What ever happened to that old NHL adage that the first home game after a long road trip was supposed to be beneficial to the visiting team?
After watching the first period of last night's game on PVR, I wasn't able to stomach any more and had to turn it off. Like a boxer who's been knocked out for the first time, the Ottawa Senators have lost their competitive edge. In fact, it's eerily reminiscent of the 2007 Stanley Cup team that endured a ridiculously long layoff between the Eastern Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals and came out flatter than Kiera Knightley's chest. After winning 14 of 16 before the Olympic break, the Senators have responded by collectively shitting the bed -- Amassing an atrocious 1-4-1 record over the 6-game post-break span and compiling an 8 goals for total that only Bill Muckalt could appreciate.
For whatever reason, this team has maintained their historical inability to overcome any Olympic break scheduling.
Is it alarming?
Am I worried about it?
Granted, the one game on their roadtrip that they did manage to win came against the worst team in the NHL. However, I'm not that concerned ... yet. As it stands, there are far too many games left between now and the end of the season to get wrapped up in one offensive dry spell. If a few of the top six forwards start producing again (Ed. note: Don't look now but Daniel Alfredsson only has one goal in his past 11 games.), the team will be fine. That Vancouver game notwithstanding, it's not like they're giving up a ton of goals. With 17 goals allowed since the Olympic break and with a few games in hand, they are still in the upper third of the NHL for least number of goals allowed.
Not so long ago, I received an email from Mike C., that asked why NHL General Managers were the ones primarily responsible for the league's rule changes. In a profession of such turnover, why should this generation's version of MacLean, Milbury and Muckler be this empowered?
It's a fair question and it's one that I'm not entirely sure of the answer. If it were up to me, I probably would have leave these kinds of decisions to the NHLPA player representatives and the league office. But for whatever reason, it's left up to the GMs and it has left me somewhat intrigued and leaves me wondering whether guys like Doug MacLean and Mike Milbury are bitter that they're no longer the alpha dogs of the NHL's circle.
It's because of this incessant need to be in the spotlight that I really wish the NHL would capitalize on the reality television boon and produce a program that casts a number of failed GMs and has them live together in the same house. Obviously the house would have to be located in a city where there's nothing to do and where the GMs would be easily recognized and lauded. A place like Saskatoon would suffice. The next step would be casting:
- Mike Milbury: The meathead who thinks he's smarter than everyone else.
- Bob Gainey: A man who has lost his way.
- John Ferguson Jr.: The young guy who talks a big game but rarely delivers.
- John Muckler: The aggressive drunk.
- Doug MacLean: Like his arrangement with Balsillie, he's involved only because he'll do anything for cash.
- Cliff Fletcher: Only in the house because he'll react to situations by making this face.
Who wouldn't want to watch a television program in which the following could conceivably happen:
- Milbury would saunter up to a bar and order a rye and ginger for $5. Immediately upon paying for the drink, a local resident would offer him $2 for the same drink. Because he's Milbury, he takes the deal. Scorned and now without a drink, Mike goes back to the bar and puts down a lifetime offer on rye and cokes. (Thinking it's a stroke of genius on his part.) A few minutes later, he remembers that he doesn't even like rye and coke.
- After a few drinks, Muckler parades around a local establishment like it's one of Eugene Melnyk's luxury suites -- smacking bottles off of tables and making overly theatrical hand gestures. When he eventually becomes cognizant of the fact that no one at the bar is impressed, he calls Rob Ray to stroke his ego.
- John Ferguson Jr. reguarly brags about how he's going to bring some high-quality females home with him. Instead, he overspends and only brings home role-players.
- Recognizing him at a bar, a local resident strikes up a conversation with Doug MacLean and asks the question of whether or not MacLean thinks a NHL team would be viable in the prairies. When MacLean says no, the local would raise his ire by retorting, "But Columbus has a team." Mike Milbury would inevitably have to invervene in the situation by beating the local down with a shoe.
- Noticing a small group of Dukhobors at the bar, Milbury promptly tells the bouncer to "Get that Eurotrash out of here!"
- The housemates bicker over whose turn it is to clean the kitchen mess before Muckler chimes in and says, "Screw it. We'll let the next tenant clean up after our mess."
A Thought On Phil Kessel
Lately, it seems as though every time I turn on a sports highlight program, Phil Kessel has scored another goal by doing his patented circle the right faceoff circle before burying a wrist shot. I don't want to take anything away from Kessel, but why teams have not keyed in on Kessel's tendencies via advanced pro scouting is beyond me.
Congratulations to Boo Boo
I'm not entirely sure who Gene Florcyk was but I do know that the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch is a finalist for the Gene Florcyk Memorial Award for Sports Writing (over 25,000 circulation). Bruce was nominated for his coverage of this past summer's Dany Heatley coverage thereby proving that good things can happen when you throw selfish assholes, who have dilated pupils, under the bus.
Senators in on Wellman?
HNIC's Elliotte Friedman has revealed on Twitter that the Senators are in heavily on the California-born, UMass forward Casey Wellman. Wellman's a NCAA prospect at UMass who will be turning 23 later this fall. As an undrafted NCAA overager, once he decides to turn pro, he is free to sign with anyone. You can read about Wellman here, here and read his statistics here.