regin stumbles a bit and requires a bit more seasoning in Bingo. It isn't a knock on him. Spezza did it, too. You play with the big boys for a bit and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you ride the limo 5 hours to the B-Sens where you can work on your weaknesses in a relatively consequence-free environment (sorry, Binghamton fans). Spezza did it, Foligno did it, Lee is doing it now, and Karlsson might do it. Regin is no different.

I hope I'm wrong and he and Fisher and Kovalev blow minds as a second line. Realistically, though, I see him in Binghamton in November to iron out the kinks. Second line centres don't just appear out of your recently brutal minor league program (the Murrays are improving it, but it has a few more years).

Am I wrong? Is Regin the real deal? Light it up, fans! You're on the air...


Adam said...

I think Regin might actually be able to hold his own. We do have a past of our minor leaguers not performing through an entire season, a.k.a. Bochenski, but I think he may be able to hold his own. I think you are right, he may not be the stellar star that we are hoping Fish/Regin will eventually turn out to be, but I think he plays a better game then Winch every played. Sorry Winch, although you are from my hometown we have too many role players like you around. Either way I see Regin being a better scoring center then Kelly.

Master Of Puppets said...

Other organizations have had gems come out of nowhere - Bolland, Brassard, Versteeg. I know they were probably touted and had similar or higher expectations, so maybe to their faithful they weren't surprises.

But I think we're due. We've had elevated expectations of players only to have them disappoint, Eaves, Bochenski, Shastlivy, Lee etc.

Bottom line is with all these guys there is risk, you can scout the shit out of them and say yeah this ones gold or that ones gonna be great, but they can wind up like Daigle, Wickenheiser or Falloon. There's an unknown - you don't know where in a players development he is. Everyone assumes they all have the same potential (for growth above where they are now). Which is a mistake. Sometimes a gifted player at his current level is near the top of his potential and will hit the plateau sooner rather than later. Then you get guys like Zetterberg, or Alfredsson.

Sometimes you gotta take the chance. If Regin sticks and his best is 3rd line Centre, if he works well with Fisher, Foligno and they each have 20 goal 40 point seasons (to go with +10 +/-), then that's a bloody coup.

It's going to boil down to chemistry - we thought the Foligno Fisher Shannon line was da bomb last year. Now Shannon is out and Regin the stud.

The positive here is that it looks like any combination of Fisher and Foligno with Shannon or Regin looks deadly. As long as any one of them can click with Kovalev and Cheechoo, then we've got 2 middle lines that can kill.

I'm hopeful the team is going to be consistent on a game by game basis. They don't have to tear it up like the start of 07-08, just play hard and be "in" all games. The odd pizza night doesn't hurt, but you don't want to see em steamroll 20 games then run out of gas late, barely make the playoffs and get bounced in 4.

Wonder how close tomorrow night's lineup will be to the opening night?

Sacul said...

Of course many of us faithful Sens fans are worried Regin will get a case of Bochenskitis. However he's a lazy guy that couldn't get motivated by three different organizations. Regin shows more promise, but you can never tell until they face real players at NHL speed and get squished by some monster like Chara or Pronger a few times. I'd bet that the great Dane won't disappoint.
Fisher's issues are between his ears and behind those dreamy eyes (barf) as opposed to his concrete mitts. When he gets confident, he gets ugly goals in bunches and a few pretty ones to boot. He just might be due for the 25-30 goals we all know he has in him.
I think the issue will be who plays with Cheechoo because he'll be nothing more than a solid checker with a good attitude but slow feet.

GelatinousMutantCoconut said...

I'm just happy that there's hope in Ottawa again. Fans are exited.

Derrick1 said...

My Regin jersey is already on pre-order! he he.

Adam said...

I agree Master of Puppets. Hopefully Regin has not hit his plateau, hard to tell as there is a small number of Danish in the league. Hockey is not really their game. Regin has played for Swedish leagues for a bit though and hopefully that will help his game all around and by all means hope he does not get squashed by any chara. With his speed he will definitely cause trouble for some bigger players.

I would rather have 3 decent lines then 1 really good line anyday. Gone are the days of Heatley who? That makes me a happy fan, and I know our organisation is better for it. Here is to BM keeping his guns and holding out. Previous GM's would have taken less. He took a lot of slack last year for his coaching staff decisions but I believe Murray is making right decisions now. I do not remember last time we have had so many prospects breaking through our vets. Time we started looking like a younger time in my opinion. Faster and better.

Nurbel said...

Good points. I'm happy to show patience with these guys and ease them in. I am even ok with sending Karlsson down after a taste of NHL action (7 or 8 games). If he doesn't go back to Sweden then bring him back up after some AHL time around Xmas or the Olympic break. Maybe by then we can trade some other D (Picard, Schubert)after they bring their value back up with some regular icetime.

If Regin makes the team great but ideally we give Zubov a bit of a chance too this year if Regin falters. Both players are RFAs at the end of the year and are candidates for jumping ship to the KHL next year. Zubov is a bigger risk obviously. I think that it is important to keep these assets viable and hungry.

We may need both of them and their cheap contracts for filling our roster next year if the cap goes down. If the cap goes down we could be in a situation where dollars force us to buy out guys and ice a team with Zubov, Regin, Smith, Karlsson, Cowen, Lee, Winchester, and Picard maybe. That would be a pretty raw mix to ice at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I was at the game last Saturday, and I believe Regin can skate with the best of them. This is more or less what Clouston is saying. Regin can keep pace.

But I have been saying the same thing Master of Puppets is saying. It comes down to chemistry! if you don't have any, you tend to do things on your own, and we know that gets you no where. If you do have it, the other guys are better as well.

The neat thing about the Sens now is that Clouston has "options", funny me saying that, since you know who left town, but other teams are not going to get the same look every night. Clouston can mix and match 8 top 6 forwards now, and there is no more "#1" line to shut down.

Oh, and btw, our goalie tandem looks great. Especially Leclaire.

Should be an exciting season. Just bought my season tickets, and I can't wait!!!!

Go Sens Go!