Tied for 5th place in the East.
Alfie 3 goals. Tits.
Ottawa Senataaaahs (24-21-4) Vs Tim Thomas' Massive Cranium (23-16-8) @ 1pm ET, Masshole Center; Television: Sens TV
Here is my prediction that ran as part of James Gordon's Ottawa Citizen prediction panel...
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.
Courtesy of ESPN's Pierre Lebrun, Sens fans have some news concerning Anton Volchenkov's contract negotiations. Here is what General Manager, Bryan Murray, told Lebrun,
"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 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.
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.
Here is the tracklisting for the podcast: Okkervil River Unless It's Kicks; New Bomb Turks Veronica Lake; The M's Big Sound; Josh Ritter Rumors.
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:
Here's my prediction that ran in James Gordon's Ottawa Citizen prediction panel...
Senators 2, Rangers 4
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.
As first reported by TSN's Brent Wallace, Eli Wilson has been fired as the goaltending coach of the Ottawa Senators.
Here is what head coach Cory Clouston had to say on the matter,
“I’m telling (you) right now: The responsibility doesn’t solely lie on Eli’s shoulders. I have to take some of that responsibility, I am part of the coaching staff obviously. I’m the head coach.It falls on my shoulders as well. We’re not solely blaming Eli. It appears that way, but to me we still have to find a way to make a change and this is part of the change.”
And here's GM Bryan Murray's take on the issue,
“Performance of the goaltenders in the organization had everything to do with it. I think Eli was a hard worker and paid a lot attention to it, but for some reason, both at the NHL level and American league level, we felt that the goaltenders weren’t where we thought they were going to be and where they have shown they can be.”
Alright, so I'm not going to pretend to be some goaltending guru or a guy who has any ability to contrast the impacts that the other various goaltending coaches have had for their respective NHL clubs, however, I may be one of the few who are asking, why now?
Why did the organization had to wait for a 5-game losing streak to fire the goaltending coach when the organization's goaltending situation has been in disrepair for years? Think about that for second. For all of the garbage that we've endured as Senators fans since the team's Cup Finals appearance in 2007, Wilson's credibility has never come into question until now? Why? Are we to believe that the Gerber / Auld duo could have been more underwhelming?
Like Bruce Garrioch mentioned on Off the Posts, it's easier to fire the goaltending coach than it is to fire the players. I never really want to revel in the fact that a guy lost his job but ultimately, the goaltending situation hasn't remedied itself during Eli Wilson's tenure and he deserves to shoulder the blame here. But, why now?
We survived the Martin Gerber era for God's sakes. Thanks to the timing of the move, I can't help but view Wilson as some sort of sacrificial lamb to appease the fans during this losing streak and absolve some of the blame from their goaltenders but he shouldn't be alone. After years of being able to duck behind John Muckler's incompetence, the time has come to hold Bryan Murray accountable for the job that he's done as a general manager.
As head coach of the Senators during that 06/07 season, Bryan was the one who had a first hand experience of Ray Emery and his reported antics that still took place when the team was winning. And when Murray assumed John Muckler's position as GM of the Senators, he didn't trade Ray Emery. Instead, he rewared him with a $9M+ 3-year contract and catered to him by hiring his personal goaltending coach. (For the record, I don't buy the argument that this recent losing streak was an easy opportunity to turf the guy who reportedly first got the job because he was Ray Emery's friend and mentor. If that were the case, Murray would have turfed the guy at the same time that he pulled the trigger on the Paddock and Hartsburg firings.)
And after Emery, fans were forced to endure years of Gerber and lest we forget Alex Auld - a cruel punchline to some joke discussing all of the inconsequential players who were at one point dealt for Roberto Luongo. Which brings us to Pascal Leclaire. A goalie who looked like he was finally starting to put things together before that ill-fated night when Mike Fisher ripped a clearing attempt upside Leclaire's visage. And since his return from the IR, Leclaire's been Gerber'esque at best. (Ed. note: I'm not writing Leclaire off here. I'm just saying he's played like shit.)
Although Eli could remain with the organization in some fashion consultant capacity for Cory Clouston, his tenure with the Senators likely ended when Bryan Murray pointed the finger of blame in his direction. And now that the blame game has started, don't be surprised to see more people start pointing their fingers in Bryan Murray's direction.
Senators 1, Thrashers 3
With the Rangers, Canadiens and Bruins still to come on this five-game roadtrip, the Thrashers (1-6-3 in last their past 10) represent the best opportunity to win. Regardless, until some of Ottawa's healthy bodies return, I'm going to be hard pressed to pick them to win. I can't even think of anything funny to say. I'm that depressed that I'm picking Atlanta to win.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Kings' cap space and war chest of talent have once again made them a logical (i.e. media-speculated) destination should Kovy be traded. Helene Elliott writes that the Kings would only want Kovalchuk as a long-term prospect and not a rent-a-star. Rudy Kelly is trying to figure out what a trade for the Russian star would cost, and believes a good starting point is Jack Johnson. ~ Battle of California, h/t to Puck Daddy