Friday, February 12, 2010

Thoughts on a Busy Friday

Quick note: was anyone else pissed off and embarassed with the Canadian national anthem tonight at the Olympic Opening Ceremony? I'm not trying to pick on the 16-year old that sang it, but the version was brutal. Most of the world watching tonight has never heard our anthem so it would have been nice if we could have had someone sing it proudly and properly. Instead, we paraded out some kid that recorded it a month ago in some lame-ass pop rendition that makes me sick. I truly found it embarassing and it made me furious that we would want to represent ourselves to the world in such a stupid fashion. Get someone to sing the effing song right and make us proud.

Finally, a chance to sit back and digest a busy day in Hockey Country. Let me get a few thoughts out before getting to Cheechoo.

1. The Murray extension. I'm indifferent to this. I don't think he's been amazing, but he's done his job. He has made some great signings and draft picks and he's made some bad ones. At the end of the day, his team is leading the division and that is better than anyone expected. During the five game losing streak, I never got to a point where I wanted him gone, but I did point out that this is officially Murray's team. The only contracts on this team that he didn't sign or acquire were Phillips, Alfie, and Volchenkov. Now that we've won 13 of the last 14, I will give him credit because THIS IS his team.

2. The Cullen acquisition. I love it! I had just told Pynch last night that I really like every player on this team right now...except the fact that Picard and Cheechoo make me nauseous (more on Cheechoo later). Picard, apart from Canuknik's love affair, hasn't really struck a true chord with the fans in Ottawa. He showed flashes of top four potential where he could move the puck up the ice or make the brilliant pinch down low. The problem, though, is that he is a poor positional player and is too picky on when to take the body. The Washington game was a perfect example - he can rub you out on the boards on one shift, or let Semin walk around untouched for a goal on the next. There was just never a sense of urgency with the guy and I, for one, am excited that we can move on from the Picard era. Cullen, as I know him, is like a Fisher without the fan club or the celebrity fiancee. He is fast as hell, can manage the puck very well on the point on the PP, and laughs at putting up 45-50 points. No sign on whether he is possible to extend in Ottawa as Murray acknowledged he is only focused on this year (code: he is not re-signing), but we should be able to get a legit second liner here that can produce. He was also huge in the Canes' Cup run, which is nice to know that we have a guy that produces in the postseason.

3. Lee and Derek Smith are recalled. Wow, we're really going into two big games this weekend with Kuba and Lee as our second pairing. Lucky for us, we're playing two reeling teams. Unlucky for us, our defence is subpar this weekend. Murray said today that Karlsson should be back when the games resume in March, and that he will look to address defencemen at the deadline. With a bit of money to spare now, I wonder if he'll try and pick someone up without moving a roster player. I'm curious to see if he wants an offensive defencemen, something like picking up Matthieu Schneider off of waivers, for example. Or will we just find a cheap guy that is NHL-ready like Sean O'Donnell?

4. Cheechoo is waived. One of our best moves, in my opinion. Pardon me here for probably pissing on the guy's grave, but why the hell do Ottawa fans like him so much? He came in here as 'the salary dump' in the Heatley trade. WE DID NOT WANT HIM AT ALL!!! But I think we were so desperate to tell the rest of the league that we didn't get fleeced on the Heatley deal because Cheechoo would find his touch again. I think that was a big part of why people wanted him to succeed - so we'd feel better about trading a 50-goal scorer for Michalek AND....a resurgent Jonathan Cheechoo. The problem is that Cheechoo isn't good. I took a stroll over to SensChirp earlier today to read some of the fan comments over the waiver decision and it just made me angry. Four out of five fans are saying things like how they wish him well and what a great guy he was and how hard he worked. Pardon me, but did Jonathan Cheechoo show up at your house and bake you a Shepherd's Pie and strawberry shortcake for dessert? Did he walk your kids to school when you had an early meeting at work? Did he clean your bathrooms before your in-laws showed up? No, I'm guessing that he didn't do any of those things. SO HOW THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO TELL ME WHAT A GREAT PERSON HE IS? He is a pro hockey player making $3M a year, he didn't save you from a falling through a frozen pond. Get over it, people. And he works hard? I challenge any of you to tell me that you wouldn't "work hard" if someone gave you an NHL contract and let you play on a Canadian team. That isn't enough. Everyone in the NHL works hard.

The guy cranked out a spectacular season, one of the best of our generation, and signed a whopper of an extension. It isn't his fault. If someone offered you $3M a year for 5 years, you wouldn't ask him to lower the dollar value or shorten the term. The problem is the guy isn't good anymore and is hardly NHL quality. We need to stop making excuses for him and just admit that the Heatley return was a great kid in Michalek and a second round pick. Cheechoo is nothing more than a hole in Mr. Melnyk's pocket. For the fans that say he works hard and was coming around and was a great person, all you are doing is trying to make yourself feel better about the Heatley trade. Cheechoo stinks. When this contract is up, he'll hardly be worth the league minimum and you all know it. Am I kicking a man when he's down? Yeah, I guess, but if he is reading this blog anyway, he should shut down his laptop and drive to the rink and work on his effing skating. If he wants a job this summer, he needs to figure out how the hell he scored 56 goals and then convince someone else he can do half of that again.

Face it, we traded Heatley for Michalek and a 2nd round pick. Cheechoo was awful for us, made his linemates worse, and we still don't know if he was a good person. I wish him the best of luck because I want to see hockey players succeed, but I am insanely pumped up that we don't have to have this guy dress of us ever again. He was awful in Ottawa and he is someone else's problem now...Eugene Melnyk, right now. Don't bother telling me that he is a hard worker and a great person - I'm sick of it. We didn't get fair value on Heatley, but we're still a better team now than we were in the past two years, so we all just move on.

Hooray! Picard out, Cullen in!

Sens trade 7th defenceman Alex Picard and a 2nd rounder for Matt Cullen, according to This is great news as Picard has been a thorn in most of our sides all year. Also, I have a good buddy also named Matt Cullen, which should inspire a lot of bad jokes among my circle of friends.

This move puts us officially out of cap space and also takes us down to 6 NHL caliber defencemen, including Karlsson.

Cullen has 40 pts in 60 games with the Canes this season and should be a great addition to our lunch pail group.

In other news, Duff's nausea is subsiding now that Picard has been shipped out. Ironically, Picard will now reside in Duff's Carolina backyard.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Duh - One Goal Wins are Important!

Quick note this morning following last night's W vs. the Flames, which I unfortunately didn't have the luxury of watching. I did, however, note the final score and as Duff pointed out to me - another 1 goal win. By my quick count, that makes 15 thus far, Shooter. And that doesn't include wins where we pot an empty netter, which should also be considered one goal wins. So, my guess is that half or more of our wins have been decided by one grape (including ENs).

Sure, we all love to see our team win a 7-1 barn burner where even Cheechoo scores! (ok, I'll lay off him for now...) But you know where one goal wins are crucial? The playoffs. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing this group can hold on in tight games and come out on top and gives me confidence as the post season approaches.

And speaking of the playoffs, last night's win brings back our need to play .500 hockey for the balance of the season to hit that magic total of 94 points. While the 94 mark may be more than enough to get us into this post season in this year's Eastern Conference, I still prefer to use it as a benchmark that we need to shoot for (well, actually, I'd like then to shoot to win the next 22 games, but I'm not a delusional Leaf fan).

Tomorrow we host the Caps. Remember when they were bad not too long ago? Well those days are long gone as Captain Ovechkin seems poised on taking over the world. As we prepare, the hot topic for today will likely remain - will Carrie Underwood be cheering for Canada's Olympic Men's Ice Hockey team? Errrrr, I mean, the hot topic will remain who will start in net??? Should another solid performance from the BE Keeper warrant another start? Is he our #1? Or does Snoopy deserve a chance to start?

I say give it to Snoopy. I'd like to see him get so jacked for this game that he (slash, we) beats the fearless Caps. Or, he stinks it up and we give the weekend to Ells. Then again, I don't coach the team.

Oh, I nearly forgot, while I missed the game last night, I did catch the hightlights this morning and was delighted to see the post game interviews...cause the boys were on the bikes!! I love it! Reminds me of good ol' times and confirms to me that this group is the hardest working in the league.

Pedal on, boys!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Quick Mind-Blowing Statistic...and What are you watching for this week?

Jonathan Cheechoo is tied for 4th (Alfie) on the team with 111 shots on goal. He has 5 goals. This means a shooting percentage of .045, compared with Alfie's .144.

We've beaten the Cheechoo thing into the ground, but that stat blew my mind.

We'll start to shift focus this week to the Olympics, noting that we still have four games left before the break. In 'what are you watching' news, I will be focused on both Tuesday night's game against the Flames to see how we rebound, but also Thursday against the Caps. During our winning streak, we took down some pretty strong teams in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver. It will be interesting to see how we do against the statistical 'hottest team in hockey'. Both games are at home. I'm also watching to see who will start the games, since Pascal is healthy but Elliott has won nine of his last ten.

What are you watching for this week?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Stay the Course, Boys

Thoughts from last night's game in Toronto:

1. If you missed the game, here's the recap: basically, every Sens player had his worst game since the streak began. Done.

2. I am going to be really upset when I start seeing pundits and fans saying how they were all waiting and expecting Elliott to crumble. Get a grip, guys. The kid just rattled off 9 straight wins and played stellar hockey. He's allowed to have an off night from time to time. We didn't do him any favours taking the first five penalties of the game and we were all due for a stinker. I have no problem seeing Elliott back in the net Tuesday against the Flames - he's earned it with getting us comfortably into fifth place and if you are still doubting him and are using last night's game as your pudding, then you are as bad as all the other Chicken Little fans we have in Ottawa. Give the guy some support!

3. Given the circumstances surrounding the Leafs and their GM, was there really much doubt that they'd be emotionally charged in that game? They dominated us start to finish and you have to think that there was more on their side than just a strong forecheck. I'll give them the credit for that one.

4. Remember when we were all angry with the CBC for showing favourtism in televising all Leaf games on HNIC? After listening to the travesty and aberration that is a Bob Cole game, I wouldn't mind never having to be featured on Hockey Night again. I'm sorry for those that think he is a legend. For me, he makes me want to puke. I actually don't even hate the Leafs anymore, but I sure as shat hate their broadcasts because I have to listen to his screaming at the end of the game for Giguere's shutout. Add to that the Healy nonsense of saying how Phaneuf has changed the culture of the team (in less than a week) and how Schenn is a whole new player (in one game). Remember that this team is in LAST PLACE in the conference and was 24 hours off a blown two goal lead in the final three minutes of a game. Bob Cole's desire to see Toronto win is matched equally with his excitement at seeing the Sens lose and when one leads to the other, he becomes unbearable. I'm sorry, that was pathetic. Galley was doing all he could to point out that the Leafs were fresh off a blown lead, but to no avail. For those wondering where Harry Neale went, he is the colour man for equally obnoxious Rick Jeanerette in Buffalo. I honestly think that I could watch the game in mute and not really hate the Leafs as much as I used to, but listening to that buffoon with his sidekick at ice level just ruins the night. Here's to tradition, right? From the same network that continues to try and make George Stroumboulopoulos relevant, I guess we're crazy to expect otherwise.

5. Four more games until the break. Earlier in the season, it would look like an intimidating stretch having to play Calgary, Washington, and Detroit before finishing against the Islanders. Calgary and Detroit are both reeling and somebody needs to knock off Washington from their streak, so wouldn't it be nice to rattle off a few more wins before the Olympics?

It was a stinker last night, boys. Put it behind you and move on. Free pass to Picard for getting off the rust, but he can't look that bad again Tuesday. Campoli, on the other hand, can't use that same excuse. Just a quick reminder that the D needs to work harder in front of our net. If Elliott kicks out rebounds as he did when he lost his cool, the D owes it to him to pick him up a bit.

One last note on rumours. Friedman said something on Hot Stove about Svatos wanting out of Colorado and did I hear him say that Clouston knows him and wants him? I couldn't tell if I caught that right. Not sure if I care for Svatos. Also interesting was that Ray Whitney said he wants a 3-year extension when he gets traded, thus nixing a deal to the Kings. Considering our cap situation, does that not rule us out? Again, think under a million bucks for a third liner, unless Murray blows minds and can move Cheechoo for nothing.

Question - would you trade Cheechoo and a second round pick to the reeling Thrashers for Afinogenov? You get a scorer on a one-year deal and you move the albatross, but lose a second rounder.

Happy Super Sunday!