Sunday, March 21, 2010

What Panic Button?

For some reason, I just haven't really seemed to want to find the panic button during this insanely bad slide for the Sens. Maybe I'm reaching the level that Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown had found where we're out of towels and I'm too old to go diving into lockers. Perhaps it is just because we have seen our team collapse in so many different fashions that nothing is new to me anymore.

Make no mistake - I'm still 100% supportive of this team and still think that we'll find our way into the postseason when all is said and done. I have said since last summer that this team isn't good enough to fight for the division, but we aren't bad enough to finish below the many mediocre teams that make up the Eastern Conference. Just as I've been saying all year, we will clinch our postseason spot in the final week of the season.

What troubles me most is just the roller coaster season these boys have put together. I am very aware of the highs and lows of an 82-game season, but we're having such peaks and valleys that it really doesn't feel right. How did a team go from a brutal five-game losing streak straight into an incredible 11-game winning streak? How does the same team that won 11 games in a row go on a stretch where they win one of nine post-Olympics?

I'm not here to point fingers at coaching, goaltending, defence, scoring, special teams, etc. Truth be told, all of the facets of our game have struggled at some point during this rough patch. What I would like to see from this team in its final ten games is a little bit of fight and a little bit of pride.

I attended the game in Atlanta last Thursday and it was truly embarrassing. We tied the game on a bit of a fluke goal where the ref missed Ruutu giving Hedberg a clear elbow to the head and before the Thrashers could compose themselves, we had potted a quick pair and tied it up. But that was all the excitement we could do. I have been to many Sens games and watched hundreds more on the tube and I haven't seen such a dejected, self-pitying bunch as I did on Thursday night. The Sutton penalty was a horseshit call, but bad calls happen every game.

After the Antropov powerplay goal, the team should have found its focus and been a bit fired up, but instead we had Phillips make one of his worst giveaways onto the stick of Armstrong and the game was over. As soon as that shot made it past Elliott, I watched how the players on the ice and on the bench would react and what I saw was really discouraging. To a man, they all just hung their heads in shame and disbelief. It was not the appearance of a team fighting for its playoff lives; it was the appearance of a team that just wanted to get out of town with another loss. At what point, though, does somebody slap this group upside the head and get them working together again? On every shift, you could even see one player skating his ass off while his linemate floated through the neutral zone without a care in the world. I hear Clouston say that they are all working hard, but I just don't see all the players working hard. That's what bugged me the most.

Listen, Sens fans, they are who we thought they were (thanks, Dennis). For those that thought the 11-game streak was par and we were legitimate divisional contenders needn't look past the goaltending position to see why Buffalo is at the top and we're not. This is a scrappy group of some NHL players and some AHL players (I'm talking to you, Ryan Shannon), a makeshift defence that is showing signs of fatigue, and another failed gamble in nets. It was a crapshoot to make the playoffs from last summer and it still stands that way today. If nothing else, it will make for an exciting April. It's still too early to talk about Clouston and Murray and it is still too ridiculous to think that Mike Brodeur or Jonathan Cheechoo is the missing link. These clowns need to sort this out themselves and that's why they all get paid the big bucks, including the coach.

The call from the Euge isn't a pep talk, as they portray it in the press. It is a wakeup call that the boss doesn't like being proven a buffoon year after year when he goes on the Fan 590 singing our praises. Murray has built a team that he likes, he has the coach in place, and it is up to this group to live up to the word of the big guy in Barbados. And for crying out loud, can somebody stop a freaking puck?

Go finish hard and get that first win out of the way, boys! And because nothing cheers us up like thinking of happier times, here is yet another youtube clip from the Olympics. This one is cool because it has all the international broadcasts of the goal. I was amazed at how excited all of the other countries loved the goal. Enjoy the rest of the weekend, cheer up, and let's go get some wins. "IGGY!"


Colin said...

Love the post bud. Too many people are freaking out because they began planning the parade after the streak. Anyways go Sens go!

PS I don't hate Sidney as much as I used to. Nice clip

Anonymous said...

Love the French commentators, they *lose* their shit!

duff said...

I'm wondering if the French guys were just pumped that the Americans lost, regardless of who beat them...
The Swedish announcers right after did alright, too.

Gregory said...

"The call from the Euge isn't a pep talk, as they portray it in the press. It is a wakeup call that the boss doesn't like being proven a buffoon year after year"

Then he needs to calm down. As much as I respect our owner he has a tendency to get overenthusiastic, make bold predictions and then have the team implode. Maybe the players find the pressure annoying or unpalateable. Just saying you support the team and hope for playoff success is reasonable and it won't fly back in your face.

I don't think we can talk about a coaching change; if there is change it will be at the player level...perhaps the GM level.

Master Of Puppets said...

I dug out my original prediction sheet for this season and here's how I had the last 10 games. 12 points. I still think it can be done.

March 22 at Montreal 3-2 W
March 23 vs. Philadelphia 4-3 L
March 26 at Buffalo 4-1 L
March 27 vs. Florida 5-1 W
March 30 at Washington 5-3 L
April 1 vs. Carolina 3-2 OTL
April 3 at N.Y. Islanders 3-2 OTL
April 6 at Florida 4-3 W
April 8 at Tampa Bay 3-1 W
April 10 vs. Buffalo 4-2 W

duff said...

Hey Gregory, I see your point but I don't have a problem with the owner lighting a fire under a team that needs one lit. I know that we can't compare professional sports to any other profession, but when a company sets expectations and you don't deliver, then the boss is within his right to ask why. I think all he's doing is asking what the heck has happened and I think the implication of that call is "now go fix it." Eugene has proven to be a 'don't tell me the problem, tell me the solution' kind of owner with Murray, all the way back to three years ago when Mucks was ousted over a March afternoon lunch. Murray has essentially had a free pass here and perhaps the Euge is just running out of patience and trying to figure out why the train has derailed. Is he overzealous and overanxious? Sure, but he's allowed to be those things because this is his team. If players find it annoying, then go somewhere else where you aren't held accountable.

Master Of Puppets said...

Speaking of derail ... the team has been off track since the Cheechoo train was demoted and Cullen brought in.
"Just Sayin'".

Seriously though, can two vets injected in the lineup disrupt chemistry like this or has the team used up its last goaltending horseshoe?

Smith and Brodeur were the answer against the Habs when the last streak began. Half of the good luck tandem is missing ...

It has to start tonight.

Master Of Puppets said...

Still plenty of horseshoes in the box ...

They are ahead of my predictions. Elliott with some game breaking saves, and Volchenkov with key blocks.

Cullen is ramping up - hopefully catches fire just before playoffs. Some of these close ones will be lighting the lamp soon.

Not making assumptions (about making it yet) but Cullen and Kovalev will be key forwards when the second season begins.