Earlier this season the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch dedicated an article that championed Mike Fisher's candidacy for a Team Canada Olympic roster spot. At the time, even the most ardent of Senators supporters dismissed Garrioch's notion like it was one of his Sunday rumour suggestions. Although Fisher was producing at such a torrid pace, he was also a notoriously streaky offensive contributor who was coming off a disappointing 2008-09 campaign in which he only registered 13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points. For Sens fans, there wasn't a question of if Fisher would stop producing, it was a question of when.
A funny thing has happened though, as the midway point of the season and as the Olympics draw near, Fisher's production hasn't waned. His torrid start has carried on and Fisher's still producing at close to a point-per-game clip. Through 31 games, he has 15 goals and 13 assists and is well on his to shattering his 2006-07 best 48 points. Even outsiders are noticing Fisher's production as TSN's resident number cruncher, Scott Cullen, has Fisher listed as the second most productive Canadian born center in the NHL behind Sidney Crosby this season. Cullen uses a complex formula to determine player rankings that are based on statistical production and are intended to value the impact a player has on the game.
While Fisher has always exhibited a physical dimension and some defensive prowess, his offensive numbers have allowed Fisher to surpass or at least be on par with other Team Canada bubble candidates. Have a look at the numbers...
- Mike Fisher -- 33 GP, 15 G, 13 A, 28 points, +9
- Brendan Morrow -- 34 GP, 13 G, 10 A, 23 points, +1
- Shane Doan -- 35 GP, 7 G, 12 A, 19 points, -6
- Brad Richards -- 32 GP, 10 G, 27 A, 37 points, -1
- Jeff Carter -- 31 GP, 11 G, 14 A, 25 points, -3
- Mike Richards -- 33 GP, 13 G, 14 A, 27 points, +4
- Martin St. Louis -- 34 GP, 6 G, 29 A, 35 points, -7
- Patrick Sharp -- 31 GP, 9 G, 15 A, 24 points, +10
- Jonathan Toews -- 26 GP, 9 G, 12 A, 21 points, +15
- Jordan Staal -- 35 GP, 10 G, 11 A, 21 points, +6
To help petition and raise public support for Mike Fisher's candidacy, a website called Mike Fisher for Team Canada 2010 was created. Here is the website's mission statement,
Hey, Steve Yzerman, GM of Team Canada, I believe Mike Fisher deserves serious consideration for Team Canada in Vancouver. He skates fast, hits hard, has a nice scoring touch and is having a career year with the Ottawa Senators. He's a team player through and through and his heart for hockey is as big as our country. Go for the Gold, GO CANADA GO!
Fisher 2010. Lend your support!
Tonight, Sens fans will get their first glimpse at what the next four to eight weeks might hold for a Spezza-less Senators team. Personally, I think it's frightening and regardless of how Ottawa performs, it has negative consequences. Allow me to explain. On one hand, if the Senators play well in his absence, Spezza naysayers win and they'll boast that he isn't a winner. If the team fares poorly, Ottawa could wind up outside of the playoff picture when Spezza returns. And to make matters worse, the team's first game without Jason will come against a Buffalo Sabres that likely won't feature Patrick Lalime between the pipes. Hopefully on the television broadcast of the game, they won't pan the camera onto Lalime on the bench, it'll bring back too many repressed memories. God, these next few weeks are going to be a blast...
Via Twitter, Brent Wallace helped perpetuate the notion that Ottawa may not miss Spezza that much because in 2007, the Senators went 9-3-2 without Spezza in the lineup. Although I'm sure that if he wasn't limited to 140 characters in his post, Brent would have recalled that the Senators were deeper, more talented and didn't feature a blueline with guys like Picard, Karlsson, Carkner or Campoli. Hell, even Jonathan Cheechoo scored 37 goals and 69 points in 2007. Shit changes.
To further update Spezza's situation, Sportsnet's Ian Mendes has confirmed that Spezza has a torn MCL in his right knee. So while it was speculated early on that Spezza would be on the shelf for 4 to 8 weeks, this tear will likely push his return back to that latter date.
"We're not expecting him back before the Olympics at this point," said Bryan Murray, who added he will not make a deal at this point and the answers will have to come from within. ~ Ottawa Sun
While that scenario isn't necesarily the most positive situation for Sens fans, at least we can feel fortunate that his ligament damage precluded his ACL. The good guys over at Silver Seven Sens raised an interesting point by stating that Spezza's absence will afford him the time to let his ailing back recuperate. From a superficial perspective, it's a great idea but Spezza's back is fine. People need to quit making excuses for his poor play. Right Brennan?
Here is the lineup for tonight's game: Michalek-Winchester-Alfredsson; Regin-Fisher-Kovalev; Ruutu-Kelly-Cheechoo; Campoli-Hennessey-Shannon. (Ed. note: No, you did actually read that correctly.) Chris Campoli will make his debut as a Senators forward in tonight's matchup because Nick Foligno is out with and undisclosed lower body injury. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Campoli drop back and log some powerplay time on the blueline. Hopefully this versatility will help increase Campoli's trade value more than it ever did for Christoph Schubert's.
''I felt something and then I tried to get up and skate but I had no power in it so I knew something was wrong and I went right off. It's always frustrating when you get hurt. It's part of the game but it's never easy. My game was coming around but everything happens for a reason so now I 've got to get better." ~ Jason Spezza
There's no question that the injury to Spezza will put an enormous amount of pressure on Mike Fisher. As if Fisher needs any more attention. It's not like he's dating Carrie Underwood or is coming off a terrible season and is already producing at rates well above his career norm. It's not too much to ask, right?
''It means we'll have to be more of a team than ever. We're going to have to have guys step up and play with structure." ~ Cory Clouston
Too Many Reminders of the Havlat Trade
First the injury to Patrick Wiercioch and now Josh Hennessey has been recalled by the Senators to take Spezza's roster spot on the Senators. With Hennessey's contract due to expire at the conclusion of this season, this could very well end up being Hennesey's last opportunity to play at the NHL level for the Senators organization. If you're going to make an impression Josh, now's the time to do it.
Ottawa Senators (16-11-4)
That Team Whose National Coverage Gets Shoved Down Your Throat (11-14-7)
Isn't it a tad early for Leafs fans to be jumping aboard the playoff bandwagon this season?
Nah, it's a great time to be a Leafs fan.
Brian Burke dealt away what could have been two lottery picks and a 2nd rounder for Phil Kessel. (As an aside, Phil Kessel's a great player. But even with Kessel, the Leafs may finish in a lottery position.) Dealing the picks wouldn't even be a concern if the organization was brimming with prospects. However, their golden boy, Luke Schenn is currently rotting away in the pressbox and Nazem Kadri is the only blue chipper in the system. Even if Jonas Gustavsson's future is clouded with doubt as he has already undergone his second corrective heart surgery in less than four months.
Had Toronto maintained their losing ways, it would have been conceivable to see Tomas Kaberle dealt away for a package involving prospects but because of his NTC and with the way their team is flirting with playoff contention, that doesn't look like it will be happening in the foreseeable future either.
But hey, they're in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and are teasing their fans with relevancy. Congratulations. Who knew that the allure of eighth place in the East and the inevitable first round sweep really enticing enough to overlook the future of the franchise? Apparently Brian Burke's predecessors were bad enough for fans to instill blind trust in whatever Burke says or does.
You would think that after years of ineptitude and falling just short of the postseason, that they've been conditioned for the inevitable disappointment of finishing as a nine to eleven seed. Or maybe it's just Leafs fans believe that it's their divine right to be on every HNIC broadcast since they've had their nuts suckled by every national sports media outlet for years.
Anyways, here's my prediction that ran in this morning's Citizen Prediction Panel...
Senators 4, Leafs 2Even though Toronto's 14th in the Eastern Conference, I'll give credit where credit is due. They have strung together some victories recently and have teased their fans with some relevancy. And I for one could not be happier. As much fun as it would be to rib Leafs fans for losing out on a lottery pick, it's sometimes easy to forget that Boston's also a division rival of Ottawa's and I would hate for them to be afforded that same luxury. Since Gustavsson is still recovering from his second ablation surgery and because Ottawa's highly paid offensive talents are finally starting to show some life, I'll pick the Senators. Besides, Alfie always seems to respond well to the incessant booing at the ACC.
Campoli remains a healthy scratch and Elliott will be back in nets.
Update: 4pm ET
Here's an interesting article penned by Bruce Firestone regarding why Leafs fans boo Alfredsson. My only qualm with the article is that Bruce should add a #6 to his list. They're assholes.
Puck Daddy Float Contest
The good folks over at Puck Daddy had an idea for a contest in which readers created Photoshopped float concepts for a Winter Classic Parade. We submitted a Flyers float entry (to view it click here) that features:
- John Stevens and Broad Street hanging from the gallows.
- the float being pulled by Emery's hummer which is in turn pulling Brian Boucher on a sinking ship.
- Chris Pronger wearing Mike Richards' captaincy
- Mike Richards and a porn star
- Pierre McGuire being flanked by Team Canada hopefuls Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne
- Ray Emery being flanked by Peter Laviolette who mentioned that he thinks that Ray was deserving of the third goalie role on Canada's Olympic entry.
- A Matt Bradley tombstone
- And the Liberty Bell redesigned using Chris Pronger's front teeth. Notice that the crack in the redesigned bell still exists.
If you haven't noticed, Alexei Kovalev's 400th is being celebrated around the League. After scoring goals 399, 400 and 401 in last night's victory over the Hurricanes, Kovy's 400th goal has not only made the front page of NHL.com, but people other than those parents who invested their hard earned cash in AK-27's DVD are championing his accomplishment like it's a big deal.
Personally, I think this whole situation is conflicting.
Since the moment that the ink dried on his 2-year $10 million pact, we've been conditioned to believe that Alexei Kovalev is an enigma, a career underachiever who'd cocktease you with his talent.
How am I supposed to celebrate him reaching this historic milestone when he was allegedly capable of so much more?
That Team That's Supported By Nascar Fans (7-18-6)
The Good Guys (15-11-4)
@ SBP, 7:00pm ET
If my name isn't included as part of my game day prediction, will it count against my record? That's a question that hangs over my prediction for tonight's Hurricanes versus Senators game as part of the Ottawa Citizen's Prediction Panel. Here's it is...
Senators 4, Hurricanes 3
With a 1-11-4 record, it's difficult to ignore how poorly Carolina performs away from home. They're like socially awkward homeschooled kids who have left the nest for the first time and can't quite keep up with their peers. While Cam Ward did play last night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Capitals, it works out in Ottawa's favour that the Canes had to play into extra-time and fly out immediately after the game. And even though the Senators have only scored 3 times in their past two games, the energy level and work ethic has surprisingly been there after their long and disappointing west coast road trip.
Lines at Practice:
The only change could be on defence. Allen Panzeri's reporting that Alexandre Picard will likely return from his injury tonight and if that's the case, Chris Campoli is the likely candidate to be made a healthy scratch.
Update from Ian Mendes' Twitter at 11:00am: Campoli is out as Picard draws back into the lineup. Elliott will start in nets.
Alfie Birthday Present
If you're going to the game tonight and want to give a belated birthday present to the Captain, go out and purchase a few pairs of blue dress socks and throw them onto the ice. You owe it to him.
"Right now, I need dress socks, especially blue ones. I'm running out of that, so that's high on my list," replied Alfredsson, who was celebrating his 37th birthday while the Senators prepared to play the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. ~ 680 News
Jason Spezza Coming To A Sens Chirp Rumour Near You
Here's some news about the future Steve Yzerman that should have sensationalist fans thinking that a trade request is in his future. According to the Ottawa Sun, Spezza has sold his Island Park mansion and is looking to relocate elsewhere...
Kovalev Television Appearance
According to TSN, AK-27 will be appearing on OTR on Monday, December 14th. Even though he's entertaining Don Brennan at least once a game, there's still one place where Kovalev is not appearing -- on scoresheets.
Fisher Carries The Torch
It was during a live experience where first I noticed that Mike Fisher seems to be more confident in holding onto the puck and using that extra second or half second to make smarter decisions with it. On Friday, Fisher even carried the Olympic torch 300 metres through Gatineau before turning it over to someone else. 300 metres! He's like a new man.
Episode III of The 6th Sens Podcast ft. Jared Cowen and Michael Sharp
Have you checked out the latest podcast yet? No? Well, wait the hell are you waiting for?
If you want to access our material from Itunes, you can do that here.
If you don't use Itunes, you can access the material by following this link.
Ben From Sens Army Takes Hiatus
On behalf of Tim, we'd like to extend some well wishes to Ben from Sens Army who is taking a leave of absence from his website. When I first started doing some writing and had sent out some emails to other writers looking for some link exchanges, Ben was the first one who actually responded to me. Anyways, we just want to wish Ben our best from The 6th Sens and hopefully we'll see him back in the fold sooner rather than later.
What better way for the city of Ottawa to celebrate number 11's 37th birthday by relishing in these Alfie moments or by taking part in some necessary actions.
1) Enjoy watching this video of the Captain, one-punching Leafs legend Dougie Gilmour in a fight.
2) Remember the infamous Alfredsson faux sticktossing incident.
3) Watch this video of Alfie scoring the game winning goal in game five of the 2007 Eastern Conference Final against Buffalo.
4) Recall during the bankruptcy scare years how Alfie deferred his salary so that Ottawa could afford to retain and add some pieces for the stretch drive. It's just unfortunate that Ottawa added Peter Bondra instead of an elite goaltender.
5) Screw Scott Niedermayer.
6) Alfie was the first Senator in modern history to win a major NHL award when he took home the Calder Trophy following the 1995-96 season in which he played in every game totalling 26 goals, 35 assists for 61 points.
7) Watch this memorable shift against Florida...
8) On March 29th, 2004 Daniel Alfredsson became the franchise leader in goals scored. Relive the memory through this video.
9) Sticking with the Tampa connection, on January 25th, 2008, Daniel Alfredsson put together a 7-point night.
10) Fans should start mailing their local city councillors in support of renaming Dalhousie, the street on which the Swedish embassy is located to Alfredsson Way. Think of it, it'll be the first positive connotation that Dalhousie has had in years.
11) Darcy Tucker + Hit from behind by #11 + no penalty + Alfie scores the game winning goal on the same shift = priceless