For those of you who have listened to the most recent episode of The 6th Sens Podcast, we are collecting messages via email from Senators fans who wish to express sentiments or their favorite memories of Anton Volchenkov while he wore a Senators jersey. Once these messages have been collected, we will then send them through the proper channels to ensure that they are received by Anton himself.
To get these messages in, you can access our email via the menu system at the top of our page. Or you can simply email the6thsens at live dot com.no comments
1) Last night I arrived at ScotiaBank Place at 6:30pm. Since my friend Gus (who had our tickets) was running late, I stood outside Gate 1 with my girlfriend awaiting his arrival and got to do a little people watching. Like any other game in which Montreal was playing, a large contingency of obnoxious douchebags descended upon Kanata brandishing their soccer chants and wide assortment of jerseys. At one point, my girlfriend asked what the CAC on the front of their jerseys stood for. I answered the only way I could, "I think that it stands for the Canadian Athletic Club. It's one of their retro jerseys that pays homage to their past. They have to though. It's all they have to fall back on."
2) As I continued to wait for my friend to show up with our tickets. I couldn't help but notice one fan wearing a Bryan Smolinski Habs jersey. In case you're wondering, Smolinksi only played one season in Montreal: scoring 8 goals and 17 assists in 64 games. Production that's hardly worth honoring with a customized uniform. Imagine if the Parti Quebecois leaders caught wind of this tool of American propaganda?
3) As easy as it is to make fun of Habs fans, I do have to give them credit. They have absolutely no qualms about shitting on the opposition's fans. Of all the fans who passed by the man wearing a Leafs jersey outside Gate 1, the only ones who had the nerve to publicly mock him were the Habs fans. (Ed. note: Mind you, they were probably three Schmirnoff Ices deep.)
4) Through the first couple of exhibition games, Ottawa's best players have been the ones who are vying for jobs on the fourth line. Zach Smith's play has been nothing short of fantastic and last night, it was Bobby Butler's turn to impress. If these players continue to demonstrate that they can play and have success at this level, it's going to be intriguing to see how the organization handles Ryan Shannon. As an incumbent who was under a lot of pressure to keep his job, it'd be a tough pill for Shannon to swallow if he lost his job due to injury. Shannon hasn't been cleared to play since having his head driven into the glass by Jay Rosehill during the second exhibition game against Toronto.
5) Speaking of Butler, his play last night steadily improved as the game went on. For all of the criticisms that the exhibition games get (ie. visiting teams never dressing their better players, lack of available television coverage, Jim O'Brien, etc.) seeing the expression of happiness on Butler's face after he scored on a penalty shot and returned to the bench to celebrate with his teammates is the kind of moment that I enjoy.
6) Regardless of how many Hfboards threads are devoted to the belief that Michalek and Spezza have chemistry. Don't believe it for a second.
7) The first game at SBP wasn't without its technical difficulties. The red lights used to signify goals weren't functioning. (Ed. note: Probably at the request of Habs management.)
7) After watching a few shifts, Gus remarked that "Jim O'Brien's skating is uglier than Mike Ricci." It's definitely not something that's easy on the eyes. Credit to O'Brien, the young prospect played his best game to date in a Senators uniform.
8) If you're a Senators fan who watched last night's game and you had a boner that lasted more than four hours, rest assured, you don't have to consult your doctor. Blame Nick Foligno and his two highlight reel goals. As Foligno continues his torrid preseason pace (4 goals in 3 games), it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. Instead of worrying about where he slots in right now, we should be hoping that his and Peter Regin's development affords the organization the flexibility to let Alexei Kovalev and his $5-million salary go on July 1st. (Ed. note: Perhaps reallocating the money to fill another need: goaltending? Second line center?)
9) Mike Hoffman may be small and (he's only listed at 175 pounds) but there are worse things in the world. The rookie displayed some serious poise on the second power play unit and showed enough to elicit some hope that he can eventually be a viable offensive threat at the NHL level.
10) First home game + first Chris Neil fight = first raise the roof celebration of the 2010-11 season. Off all the audio/visual cues provided to encourage noise at SBP, this is easily my favorite. A close second was the Carey Price soft goal.
11) Jared Cowen looks like a professional hockey player. Outlet passes. Check. Physical assertion. Check. In no way does he resemble David Hale. Check. It's a good thing too. Assuming he makes the squad, hopefully it will spare us from that sensationalist sports radio caller bullshit that can be spurred if Magnus Paajarvi starts the season well in Edmonton.
10) In the aftermath of last night's game, it boggles my mind that the Alfredsson hit on Maxime Lapierre is one of the least discussed aspects of the game.
11) It was the night of pokechecks. First there was the Carey Price pokecheck on Bobby Butler early in the game that elicited some Carey chants from the naive Montreal faithful. (Ed. note: Shortly thereafter, Spezza fittingly scored from behind the goalline.) Then there was another Price pokecheck on a partial Milan Michalek breakaway. And then there was the Sergei Gonchar one-on-one pokecheck that ran me through a mix bag of emotions: Oh no, there's a loose puck headed into the defensive zone! Phew, it looks like Gonchar should beat the Montreal forward to the puck! Wait, why is Gonchar slowing down? For godsakes, lean on him! Oh, no! <Diving pokecheck!> Elation! The crowd goes wild!
Underwood Video Release
I feel bad for the timing of Ian Mendes' article on why Mike Fisher is a good second line center. Had he held off for a few days, he could have used Mike Fisher's So Good. Sooooo Good as his headline.
If you're looking to find some preseason NHL stastistics, CBS Sports' website has the updated numbers. Nick Foligno is tied for the League lead in preseason goals with 4.
If Don Brennan is ever looking for a second career, he should dabble as a guy who comes up with nicknames for strippers. Ottawa's only played four exhibition games and he's already come up with three new nicknames: Slick Nick (Foligno), The Forgotten One (Jim O'Brien) and the E-Train (Eric Gryba).
Melnyk Issues Warning
According to CFRA's Josh Pringle, The Euge has penned a letter to the CEO’s and boards of directors at Biovail and Valeant - warning them that a merger between the two companies would negatively affect American and Canadian taxpayers and shareholders. Melnyk concludes the letter with these words, "Anyone who is in favor of the merger, can blow themselves up."
Training Camp Cuts
After the Senators play Buffalo in the Kraft Hockeyville game that takes place in Dundas, the team will announce their next round of cuts.
Jonathan Cheechoo Released
According to the Stars Blog, the Dallas Stars have released Jonathan Cheechoo from his professional try-out. Even though their braintrust felt that he could have made their team, they believed that it would be better to release Cheechoo because he was unlikely to play in a top six forward role. On behalf of all of us at The 6th Sens, it's a sad day. We were truly hoping that Cheechoo would catch on so Aaron, aka The Cheechoo Song Guy, would be able to add one more song to his repertoire.
Quote of the Day:
"He showed me he turns the puck over a lot and he's got to get over that." ~ Ron Wilson on Nazem Kadri
It's been made official: the soon to be Connecticut Whale... err... the Hartford Wolf Pack will now feature the best first pass in the AHL. Today it was announced that former Ottawa Senator, Wade Redden, has been put on waivers. With four years left on a contract that features egregious $6.5 million per season cap hit, the likelihood that another team puts a claim in on Redden is nil. You know things don't look good for Wade when the Carey Price situation in Montreal has a better chance of ending well.
It's not like I want to revel in this career setback either. (Ed. note: Granted, it is a tad easier on the conscience when an athlete accrues $39-million by the time his current contract expires.) It's a sad reality of the salary cap era that Wade's contract might be the only thing that keeps him from playing hockey in the NHL this season.
I know that for a number of Senators fans, Redden's name will forever be synonymous with Zdeno Chara because of John Muckler's inability to ink the Big Z. As easy as it is to shit on John Muckler and Redden proponents for:
- Buying into the League's emphasis on opening up the game and believing that the speedy, smaller and successful Buffalo Sabres team was the model of the future.
- Ignoring the fact that Chara finished the season with a broken wrist.
- Poor taste.
Another week, another edition of The 6th Sens Podcast. Joining us on this week's episode is Jay Grossman, president of PuckAgency and representative of both Ilya Kovalchuk and Anton Volchenkov. If you're in tune with the social media scene, you can check out the PuckAgency blog or you can follow Jay on Twitter (@jay_grossman). At the end of the podcast, we announce a feature that we'll be featuring on the website so be sure to come back and look for it later on today.
As always, you can subscribe/download/stream the episode or entire catalogue of episodes from Itunes. Or you can download the file by right-clicking and saving this file. Or you can simply stream the episode below. We hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions or comments about the podcast, please leave us some feedback in the comment thread below. Thanks for listening, we hope you enjoy the show.
Tracklist for the podcast: Final Flash When the Day Turns Black, Two Hours Traffic Noisemaker, Margot & The Nuclear So and So's New York City Hotel Blues, and **Syd Barrett Octopus.
** The story behind this track being selected is that during the editing process, I was watching some CBC special on the brilliance of octopi. I mentioned this via Twitter and one of our followers (@scottgdavey) suggested that this song would be apropos.
Today, Ian Mendes posted on his Sportsnet blog a story about how Mike Fisher is a pretty good second line center. The original piece can be found here, although I've copied and pasted the article below and will break it apart FJM style. Aside from the first headline, my thoughts will be in bold.
Mike Fisher may be No. 2 on Ottawa's centre depth chart, but he's No. 1 in Ian's heart. (Headline)
"Mike Fisher isn't really a No. 2 centre. He's a great third-line centre, masquerading as a top-six forward."
That statement has been uttered by every single Ottawa Senators fan at some point in the past 18 months. (Other popular lines inside Scotiabank Place include, "When are we getting a new scoreboard?" and "Hey - sit down and stop clapping. You're ruining it for everyone.")
Conspicuously absent from Ian's popular lines list is "Hey, there are 10 minutes left in the third. Better beat traffic."
Fisher, according to the vast majority of Ottawa fans, is a gritty centreman who doesn't put up the offensive numbers generally associated with players in the top six. But because Fisher is being paid like a top-six forward ($4.2 million cap hit), head coach Cory Clouston has to pencil him in as the No. 2 centre every night.
There is only one problem with this line of thinking: It's completely false.
It is completely false. Fisher isn't the second line because of his paycheck. It's because the other alternatives, like Kelly and Winchester, share a characteristic with the Venus De Milo. They simply lack hands.
Not only is Fisher a legitimate second-line centre -- he's one of the better ones in the NHL. And yes, I'm speaking of Fisher from an offensive standpoint.
Somehow in this twisted world of ours, we've created a bizarre set of unrealistic expectations for our second-line centres. We expect them to be playmakers who are offensively gifted. A lot of us are still stuck in the early 1990s mode of thinking when second-line centres were guys like Ron Francis, Craig Janney, John Cullen and Sergei Fedorov. When the Habs won their Stanley Cup in 1993, their second-line centre was Stephane Lebeau, who racked up 80 points during the regular season.
Note to self: Ron Francis, Craig Janney, John Cullen, Sergei Fedorov and even Stephane Lebeau... all more offensively gifted than Fish.
Even after the high-scoring days of the early 1990s ended, we expected second-line centres to be offensively-oriented. A perfect example was a guy like Andrew Cassels, who was seemingly the answer to every team's second-line woes on trade deadline day. Cassels continued to perpetuate the stereotype of the soft, play-making centre who needed to be the anchor of the second line. That is the image that many of us still have today.
For those of you who are too young to remember Andrew Cassels, he's like the retro version of Robert Lang. Albeit, he has the distinction of making a productive player out of Geoff Sanderson. How many centers out there can say that?
But perception and reality are two different things.
Much like unicorns, Big Foot or a local investor for the Phoenix Coyotes, a second-line centre is a mythical creature. That idealized version of the No. 2 centre doesn't exist in today's NHL. We created him in our minds and we can't seem to get rid of him.
Reality and perception are two different things. However, I would like to know this: If the second line center is a mythical creature, who are those overpaid clowns masquerading as first line centers around the league? Anyone who has watched Tomas Plekanec or RJ Umberger play can testify as to what I'm talking about.
To verify my claim, I decided to do a little bit of research, looking at the statistics from last year's regular season. I added up the point totals for each team's second-line centre and the numbers it yielded were interesting to say the least.
The average second-line centre in the NHL had the following statistical line from 2009-10:
My guess is that most people would predict those numbers would have been a bit higher. But try to remember, this isn't 1994 anymore.Duly noted: There's no Stefan Lebeau walking through that door.
Fisher's season total of 25-28-53 put him well ahead of the average second-line centre in goals. Fisher's five-year average since the lockout has seen him produce an average of 21 goals and 45 points. (Numbers that would be higher if you removed his atypical 2008-09 season when he was an underachiever and suffered through an off-year. It's safe to call him a fairly consistent 20-25 goal scorer in the NHL.)
Fisher's offensive production put him alongside some of the best second-line centres in the NHL last season. He fits right in with the following list of players whom I feel are the best second-line centres in the game. (This includes players like Patrick Sharp and Danny Briere, who often switch between centre and wing, but for the purposes of this piece, I considered them centres).
For the purposes of this article, I'm going to give you the stats from the past three years for each of the following players that Ian mentions.
Ryan Kesler: 25 goals, 75 points ($5 million cap hit)
- 80 GP: 21 G, 16 A, 37 pts
- 82 GP: 26 G, 33 A, 59 pts
- 82 GP: 25 G, 50 A, 75 pts
- Totals: 244 GP, 72 G, 99 A, 171 pts = 0.701 points-per-game or approximately 57.482 points over a full season (0.701 x 82 GP)
Patrick Sharp: 25 goals, 66 points ($3.9 million)
- 80 GP: 36 G, 26 A, 62 pts
- 61 GP: 26 G, 18 A, 44 pts
- 82 GP: 25 G, 41 A, 66 points
- Totals: 223 GP: 87 G, 85 A, 172 pts = 0.771 PPG = approximately 63.222 points over a full season
Tim Connolly: 17 goals, 65 points ($4.5 million)
- 48 GP: 7 G, 33 A, 40 pts
- 48 GP: 18 G, 29 A, 47 pts
- 73 GP: 17 G, 48 A, 65 pts
- Totals: 169 GP, 42 G, 100 A, 142 pts = 0.840 PPG = approximately 68.88 points over a full season
Brooks Laich: 25 goals, 59 points ($2.1 million)
- 82 GP: 21 G, 16 A, 37 pts
- 82 GP: 23 G, 30 A, 53 pts
- 78 GP: 25 G, 34 A, 59 pts
- Totals: 242 GP, 69 G, 80 A, 149 pts = 0.61 PPG = approximately 50 points over a full season
Danny Briere: 26 goals, 53 points ($6.5 million)
- 79 GP: 31 G, 41 A, 72 pts
- 29 GP: 11 G, 14 A, 25 pts
- 75 GP: 26 G, 27 A, 53 pts
- Totals: 183 GP, 68 G, 82 A, 150 pts = 0.82 PPG = approximately 67.24 points over a full season
Mike Fisher: 25 goals, 53 points ($4.2 million)
- 79 GP: 23 G, 24 A, 47 pts
- 78 GP: 13 G, 19 A, 32 pts
- 79 GP: 25 G, 28 A, 53 pts
- Totals: 236 GP, 61 G, 71 A, 132 pts = 0.559 PPG = approximately 45.83 points over a full season
Patrice Bergeron: 19 goals, 52 points ($4.7 million)
- I'm not going to bother doing Bergeron's past three seasons because his numbers have been skewed due to recurring concussion problems. To his credit though, he has posted two 70-point seasons over the course of his career.
Joe Pavelski: 25 goals, 51 points ($4 million)
- 82 GP: 19 G, 21 A, 40 pts
- 80 GP: 25 G, 34 A, 59 pts
- 67 GP: 25 G, 26 A, 51 pts
- Totals: 229 GP, 69 G, 81 A, 150 pts = 0.65 PPG = approximately 53.3 points over a full season
As you can see by the numbers, the three year average for Mike Fisher isn't far off the 45 point career mark referred to by Mendes. From the players that Ian listed as elite second liners, Fisher's point production per game average is the worst of the lot. If you were to take their 3-year sample size point-per-game average and project this over the course of a full 82-game season, you'd see that Fisher would produce 5 to 20 points less than these peers.
Please note that this isn 't a personal condemnation of Fisher. He's a good player who has consistently demonstrated throughout his career that he can average 45-points a season playing with whomever. Regardless of whether he's lining up with Kovalev or Chris Neil, Fish continues to post numbers near his career average. Frustrating fans in the process by failing to produce at levels that match the physical tools that he possesses.
More importantly, of the names that Ian mentioned in his short list, it any coincidence that their respective teams (sans Fisher and Connolly) are considered to be threats to win their respective divisions?
There is a wide array of players who make up the second-line centres in the NHL. Some like Evgeni Malkin and Vincent Lecavalier are only second-line centres because they play behind Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos respectively. And there are others like Scott Gomez and Chris Drury who have been relegated to second-line status, even though they are paid like first liners.
Hmm, players from Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. (Ed. note: Detroit being another with Datsyuk and Zetterberg.) All teams that have won recent Stanley Cups because of the depth and production that they have had at the center position.
But that group of players listed above represents established centres who are in the prime of their careers, with fairly well-defined roles as second-line centres. Suddenly, Fisher's productivity and salary seem to be well in line with his counterparts around the league.
We need to change our perception of what we expect from a second-line centre. And once that is done, you will realize that Mike Fisher is a pretty good one.
I don't see any of this as an affront to Fisher. I think it's more of a matter of winning and competing for a Stanley Cup. I think the question can be fairly asked. For the Ottawa Senators to take the next step to the elite/contender level, do they have to get more production from that second line center position? (Ed. note: It would also take some of the weight off of Jason Spezza's shoulders. With the amount of scrutiny that he'll be under this season, it could only help.)