So I was talking with co-blogger Pynch yesterday about what we wanted to do with this site and while we both want to keep blogging, we find it difficult to put in any effort to write about the shitshow that we've had to watch on the ice so far this season. I guess Kovalev and I have more in common than originally believed.
Some thoughts heading into a pretty important weekend with divisional games against Buffalo and Montreal:
1. Goaltending. Is there any surprise that this is one of our key issues again? I hate to say it, but the only time that we've truly had stability in our nets was the half season we got from Dominik Hasek. He was lights out that year and we've all just grown to hate him again for the whole adductor thing. But up until the Olympics, we all felt that a trip to the Finals was inevitable because of our goalie. I find it hard to believe that Murray sees us as a real contender this year at the same time he let us enter the season with Snoopy and Ells. I know his statements were that we'd be a playoff team and then anything can happen in the second season. But seriously, what the hell did we expect from these two guys? It doesn't make it any less frustrating that porcelain Pascal is out and Elliott pats himself on the back with praise after giving up five goals, but it isn't surprising.
2. On Karlsson, let us not forget that the kid kinda stunk up the joint last year in the early going, too. I'm not suggesting that some time in Bingo is warranted, but it might take some time to get some swagger going again. The reason that the sophomore slump typically exists is that rookies leave at the end of their first year full of confidence and a touch of arrogance. Sometimes, that can affect their off-season workout because they no longer have to fight for a spot on the team. I'm not insisting that is the case with Karlsson, but it is entirely possible that he didn't fight quite as hard this year compared to last year and thus is having some trouble catching up to the pace. He'll find his game, no question about that. Hope he moves back in with Alfie!
3. On Gonchar, he'll be fine. Special teams take time and our powerplay has an abundant amount of pressure to be top ten in the league with his addition. Let them learn how to move the puck around and find the good shots. Recall that Sarge just spent a few seasons feeding Malkin on the halfboards for one-timers, now he looks over there and sees Alex Floatalev. That is a massive adjustment! When he plays the left side, he needs to feed Alfie for the one-timer and it will take time to get that down.
4. On the other youngsters, there are what we thought they were. Remember when some morons thought Peter Regin was going to get a $3M offer sheet and we should match? As fans, we always look at the smallest of sample sizes to evaluate someone's performance. Just as we want this year's team blown up after six games, people thought Peter Regin was a lock for top line duties after the six playoff games last year. If we're lucky, he'll turn out like a Jiri Hudler (who is a p*ssy, so hopefully Regin is a bit tougher) and be a 45 point guy on the third line. Would anyone have a problem with that? I just don't see enough jam in this kid's game to see him regularly getting top line minutes with guys like Spezza and Alfredsson.
5. On Alfie, he's incredible. I'm going to cry and weep like a two-year old when he retires. But let's not talk about that, let's talk about how he is still one of our best skaters. That's both a testament to him and a knock on some of the rest. No way that a 37/38-year old should be one of the top skaters. C'mon, Foligno!
6. On Brian Lee, there is little doubt that his time in Ottawa is about done. Hale is called up to take his spot for now and Kuba is starting to skate. What surprised me is how nobody tied him in with trade rumours back to Minnesota. First, people always assume that every Minnesota-born player is destined to play for the Wild (see: Matt Cullen). Then, we know Lee is garbage and we want him gone. Finally, Murray admits that he was on the phone for a very long time with Chuck Flether talking trades. Lee for Havlat? No. Lee for Burns? No. Lee for Clutterbuck? No. Minnesota needs energy, too, so don't bother with the Lee + Kovalev talk. What we have to remember here is that Lee's trade value is very low unless there is some GM out there that feels he needs a fresh start and points to an Alex Steen or something.
7. On Spezza, I just saw on Andy Strickland's website that Murray is still shopping him. Strickland is normally pretty reliable and connected, but can we drop the Spezza trade talk? He's our most talented player and the future of the Senators. Trading top line centres never works and Murray will not make a job-saving desperation trade involving someone as talented as Spetz. Move on, Andy, and find out who we are REALLY shopping.
8. On Clouston, if I see one more too many men penalty, I want him and his staff having to go through a bag skate. Sure, the players know when to come on and off, but there must be something going on with the coaching staff that is causing this chaos on the bench. Are they changing wings? Changing linemates? It just blows my mind how this can happen so often. Clouston has insisted he won't call out names of the culprits but it has happened so many times now that we have nothing else to do but to call out the coach. Get your shit together on the bench and learn to play with five men instead of six! Or seven.
9. On the scoreboard, heard that Eugene is hoping to get a new one for the All-Star Game. I'm indifferent.
10. On Murray, I just hope he doesn't make any desperation moves. His track record with trades his floating between failure and disaster. I was trying to think of successful trades and can point to the Meszaros deal (which was quite good for us) and the Schaeffer/Donovan trade, just because Chum was decent for us and it got that little douchebag Schaeffer off our payroll. Besides that, not much to write home about. Sure his drafting has stocked the cupboards, but that is only a part of building a winner. The Pascal trade hasn't worked out. He took a chance and tried to address an issue and it didn't work. The Kovalev signing was and still is one of the worst moves we've seen just based on the cap hit and the wasted icetime. More on him next. He signed Emery and then cut him; he signed Heatley and then traded him; he's had three coaches; his most successful signing has been Jarkko Ruutu.
11. On Kovalev, I can't stand him. My good friend and former co-worker Peter at Silver Seven Sens has a good piece on the bright side of the player (link) but I'm still having a hard time accepting his spot on this team. Stubborn, I am. I also don't buy the long-held theory that he is always making his linemates better by giving them more space. Who in God's name is double-teaming Kovalev at this point? If anything, this guy should be wide open on the ice and Fisher is the one battling for time and space. Does anyone think that maybe Fisher was just due for a good season, with or without Kovalev? I wouldn't be happy with Kovalev at $2M right now and I'm sure as shit not happy with him at $5M. He has KHL written all over him next year, seeing as how there is no way Ghost brings him back to MTL for his goodwill season.
12. After six games, Murray's argument that losing Volchenkov isn't a problem hasn't worked out. Small sample size and nothing to discuss in great detail yet, but giving up 40 shots on the weekend doesn't sound like a team that is dominating in puck possession and taking more shots on the other team. Defence needs to improve.
13. Elliot has never lost to the Sabres. We're all pining for a Lehner start, but Ells has their number. Let Lehner have the Montreal game back at home.
And just win!
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