Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Nightmare That Won't End - Sens Lose Again

This is like a bad dream that you can't wake yourself up from. Ottawa rolled into Atlanta on a four-game losing streak, including three straight to Southeast Division opponents. Wait, correction, it is now a five-game losing streak, including four straight to Southeast Division opponents. The lowly Thrashers have joined the lowly Hurricanes and the lowly Panthers to embarass the Sens.

It is heartbreaking and infuriating to see Pascal Leclaire struggle like this. Heartbreaking because I really wanted him to be the go-to guy. He came in with a similar story to Gerber - one great year and a big contract. Favouring Pascal, though, was that he had youth on his side. Another advantage is that Snoopy came in with a swagger that we hadn't seen since Hasek. Whereas Gerber was shy and unprepared for the heat of a Canadian market, Pascal came in ready to shoulder the expectations of a desperate fanbase.

But what has happened, it seems, is that Pascal has hit a roadbump. Time will tell if this is a mini-slump or a gross miscalculation by Murray and his staff. I am not ready to jump to conclusions here because Pascal has most definitely shown signs of brilliance in his limited time in our nets. What is troubling, though, is that it sure would be nice to look to our cocky goalie to bail us out of some rough patches in the face of adversity.

What is infuriating is that he can't do it right now. Why does he get himself so far out of position when moving across the crease? Why has he all of a sudden started to kick rebounds out into the slot instead of into the corners like he was earlier? Why has his performance dropped to the point that he's been pulled three times in the past few weeks since returning from surgery?

There is no time to sulk in our sorrows right now. We head to MSG to take on the Rags and then to Montreal to play the Habs. As we sit in 7th place, the Rangers are in 6th and the Habs are in 8th. I believe the importance of these next two games is pretty much implied at this point. 5 straight losses and the next two games against our direct competition on the bubble. If that doesn't make you cringe, we have the Bruins twice next week, and then have the Pens and Devils the week after that. Alfie might be back for that first Bruins game next Monday, but let's not expect one player, even if he is a God to us, to come in and all of a sudden turn 6-1 losses into instant wins.


Master Of Puppets said...

Yeesh, when you paint it that way, a 1-7 record over the next 8 is not too unrealistic an expectation ...
Here it is. By Feb 12 we'll know for sure if what we have is a playoff contender or playoff pretender. (notice I said playoff contender) No illusions about contending for that tall silver thing. Despite what people may say when you get to the second season.

I still say leave Snoopy in all the way. Make it sink or swim based on him.

pynch said...

MoP - I fully agree with your take on Leclaire. As inconsistent as he's been, I think Clouston needs to stop circulating goalies and give the nod to Snoopy. Could be a nightmare, but it could be what Leclaire needs. We'll know after a string of consistent games.

Rink Rant said...

When the injuries started to pile up and the team was performing beyond expectations last month I remember thinking “this is good but we are riding a bit of a home stand cushion…surely this will eventually change.” I checked the then upcoming January schedule and not surprisingly there was a big road trip approaching. I remember thinking well, at least it starts out kind of tame and we’ll have a chance to pick up a slew of points against the southeasy (CAR, FLA, ATL) before some of the bigger challenges (CHI)…so…here we are and it’s been bad boys. It’s been bad. Like you pointed out though we are still somehow on the bubble and the next few games are maybe the most critical of the season.
Onto the whole keeper situation: Agreed. The last thing we need to get into here is this win and you’re in garbage (though some wins would be nice). We need to just calm down (Don Brennan) and let Pascal be our guy. As you pointed out this guy has actually had so little time to get into his game. Goaltenders are total headcases (aka why win and you’re in doesn’t work). Let him forget the bad games a bit. I feel for Clouston in some situations though…must be hard to keep starting a guy on an ugly losing skid when your 4M dollar starter looks like he’s off on some psychedelic journey when the puck goes behind the net.
There’s a lot of musical chairs talk on the radio, in the paper and our beloved internet: its Eli Wilson, its LeClaire, its Murray, it’s our D, lets call up Brodeur etc. I think a lot of these questions are valid. This club looks broken and we want fast answers, however, I think what we need is stability. We are absolutely swimming in injuries. I can’t remember the last time if ever we’ve been in a situation like this. We must steer the ship oh so carefully through the storm not rearrange the chairs on the deck.

The Dutch Treat said...

Good post Rink Rat. My worst fear now is making a trade for the sake of making a trade. The team is dealing from a position of absolute weakness and through that is how you get a rumored trade like Brian Lee, Jim O' Brien and a 2nd round pick for Andrew Cogliano (he of less points than Cheechoo).

Don't make a desperation deal. Last thing we need is Murray moving players and picks for the third coming of the Comrie.

Anshu said...

I think I'm on the "fire Eli Wilson" bandwagon now. Maybe its his fault and maybe it isn't, but it doesn't seem to me that he's had much success in his role, so I can't figure out why we're keeping him.

BTW, if Murray can execute a trade as good as Comrie for Kaigorodov, I'd be ecstatic. But at this point, I don't think a trade for the sake of a trade is that good an idea.

Murray tried that with Stillman and Commodore with very weak results and nothing to show for it long term. Bringing in veteran players at this point means we're likely moving prospects or picks, and there's little historical evidence that we'll be any more successful if we do so.

Unfortunately, I think the only reasonable course of action is to ride it out a little longer until our top line gets back from injury.

And in the meantime, to keep the masses appeased, offer up a sacrifice in the form of Eli Wilson.

pynch said...

Well Anshu, you got your wish! Eli Wilson has been fired. I just wonder if a domino effect will follow...

duff said...

Anshu - it was the mighty Muckler that pulled off Comrie for Kaigorodov. Murray did the Comrie/Campoli for DMac and a first. Chalk that point up to Mucks.

Anshu said...

Anshu - it was the mighty Muckler that pulled off Comrie for Kaigorodov.

Of the two trades for Comrie, I much prefer Muckler's. Though I must admit, I am a fan of Campoli. Liked his style of play from before he was a Sen, in fact, though I think I might be the only one.

Its the other Muckler trades that hurt the future. Giving up Brooks Laich for an ineffective Peter Bondra was not a good choice. I don't remember what we gave up for Tyler Arnason, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn it was the draft pick that ended up being Duncan Keith, or something equally bad.

There was a lot I liked about how Muckler managed the team, but I could see selling the future for the present was eventually going to catch up to him.

In Murray's case, it might be more about the moves he didn't make. I'm glad Murray didn't sign Stillman and Commodore to deals like they got elsewhere. I'm glad someone else is paying Redden $6.5M per year to under-perform. I'm glad Murray didn't make Brian Campbell the highest paid D-man in the NHL.

Grinder said...

It seems to me that the empty seats speak volumes. Even with season tickets, I have only been to a few games this year. I just can't get excited about this team.

I still think we should have stuck to skill and speed rather than let Murray go through the island of misfit toys to sign a bunch of oddballs and fringe local guys.

Every bad move the guy made can be explained, but why is it that certain franchises, like Jersey and Detroit, always seem to put together a decent team with a chance at the cup?