According to Ian Mendes, Milan Michalek's condition has been upgraded and he is now likely to return tomorrow night against the St. Louis Blues. As tempting as it would be to throw him on a line with some skilled guys, the truth is, the team's lines are all rolling right now. Whether it's the Ruutu-Kelly-Neil line, the Shannon-Regin-Kovalev line or the Foligno-Fisher-Alfie line, there's no question that these trios have developed chemistry and confidence thereby allowing the Senators to remain competitive in spite of the team's numerous injuries.
With Michalek drawing in, I would assume that Shean Donovan will draw out of the lineup. Here's hoping that Clouston rewards Zach Smith's strong play with a more skilled linemate in Michalek. (Ed. note: even when Spezza comes back next week, I would love to see him get slotted in with Michalek and either of Cheechoo or Smith.)
A Euge Update?
Thanks to James Gordon, the Sens Army have been blessed by some unintentionally funny Eugene Melnyk quotes like,
"If you really look at it, take any roster in the NHL and wipe out their top line, wipe out one of their best faceoff people, one of their best defencemen and, just for fun, take out their two goalies. Please, what do you expect?"
Hilarious stuff. There's more good news though, apparently The Euge is finally contemplating the purchase of a HD scoreboard. Kudos to The Euge for being receptive to the idea. The last time someone suggested a change was needed, he told fans to blow themselves up.
Milestone For Garrioch
According to Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy, Bruce Garrioch accounts for 94% of all trade rumours emanating from the Great White North. Congratulations Boo Boo on this significant achievement. I can only imagine that Al Strachan is shedding a tear somewhere right now.
Game On! (34-11-4) Vs Take It Easy On Us (25-21-4) @ 7:30pm ET, SBP; Television: Rogers Sportsnet
The summer of 2005 was an exciting time to be a Senators fan. The NHL labour strike had just ended, salaries had been rolled back, Bettman and the league had promised to promote skill and talent through by reinforcing the rules and eliminating clutch-and-grab hockey, and Ottawa's roster was loaded with talent. For the first time ever, the Senators had a legitimate number one goalie who had Hall of Fame credentials. On August 23rd, Marian Hossa who was arbitration eligible and signed a 3-year $18M contract at the twelvth hour before the hearing was dealt by John Muckler to Atlanta for the young Dany Heatley.
Hossa was understandably livid. He was a fan favorite who wanted to remain in Ottawa and had negotiated his deal in good faith. He was blindsided and devastated with the news. As difficult as it was to see Hossa go, fans were blissed out by the fact that Ottawa had rid itself of Greg DeVries' salary and had acquired a Canadian who was labelled as a power forward. Considering that the Senators organization was still reeling from their consecutive playoff losses to the Maple Leafs, fans were ready to see their team lose the stigma of being a soft team to play against. So when John Muckler signed Heatley to his 3-year $13.5M contract, fans were dancing in the streets.
Little did we as Senators fans know that the 2005-06 season would be the most devastating in franchise history. Between Hasek's adductor injury at the Olympics, Ottawa being upset in the second round by the Buffalo Sabres and watching the organization not do everything in their power to resign Zdeno Chara, the Senators were on their road to mediocrity. Only we didn't know it at the time.
Now that Heatley has gone and Hossa has returned to Ottawa, it's interesting to note that karma has come full circle and kicked our ass almost five years later.
Has anyone else noticed that a good indicator for a hockey team that's destined for big things when past-their-prime actors make a habit of attending games to keep themselves in the limelight? I call it the Vince Vaughn rule. (Case in point - have you seen Matthew Perry lately?) Even though Ottawa has strung together three inspired efforts against some middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference teams, it's implausible to pick against the League's best team that has strung together a record of 8-1-1 in their last 10.
Expect to see the same lines that were employed against Boston: Shannon-Regin-Kovalev; Foligno-Fisher-Alfie; Ruutu-Kelly-Neil; Donovan-Smith-Cheechoo. Brian Elliott is back between the pipes ce soir and Picard is the odd man out on the blueline.
Returning to the Fold
While Jason Spezza is likely due to return in the next week to ten days, Ian Mendes is reporting via Twitter that Milan Michalek has an outside chance of playing on Thursday night versus the Blues but is more likely to return from injury on Saturday night in a rematch against the Bruins.
"I think what has happened during this period of time is that we've seen some young guys step up and play pretty well, given the opportunity, so maybe our need isn't quite what it was," Murray said.
"You see Zack Smith play (against Montreal), you see Peter Regin play on a regular basis, Nick Foligno looks like he's starting to get back to where he was a year ago.
"I don't know when we'll get a chance to see our full team, when we'll have everyone healthy, but, at the end of the day, it would be nice to see what we have." ~ Ottawa Citizen
As these integral pieces of the roster return, it's going to be interesting to see how Cory Clouston and Bryan Murray handle the young forwards who have proven apt when called upon to play a significant role. Is Peter Regin likely to remain in the Senators top six? Will Zach Smith be returned to Binghamton? Or will Clouston scratch a guy like Shean Donovan and keep Smith around in a fourth line/PK capacity?
In Elliotte Friedman's latest blog for the CBC, he uses his 30 thoughts bit to hit on a number of Senators related points including the goaltending situation. Here they are:
2. The Ottawa Senators are doing some serious due diligence on Clint Malarchuk. Bryan Murray coached him in Washington, but is contacting everyone he can to determine his state of mind. There is no questioning Malarchuk’s ability to coach goalies. Pascal Leclaire’s best performances came under his tutelage in Columbus, and Roberto Luongo swears by him, too. The concern: Malarchuk’s had some serious off-ice health issues, culminating in an October 2008 self-inflicted gunshot wound. (He said it was an accident.) There are a lot of people rooting for him to make it back.
3. Other possible contenders for the Ottawa job: Tom Dempsey, who was Marc-Andre Fleury’s junior coach and lives there; John Stevenson, who has a history with Cory Clouston and used to work with Edmonton; and Roland Melanson, who is in Florida. That’s not necessarily a problem, because the Senators want a consultant who travels around to see all their guys, rather than a full-time coach.
4. What I would really like to know is this: What is the problem the Senators have with Ron Tugnutt? Last summer, Tugnutt turned down three NHL jobs – Edmonton, Florida, Anaheim – because he wanted to be close to his sons, both midget-aged players. Ottawa is an easy setup for him. He played there and wants the position. But, this is the fourth time he’s applied, and they’re not interested.
5. In Leclaire’s last game, a 6-1 loss to Atlanta, he threw up his hands in frustration after an Anton Volchenkov mistake led to a goal. That didn’t go over well. No one on that team is more unselfish than Volchenkov. You never show up a guy like that.
12. There were rumblings that Daniel Alfredsson would sit out the Olympics to heal up for an Ottawa playoff run. He says no way, not true.
13. Really like when teams bring the players’ fathers on road trips. Laughed Saturday when Hasse Alfredsson was in the concourse when Daniel scored. (He’s probably seen a few.) Daniel said that Hasse – his youth hockey coach – would go harder on him as an example to the players, knowing his son could handle it. Mike Fisher said his father, Jim (never his coach), always accentuated the positive. Clearly, there’s room for different philosophies.
19. No doubt that Jacques Martin regretted saving Mike Brodeur’s career on Saturday night. Last season, as the Panthers GM, Martin brought Brodeur to AHL Rochester. The goalie, 25 at the time, was contemplating retirement.
28. Last year, when Luke Schenn scored his first NHL goal in Montreal, I tracked down his parents for reaction. Tried the same thing with Zack Smith’s parents in Maple Creek, Sask. Their phone was busy for two hours. Who doesn’t have call waiting anymore?
As a blogger, I've never been much of a fan for writing post game pieces because you guys have all watched the game(s) and don't need to be told that player A scored or that player B did or didn't play well. Besides, most of you already objectify what you watch by referring to the game boxscore. Besides, the Associated Press write their recaps so much more concisely than I could ever aspire to.
So, in an effort to create a recurring feature and help promote some creative comments and discussion, I want to try something else. Following each game, Tim or I will post a post-game haiku poem to recap a game using the 5-7-5 syllabic rule for haikus. In the comment thread for each piece, I want you - the reader - to post your own haiku recapping the game.
Here's an example of the Bruins recap:
Thomas' streak done. Tied for 5th place in the East. Alfie 3 goals. Tits.
Tim Thomas' 11-game winning streak against the Ottawa Senators should prove to be a good litmus test for whether Mike Brodeur's Cinderella story is too good to be true. One streak will come to an end and even though today's game starts at 1pm, I'm wagering that Brodeur turns into a pumpkin sooner rather than later.
While Jason Spezza is reportedly a week or so away from a return, today's game will thankfully mark the expected return of defenceman Filip Kuba. Although it should be noted that the previous sentence shouldn't be read with flattery for Kuba. It's more a condemnation of the Chris Campoli / Erik Karlsson defensive tandem. Watching these two defend their end is more painful than watching Sportsnet try and convince us that Nick Kypreos is a compelling broadcast interviewer.
Here are the expected lines for this afternoon's game: Foligno-Fisher-Alfredsson; Shannon-Regin-Kovalev; Ruutu-Kelly-Neil; Donovan-Smith-Cheechoo. If Kuba makes his return to the lineup this afternoon, I expect Chris Campoli to be a healthy scratch. Mike Brodeur gets the nod in nets.
"I'm hoping this week to have some concrete discussions in that regard," Sens GM Bryan Murray told ESPN.com on Saturday.
And here is how Murray responded to the media's assessment of now being a good time to move Kovalev,
"He's not going anywhere, Alex is a real good player for us," said Murray. "He's a talented player. That's why we signed him. He gives that dimension on the second line that we were looking for."
No way! You mean that with Ryan Shannon's impending unrestricted free agency and only Peter Regin who projects as a NHL ready top six guy, Murray doesn't feel compelled to move Kovalev this year? Get the hell out?!
More Rumours: Let's Get E-Tarded in Here
According to Bruce Garrioch, you can add Petr Sykora's name to the growing list of veteran bags of crap that Bryan Murray reportedly has interest in. Which makes a lot of sense because it's always fun to add a former 20-goal guy who was a healthy scratch during the Penguins playoff Cup run last season. Especially when a similar one-dimensional player in Miroslav Satan could have been signed without having to move any assets.
With the March 3rd trade deadline approaching quickly, everyone's favorite anonymous rumour source is hot and heavy with some names and locations that typically have a 3-percent chance of coming to fruition. Here's the latest on the Senators, they are also in heavy on Jack Johnson and they are working out a deal which I have heard "could be done in 48 hours."(e3)
The Hockey News' Ryan Dixon has penned an article detailing the Ottawa Senators' situation. For the purposes of this website, I've posted the original column below and my thoughts will be in bold.
It’s easy to dump on a team that has lost five straight games – by a combined score of 22-5, no less – as the Ottawa Senators have entering Thursday night’s tilt versus the New York Rangers.
No kidding. Things have been so bad, fans are clinging to the hope that Mike Brodeur's feel good story in the same way that I used to cling to the hope that Evgeni Davydov and Scott Levins would someday prove to be a decent return for Bob Kudelski. (Ed. note: I learned my lesson at a young age that trades never would out for the better. I was exceptionally young when Kudelski, who at the time was on pace for 50 goals in the 1993-94 season was dealt at the All-Star break to Florida. To make matters worse, the trade couldn't have occurred after the All-Star Game. Fans had to endure watching Kudelski play wearing a Panthers uniform. It was my first kick in the nuts as a Senators fan. Looking back, I'm convinced that Mark Gandler negotiated a Alexei Yashin has to be the highest scoring player on the team clause in the rookie's contract. It's the only explanation here.)
But taking shots at the Sens is more of a fish-in-a-barrel exercise because their captain and best player is crowding 40, the team can’t get a save from any of its goalies, their No. 1 defense pair would be fantastic if they were your No. 2 set, their big, talented No. 1 center just can’t seem to fully get it and they’re the most recent team to employ Alex Kovalev.
Your 2009-10 Ottawa Senators!!!! What else can be said other than ouch? If you needed a reason why the Senators fanbase psyche is softer than a Filip Kuba check, Ryan Dixon just laid it out in the aforementioned paragraph. The sad thing is that the bulk of what he says is true. Sure, that part about Kovalev is overkill and there's still time for Spezza to develop into a player who can learn defence, make the players around him better and affect games when he's not putting up points. But hey, at least Mr. Dixon didn't mention that Antoine Vermette currently has more points than anyone on the Senators roster.
I think I need a prorogation to catch my breath.
Okay, this is where it gets confusing for me. I thought that shitting on the Ottawa Senators was a fish-in-a-barrel exercise? Now Dixon wants a rest after spending 90 seconds Googling and rehashing Ottawa's problems using 70 words? Christ, even Wade Redden works harder than this. Stick to Twitter's 140 characters man. Right now, Ottawa is lumped in with a whole mess of bland teams battling it out for seeds five through eight in the Eastern Conference and I’m sure they’re fully capable of nabbing one of those spots. Daniel Alfredsson is expected back from a shoulder injury soon, Mike Fisher is going to break this 14-game goalless drought at some point and, well, the other teams in the hunt aren’t exactly the ’87 Oilers.
Ryan's article was dated on Thursday, January 14th. Prior to Ottawa's game against the Canadiens. He shouldn't be a writer / copy editor for THN, he should have his own psychic hotline.
Maybe it’s just my line of thinking here, but I don’t believe the way to distinguish yourself from the ordinary is by trying to squeak into the playoffs in order to play the role of sacrificial lamb to an actual good team.
No argument here. Getting knocked out of the first round of the playoffs won't do anything for me as a fan.
If you’re truly interested in emerging from the pack, hold a mirror up to your organization, ask yourself if you’ve got the horses to be really, really good any time soon, then make bold moves accordingly.
If someone told me at the beginning of the year that Matt Carkner and Mike Brodeur would have significant roles by mid-January for a playoff bound Senators team, I would have put in a call to the NHL and told them to start engraving Cory Clouston's Jack Adams Trophy.
The Ottawa Senators played most of the last decade as a team that could legitimately go to bed believing it had a chance to win it all. It didn’t happen, as we all know, and since failing in the 2007 final, they’ve been on a constant slide to Mudville, otherwise known as the realm of mediocrity.
Mudville? Weak. Where's the hockey connotation? If one's going to rip on mediocrity and reference Ottawa, mention Vanier or something. Jeez.
Ottawa has a great captain in Alfredsson, but he’s 37 years old and the chances this team can rebuild its blueline and solve its goaltending situation over a timeframe where he’s still a great player is very, very slim.
At least Ryan didn't criticize Erik Karlsson's Taylor Swift-like frame for also being very, very slim. I'll touch on the state of the blueline later in this article, but as well as Mike Brodeur is playing, it's still way too early to write off Pascal Leclaire. The Sens originally became an annual threat by building up from the ground and it’s time for this franchise to get back to earth. This team is nowhere near good enough to win it all now or any time soon. And gauging success by anything less than that standard is a waste of everybody’s time, unless you’re absolutely desperate for the revenues produced by a couple home playoff dates each spring.
Ottawa could fetch a mess of picks and prospects for guys like Alfredsson and battle-tested warrior Chris Phillips. And hey, kick the tires on Jason Spezza (currently out of the lineup with a knee injury), because as much as he doesn’t fit the bill of a franchise-defining center and captain, another team could identify his terrific skill as a wonderful accessory to the talent and leadership it already posses.
By suggesting that Ottawa trade Alfie, Dixon shows how out of touch he is with the situation and fans here. It'd be management's way of giving the middle finger to Sens fans. Besides, the aforementioned trade scenario is about as plausible as trading a first round pick for Chris Campoli and an unrestricted and banged up Mike Comrie since these respective players are protected by no-trade clauses. Also, the assumption that it'd be easy to get picks and prospects for a player like Spezza is a bit naive. With his cap hit, Ottawa would either have to absorb some kind of salary dump to offset his cost or find a team well below the cap ceiling to make a move. Not easy stuff. Instead of moving these pieces, it'd be easier for the team to look at moving guys like Kelly, Shannon and Volchenkov without jeopardizing too much of the short term success. (Ed. note: I'm assuming that moving Volchenkov would fetch a nice return.)
Last year, when The Hockey News ranked every teams’ prospects in our annual Future Watch edition, Ottawa finished right smack in the middle, 15th of 30 teams
Which in the bigger scheme of things means sweet fuck all but go on...
There’s that mediocrity again.
This is the part where Dixon neglected to mention that the team jumped half of the League to get into the middle of the prospect rankings in order to substantiate his argument.
Moving some capable bodies out while they’re still in demand would do wonders to re-stock the shelves and jump-start a rebuild that could eventually allow this team to regain its status as a league power.
Starting anew is always a painful process, but it’s tempered by the optimism and excitement of actually working toward something, rather than clinging to what once was as it slowly withers away.
Sure, there's not really a difference making prospect that fans can gravitate to but it's wrong to ignore the fact there is a process that is sort of underway. The back end with Lehner, Cowen, Karlsson and Wiercioch appears to be in decent shape moving forward and there are a few pieces like Petersson and Silfverberg who look like they could be players. The problem doesn't appear to be the quality or quantity, it's the fact that none of the aforementioned pieces are likely to have significant impacts for two to four years.
A fresh start would do wonders for the Sens; the same can’t be said for a playoff berth this spring.
True but if Ottawa finishes in the playoffs and makes a trade to move up in the draft and snag a top 3 to 5 pick, this THN article would be moot.
If you ever have a hockey opinion that you want to share, fire it to us in an
and we'll publish it if it's worthy.
If you ever want to feel better about our drafting under the Muckler regime, take a look at this:
Year, Prospect, Rank
2007 – Traded for Toskala
2006 – Tlusty (13)
2005 – Rask (21) trade for Raycroft
2004 – Traded for Leetch
2003 – Traded for Nolan
2002 – Steen (24)
2001 – Colaiacovo (17)
2000 – Boyes (24) traded for Nolan
1999 – Cereda (24)
1998 – Antropov (10)
1997 – Traded for Clark
1996 – Traded for Yushkevich
1995 – Ware (15)
1994 – Fichaud (16)
1993 - Jonsson (12)
1992 - Convery (8)
1991 - Traded for Kurvers (turned out to be Niedermayer) 1990 - Berehowsky (10)
1989 - Thornton (3), Rob Pearson (12), Bancroft (21)
1988 - Scott Pearson (6)
~ Trevor from Toronto
When I first opened this email, I shuddered a bit. Typically I never want to see the words look at this followed by Jiri Tlusty's name.
Are you concerned with the amount of abuse that you've inflicted on your eyes over the past two weeks by watching Senators hockey? Well, give those eyes a break and engage yourself in some unadultered audio bliss with latest installment of the The 6th Sens podcast. In the lastest episode, Tim and I enjoy a 6th Sens first and are joined by a member of the print media, the Ottawa Citizen's Wayne Scanlan. It's been a pretty tumultuous week, so sit back and listen to the three of us dissect matters like Eli Wilson's firing, the Senators current 5-game losing streak, the Bryan Murray/Eugene Melnyk vision for the organization and Cito Gaston's inability to manage a bullpen.
Fuck We Suck (22-21-4) vs If Wade Redden Scores Tonight I May Cry Myself To Sleep (22-17-7) @ 7pm ET, MSG; Television: Rogers Sportsnet
Like Cory Clouston said after a loss earlier in the week, anything that can go wrong, is going wrong. If you haven't heard, Pascal Leclaire will not be able to make his scheduled start tonight because of an errant Mike Fisher shot that rang off of Leclaire's mask in practice. To compound matters, Brian Elliott has the flu and will not be able to playing so the team has been forced to recall Mike Brodeur from Binghamton to make an emergency start.
There are so many things to hit on here, so bear with me:
No further evidence is needed to prove that the old Mike Fisher is back. He's reverted back into that streaky point producer who has an uncontrollable howitzer of a shot. In typical Mike Fisher fashion, he missed high and hit Leclaire in the face...again. At least this time Leclaire was fortunate enough to be wearing a mask.
More importantly, why is Mike Fisher and his wild 9,0322,232 mph slapshot even allowed to take shots at a Senators starting goaltender during a game day practice?
It's also affirmed that Pascal Leclaire has joined the likes of Magnus Arvedsson, Sami Salo, Martin Havlat, the pre-1999 version of Daniel Alfredsson and Damian Rhodes' confidence as one of the most historically brittle pieces of Senators property.
There's no update on Leclaire's condition yet, however, if he's due for more cosmetic surgery, I won't complain. I'll still embrace him even if he becomes our own walking plastic corpse like Joan Rivers.
I like Cory Clouston's thinking. By giving the team a puckless practice at Central Park yesterday, neither Elliott or Leclaire were afforded the opportunity to let in a soft goal. Unfortunately, I don't think that will carry over into the game tomorrow night. Besides, the Rangers have lost once in regulation in the past 10 games and Henrik Lundqvist is likely to be between the pipes in an important game.
Here are the lines tonight: Shannon-Regin-Kovalev; Foligno-Fisher-Neil; Ruutu-Kelly-Cheechoo; Daugavins-Smith-Donovan.
By the Numbers:
Last night, as Tim and I recorded the latest The 6th Sens Podcast episode ft. Wayne Scanlan of The Ottawa Citizen (that I'm uploading to the servers now and will be available later tonight), Tim and I crunched some numbers after looking at the schedule and standings.
Prior to the Olympic break, there are 15 games in 30 days (including tonight's affair). Here they are: New York Rangers; Montreal; Boston; Chicago; St. Louis; Boston; New Jersey; Pittsburgh; Montreal; Buffalo; Vancouver; Toronto; Calgary; Washington; and Detroit. Of these games, how many are legitimately winnable with the current roster and a banged up Alfie, Spezza and Michalek? Five? Maybe six?
Ottawa currently has 48 points in 47 games. Say Ottawa wins five games out of the next fifteen and gets 10 points. That'd leave the Senators with 58 points in 62 games. Now using last year's barometer for making the playoffs at 92 points, Ottawa would have to get 34 points in their last twenty games. Translation: they'd have to win 85% of their games after the Olympic break. While all this number crunching is fine and dandy, it really puts things into perspective regarding how poorly the Senators are playing and how easily the next stretch of difficult games can put them behind the 8-ball. If Ottawa's going to make a run here, they better start turning things around quickly.