Friday, November 27, 2009

Who Should Stay and Who Should Go

Update (1:58pm) - As reported on Silver Seven, Lee has been sent down. That answers the question below, right? Wrong! Erik Karlsson has been called up as A-Train will still not be ready. Can anyone take a stab at explaining this move? I thought Lee was going to be the odd man out, but why bring Karlsson up only to likely be sent back when Volchenkov's ready? Or, does Murray think that Karlsson's ready to take the next step and Picard is the odd man out? More defensive puzzles on this fine Friday...

First off, I already feel like to owe Jesse Winchester an apology. Before the season started, I played a little fortune telling on the expected production from our forwards. I won't bother adding the link as I don't want to easily expose my mistakes...and I certainly made some. I expected Spezza to fly out of the gate and have his best season ever, while I didn't expect Fisher to finally get his act together and become a "Scoring Machine". Oops. But, hey, mistakes happen! Right, Nic Cage?

The one prediction I'm feeling bad about this week is that I said Winchester couldn't make it full time in the show. I expected him to play well in Bingo but never get a good enough chance to be called up and make a valuable impact. Double oops.

After watching the past two games, it looks to me as if Winnie belongs. He's playing great! Working hard, winning battles and creating chances. After being injured at the beginning of the season, I figured he would never claw his way back to Ottawa's competitive 3rd and 4th lines. But, he's easily fitting into Clouston's system and making the best of his opportunity with the club.

I love what I'm seeing! Keep it up Jesse! And, I'm sorry...

With Winchester's recent play, it's going to make it hard for early season fan fave Chum Donovan to make it back in. That's a ways a way, so no need to start that debate.

Segue into the more looming debate!

A-Train should be, should be, back soon and hitting every rookie in sight. I for one, can't wait. In his absence, the Sennies have played very strong hockey taking them to 1st in the NorthEast (well, at least for today). Does this mean Volchenkov will have a tough time getting back in the line up? Will the Leafs make the playoffs? Is Duff better than me? The answer to all the above is obviously no.

So what happens with #24 is ready to come back? There needs to be an odd man out, but who? For me, it's a death match between Picard and Lee. I almost added Campoli's name to the hit list but I feel like he's coming around after a sluggish start, I don't want to see him go. Typically, I'd be ready to send Picard back to the buses, but I'm surprising myself when I think he's played well enough to deserve an extended chance. (Not to mention, he could be a nice addition to a trade, so long as he doesn't completely stink it up). And so, I'm left with choosing our blonde wonder to take the trip back to the Bingo hall, er, Binghamton. I still don't want to give up on Lee, but patience is growing thin.

As we welcome back Volchenkov (whenever that may be), who do you think should go? Do you agree? Disagree? Or should Murray pursue a trade?

You're the GM today...GO!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two Must Read Hockey Articles

In light of the 4-game winning streak and the ridiculous news of Pascal's broken jaw (okay, so maybe he is accident prone...), here are two must-read articles.

The first has been out for a while (last April) and I think the good fellas over at 6th Sens and Ottawa Start have already referenced it. It is a piece from Bruce Firestone's blog about why they chose Kanata for the Palladium/Corel Centre/Scotiabank Place. In light of the complaints lately about the poor Sens attendance and the reminders of how long a drive it is, this article sheds some light on that decision. Bruce even references the parking/traffic situation. I remember as a kid growing up in Kanata, I had the chance to meet Bruce and even played a bit of street hockey with him and his son with a buddy of mine. He was a terrific person and judging by some of his other blog entries, he's pretty brilliant, too. Have a read here.

The second article is from one of my favourite writers, John Buccigross. We had a Q&A with Bucci over the summer, prior to him taking nationwide heat for telling hockey fans that Heatley was involved in a three-way trade with SJ and LA. There were two ways to look at his story - one is that he said it was a done deal, which makes him wrong; and the other way is that he said Heatley would be a SJ Shark by the weekend, which was right. Either way, Bucci is an incredible hockey writer and it is sad to watch him on Sportscenter having to sound interested in the reasons why the Notre Dame Irish suck. Anyway, Bucci blogs twice a week on and has put up a phenomenal piece on Brian Burke's son, who is a gay hockey man with Miami University of Ohio. As much as I dislike Burkie's status now as the Leafs GM, this is a truly touching story of the Burke family. Check it out.

Use these as a diversion while you wait for the NJ and Columbus games on Wednesday and Thursday.

Go Sens Go.

pascal out 4 weeks

Broken jaw, likely needs surgery, out 4 weeks. The Other Brodeur is up.

File this under 'are you kidding me'.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Apologies to Mike Fisher

Another game against a contender, another win, and another strong performance from Mike 'Scoring Machine' Fisher. What made this game even more interesting was that just moments before Fisher incredibly batted a pass out of mid air and bunted it past Varlamov, it was our expected top scorer Jason Spezza that couldn't bury a golden two-on-one pass from Alfredsson.

Prior to the season, Pynch had a piece up here asking who should wear the A in Ottawa this year. For a few reasons, I said it should be Spezza over Fisher. My main point was that one of the key characteristics of a leader is someone that can take the team on his back and win a game. Going into this season, I didn't think Mike Fisher was capable of doing that. Sure, he could swing momentum in our favour with a big hit or a strong shift. But did anyone think that he would lead the team in game-winning goals (4) and overtime goals (2)?

This isn't meant as a knock on Spezza at all. I love the kid and hate seeing him stuck at just one goal. For a while, I thought nothing of his slump because he was getting helpers and he was getting more defensive zone duties. It was as if his transition into a terrific two-way player was underway. But at this point, I think it is fair to say the Spezz Dispenser is snakebit. He'll snap out of it and I still expect that he'll tear it up and lead the team in scoring. True story, I think he gets red hot and takes the team scoring title.

Let it not take, though, from the heroics of Fisher. It isn't just his forecheck anymore. His shots are finding holes and he's scoring at insanely clutch moments. Tonight, when this team had taken complete control of the game for the third period, it was Fisher that took it to the next level and buried the winner. Not Alfie, not Spezza, not Michalek, but Fisher.

It is for this reason that I offer sincere apologies to Fisher for doubting his ability to win us games. Whether it is the 'A' on the shirt or the ladyfriend in his life, the kid is en fuego right now. Imagine if Spezza was finding his scoring touch again?

Sadly, our smallest crowd of the year tonight makes us look a bit shatty for a Canadian team on a winning streak and hosting Ovechkin.