On this week's episode of the podcast, we were fortunate enough to share the studio with Sun Media's Neate Sager. Aside from working for the Sun, Neate is also the writer of the popular Out of Left Field blog and the CIS blog. I highly encourage you readers to check both out.
Aside from sharing the studio with Neate, Tim and I also were afforded the opportunity to talk to an inaugural Senators player, icon and legend -- Darcy "The Chainsaw" Loewen.
As always, the podcast is available for stream/download/subscribe to for free on Itunes and if you don't have Itunes, you can download the link by right-clicking and saving this link. Or you can simply stream the episode below. I hope you readers enjoy it and I hope you all enjoy this afternoon's Senators game on Hockey Day in Canada.
Here's the tracklist for the podcast: The Constantines Young Lions; Rolling Stones Street Fighting Man; Neil Young Down the Wire; The Rural Alberta Advantage Edmonton.
As a John Muckler draft pick who was selected in the ninth round, 291st overall, the odds that Brian Elliott would ever develop into a useful commodity at the NHL level were long. (Ed. note: I really can't emphasize the point that he was a Muckler pick enough.) It's because of these circumstances that it's refreshing to see a homegrown product who has overcome adversity and considerable media scrutiny to help stabilize the Senators goaltending situation during this time of need.
With Glasscal Leclaire on the sidelines, Elliott was named last week's NHL First Star. With two more wins this week, he has now strung together six consecutive victories and has allowed only 6 goals on 170 shots - good enough for a 0.965 save percentage. If Brian can muster up another successful start on Hockey Day in Canada against the Canadiens, it's reasonable to assume that he'll have an opportunity to receive another NHL Star distinction.
Despite the League recognizing Elliott's strong play of late, perhaps the biggest gauge of Elliott's success is the fact that two days after dropping this quote,
The play of the Senators' goalies is a bit overrated. Yeah, they're making saves. The kind of saves they're supposed to make. Tell me when, during the winning streak, did you watch Brian Elliott or Mike Brodeur make a stop and say, "Wow!" Me, not once. I think the team plays pretty solid in front of them, and when the Senators get some scoring and even adequate goaltending, they're pretty tough to beat.
Don Brennan unconventionally pulled a 180-degree turn and fellated Elliott's play in Pittsburgh last night. Hell, Elliott was even Pierre McGuire's got in on the love-in by naming Elliott his monster of the game last night. With the way Pierre has gone out of his way to drop trou on Elliott's rebound control for the last year and a half, who would have seen that coming?
Things are going so well for Brian that the only legitimate gripe that can be made against Elliott right now is the fact that he has a barbed wire decal adorning the bottom portion of his mask. I thought this fad died in the 1990's when Pamela Anderson starred in that horrendous Barbed Wire flick. Seriously though, the only socially acceptable use of the barbed wire graphic should be reserved for women whose profession involves walking down a flight of stairs as an emcee tells a group of men to give it up for Trinity!
I digress. Bryan Murray's in an intriguing situation right now: The status quo -- sans Leclaire -- is getting the job done and the Senators are pressed against the salary cap ceiling. A number of credible outlets are reporting that he'd like to add a piece like Ray Whitney but obviously such a move would require some kind of roster casualty to offset any additional salary. I don't envision the Senators would bury Cheechoo's contract in the minors to placate the team's cap situation. So I wonder, would Bryan Murray be willing to listen to offers for Pascal Leclaire? (As an aside, Jonathan Willis, the writer of The Score's Hockey or Die! blog, has written a piece detailing how the Oilers goaltending has been adversely affected in the absence of Nikolai Khabibulin. Maybe there's a match to be made.)
Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are?
Patrick Kane used to be the only thing that Buffalo citizens had to pay attention to in their rear view mirrors. With Ottawa's latest winning streak, they're now only 5 points back of the Northeast Division leading Sabres. Granted, Buffalo does have three games in hand but they also have to play Ottawa three more times this season. In homage to Mark Christopher packing it in, eff Buffalo.
No More Olympic Games For Alfie?
James Gordon was bang on when he wrote that it’s hard to think of a player as productive and durable as the Ottawa Senators’ Daniel Alfredsson hanging up the blades for good, but he confirmed Thursday the 2010 Vancouver Olympics will be his last trip to the Games.
Not only is it hard to fathom, it's uber-depressing to read about. With The Euge's optimism rubbing off on everyone in the Hockey Capital, and the team's winning streak in tact, no Senators fan wants to listen to the Captain forecast when his hockey career's internal clock will wind down.
Washington needs a physical defenceman and Volchenkov's Russian. Great fit right? According to the Rock the Red website that's devoted to its coverage of the Capitals, Volchenkov's the guy that George McPhee should be targetting...
One area the Caps have not been able to shore up is adding a pure Defensive player, one who is effective in puck-movement, blocking, hitting, and speed. Sure, Washington’s roster seems bottomless, but it is filled with youth (Karl Alzner, Tyler Sloan), penalty prone members (Shaone Morrison, Mike Green), and little offensive upside (John Erskine). While there are several viable options available on the market, some would not be a long term option due to age (Scott Niedermayer, the return of Sergei Gonchar), overpaying for offensive abilities that are already filled by Green and Brian Pothier (Cam Barker, Dion Phaneuf), or would not be a visible upgrade (Andrew Ference, Chris Campoli). That being said if I were able to suggest a player to McPhee it would have to be Anton Volchenkov, who carries a pretty price tag for his hitting and shot-blocking abilities, but is worth every penny. At 27, the current Senator would fit in nicely as a long-term stay-at-home defenceman for the Capitals. Although The Capitals might have to pinch some pennies to make Volchenkov’s potential bidding-war friendly salary fit, they would have more room next season as Pothier, Morrisonn, and Jose Theodore are all defensive unrestricted free agents, and have the potential to come off the books.
It's always fun to watch an out of town fanbase collectively wave their boners in air clamouring for a Volchenkov trade without contemplating what it would actually take to acquire such a key cog for a Senators team that now has a 91.7-percent chance of making the postseason. Pony up McPhee!
Last night on TSN, Darren Dreger revealed his top ten list of players who are expected to be dealt before the March 3rd trade deadline. Myself and others have already gone on ad nauseum about how the Senators are pressed up against the cap and without any expendable pieces that other teams would give up good value for, Ottawa will be hard pressed to take on a player without moving a salary in exchange. However, Dreger's list has one noticeable exception to it:
- Ilya Kovalchuk
- Ray Whitney
- Peter Mueller
- Matt Stajan
- Alexei Ponikarovsky
- Matt Cullen
- Lubomir Visnovsky
- Sheldon Souray
- Ethan Moreau
- Marty Turco
Yes, Peter Mueller, the 8th overall pick in 2006 who currently has 3 goals and 10 assists and a -7 rating is available. Why? I'm not particularly sure, it probably has to do something with the Dave Tippett school of thought that only entrusts his veterans. Since putting up 22 goals and 32 assists in 2007-08, Mueller's totals have regressed for the past two years so a change of scenery may do him a lot of good.
An aside, has anyone else noticed the abundance of first round talent that never truly works out favorably for Phoenix? Names like Wheeler, Mueller, Tikhonov, and Turris immediately come to mind and I'm sure there are more names on the list. Anyways, I digress...
The cap hit on Mueller comes in at a reasonable $1.7M and he is an impending restricted free agent. If Bryan Murray can follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and fleece the Coyotes in a deal, he'll have to move a roster player to do it. So what would it cost to get Mueller?
My suggestion: Ryan Shannon, Brian Lee and a draft pick.
While I like Shannon because he's an affordable guy who can play with some skilled guys, he is an impending unrestricted free agent. Although the potential to disrupt chemistry on the second line with Regin and Kovalev is there, Mueller I think could step in and adequately replace his contributions. As for Brian Lee, he's like Mueller in the sense that a change of scenery might do him some good.
What's fair value from Ottawa for Mueller?
Senators 3, Devils 1
So here's The Situation: Ottawa's pretty juiced up after six consecutive wins and Sens fans are fist pumping the air with approval. It also works in Ottawa's favour that Jersey has a banged up roster that looks like it was assaulted on a boardwalk. The only thing going for the Devils these days is the fact that Marty Brodeur is once again carrying a roster of grenade launchers. For him to pull off a victory, he'll need a wingman. Unfortunately for him, I don't think it'll happen tonight. Finally, I'll throw myself out there and say that Jason "Giggles" Spezza will J-Woww fans with a hat trick, so when he does throw some Snickers on the ice. GTL Baby!
(Ed. note: I just had a Twitter follower inform me that I reneged on my promise to keep betting against Ottawa until they actually lose. I forgot to. My bad. Tonight's loss is on me.
Here are the lines for tonight's game: Michalek-Spezza-Alfredsson; Kovalev-Regin-Shannon; Foligno-Fisher-Cheechoo; Ruutu-Kelly-Neil-Donovan. Alexandre Picard is the healthy scratch on defence tonight as Anton Volchenkov returns after his one-game absence. Brian Elliott, the NHL's first star last week will make another start denying the media of a Brodeur versus Brodeur novelty story.
- Ottawa: GM Bryan Murray thought he solved his goaltending problems when he acquired Pascal Leclaire from Columbus last season. Unfortunately, Leclaire has proven to be physically fragile and the Sens have struggled at times. Brian Elliott has been inconsistent and his lackluster play of late opened the door for rookie Mike Brodeur. Can those two get the job done? Coach Cory Clouston (one of Gordon’s chief competitors for the Jack Adams) and company find a way to sneak into the post-season. ~ Jay Feaster, The Hockey News
- From Ottawa Senators blog The 6th Sens: "Nick Foligno and Anton Volchenkov kicking off contract negotiations last night at the Lac Leamy Casino." Thanks for the clarification, because this didn't look anything like the Washington Wizards' locker room. ~ Puck Daddy
- Peter Regin and Brian Elliott were both rewarded over at NHL.com with the goal and save of the week.
- Our Bloguin brethren, Five For Smiting, has dropped trou on that Bruce Garrioch article that discussed how Ottawa will be buyers at the deadline. SLC doesn't pull any punches and apparently I'm not exempt from criticism as he writes, openly mock everyone who tells you we should trade him for picks and prospects just because he's UFA come July (sorry Nichols), there is nobody tougher than The Bear. And thanks to Gary's stupidity in negotiating the salary cap with the NHLPA, a Hossa-esque front loaded 7 years, and $35M, with a pro-rated signing bonus ought to do it.
Yes. I'd love to see Mike Fisher out there killing penalties and shutting down the Latvian B-team's first line too.
What strikes me about this edition of the Sens is the team concept is very strong. For a long time over the past decade, this team had oodles of talent, but I always believed it was top-heavy in terms of relying on certain players. Under Clouston, he's given more people roles, and I think that's a big reason the Sens have survived an injury-riddled season; the team's success isn't reliant on a handful of players like in the past. It's truly a team.
Apparently Melnyk's optimism is rubbing off lately...