Sunday, December 31, 2006
All the best to all visitors and commenters during the coming year. Hopefully, at least the Leafs find better fortune and if they do not then please let the sens continue to struggle!
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
The real story facing both squads is the injury bug that has been slowly picking the teams apart. The sens have Wade Redden trying to return to form (not this year's form) after a layoff, Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher have matching 4-6 week prognoses (what a prescient post) leaving Chris Kelly as the top line centre and that will not help Jay sleep tonight. And don't forget that Ray Emery still seems to be nursing his wrist injury and God knows The Gerber Baby cannot step in to give him some time off.
Meanwhile, the good guys are suffering a worse crisis as Michael Peca is out for 3 months with a broken leg (no accompanying knee injury), The Soviet Bloc of Pony and Antro are week to week with shoulder and ankle injuries, Kyle Wellwood has some mystery hip ailment, and Darcy Tucker has one bruise too many. For those keeping track, that means five of the Leafs pre-season top six forwards are out. This means that for the forseeable future the Leafs will feature more Marlies than Leafs. If history is anything to go by the call-ups will play above their heads only to watch the Leafs stumble as the regulars return. Oh, and Maurice is not happy with the goaltending.
Rangers 5 v. sens 3
Leafs 5 v. Pens 4
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Seems they haven't cross-referenced their existence lately.
Shift the Leafs or the Senators over to the western conference and we'd be tied for first in the division, enjoying a playoff spot as I write this. That's how bad it is!
So what's all the fan confidence about? A couple of Cinderalla playoff runs and you would think by listening to them that Alberta is to hockey what Brazil is to football.
The biggest culprits are Edmonton fans. If I hear about how great this Edmonton offense is one more time, I'm going to start acting like that Oiler down-syndrome kid from the 80's. Read any of Sean McCormick's blogs for some irritating reference. The chronically low-scoring Flames have scored more goals for crying out loud! Ottawa and Toronto have scored 25 more goals each, and even pitiful Los Angeles have 6 more on the year.
Joffrey Lupul, the offensive stalwart who came over in the Pronger deal, has a whopping 16 points and is a -14.
And not only has Kevin Lowe not had his car keyed for that one, but they actually praise the guy.
It's mind boggling.
Well, I just thought that since we're days away from tearing each others heads off as the Dec 3oth chapter of BoO commences, we could focus on slamming somebody else for a few hours.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Jeff O'Neil. It's not as common a name as, say, Mohammad. But google the name and you'll find a few of them out there.
Take this guy on the left... He's the CEO of an American wine making company who distributed 1.5 million bottles of vino last year. Impressive.
Of course, there's also the Jeff O'Neil who plays for the Leafs. He scored a huge late goal tonight to help the buds snap a losing streak and creep a few points up the standings. What's strange though, is that this Jeff O'Neil makes 1.5 Million dollars a year.
Coincidence? Is there something about the name and 1.5 Million?
I'll do some digging and get back to you, Scully.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Meanwhile, the Leafs will look to begin Life After Peca with a home win against the Capitals. In their only meeting this season the Leafs crushed the Caps 7-1 but that might as well have been in a different lifetime. Michael Peca will likely be out for the season as Jim Vandermeer added to the Leafs woes with a dirty hit. Kyle Wellwood might make his return tonight but The Soviet Bloc of Nikolai Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky are still out. The injury bug seems to have moved from the defence to the forwards. Now that Justin Pogge is in Switzerland with the Spengler Cup Canadian squad I can only assume that one or both of Aubin and Raycroft will get hurt. Thank God for Liverpool's win or I would be despondent.
I predict two losses because it's just been that kind of season.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
When real hockey sucks, it's good to know that in the world of fantasy, the mighty Ancapistan A's are closing in on BoO truant Greg Staples for top spot in the CBHL. Led by old friends Marian Hossa and Brian Pothier along with contributions from the likes of Hammerin' Hank Bobbsey and Ilya "Tha Ill Shit" Kovalchuck, the A's are in an enviable position going into 2007.
(Note: I may or may not chime in over the next two weeks as I'm off to my birth city and home of the Mooseheads for the holidays. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting and I'll see y'all in the New Year!)
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Comments, suggestions on who should be cut, demoted, traded, fired, run out of town on a rail, publicly flogged, shoved in a burlap sack and tossed into the nearest river...are all welcome.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
And in the provincial backwater of Ottawa, the 11th placed senators play host to the one that got away and the BoO's official nemesis the Boston Bruins. The sens have already lost two one-goal games to the Bruins and will be looking to tie the Leafs current streak of three straight losses to the beantowners. Go Chara!
Saturday, December 16, 2006
As you could guess from that smile inducing picture, the Leafs dominated every facet of their game against the New York Rangers. Poor Henrik Lundqvist paid for his shenanigans of a few weeks ago as Tom Renney left the gold medal-winning goaltender in for eight of the Leafs nine goals.
The first period illustrated how bounces can affect the outcome of a game. When the Leafs were losing the bounces were decidedly against them. Tonight, O'Neill's pass on Carlo's opening goal went off a Ranger's skate directly to the pinching defenceman. Later, a poor Ponikarovsky dump-in bounced over the defenceman's stick and let John Pohl in alone on net before slipped a shot under Lundqvist's blocker arm. Kyle Wellwood apparently could hear the stream of invective that I fired his way last night because of his aversion to shooting as he fired home three goals for his first career hat trick.
On the back-end, the Leafs defence had a good game and continue to adapt to their respective roles and ice time. Now that the injury bug seems to have moved on from the defence (Get well soon Darcy!) the minutes and pairings that Maurice had in mind at the beginning of the season have contributed to much stronger defensive efforts during the Leafs current resurgence. There is still a long way to go for this group to reach their potential but they are making progress.
The Leafs reborn offence faces the Panthers at home on Tuesday as the look to extend their current streak to four games.
Sundin passed a few more hockey greats on the all-time scoring list, and Steen broke out of a season long slump, looking suddenly like the player we knew last year. Damien Cox talks about it here, putting his "I love the Leafs" mask back on. He's more fair weather than a Canuck fan, I tell you.
Tonight the Leafs host the Rangers, while the Senators visit the Sabres.
*Of note: The Leafs are unbeaten since Carlo Colaiacovo rejoined the team.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I have only two hockey-related observations on this dark and gloomy night. Firstly, is Chris Kelly completely out of his element or what? I've said it before and I'll say it again - this guy couldn't hit the arse end of a bull with a shovel full of piss. Secondly, Vernon "Vern" Fiddler is quite possibly the greatest name ever.
Anyways, in the spirit of the hour, here's the script from the Simpson's Marge vs. the The Monorail episode as well as Lyle Lanley's sing along.
UPDATE: Arrrrggghh. Looking to ease the sting with the knowledge that I had 3 Predators in my hockey pool, I check the standings this morning to find that I had neglected to reactivate Steve God Damn Sullivan prior to the nightly roster freeze.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
J-S Aubin got the start and only lasted until the first minute of the second period. He was the victim of a Mats Sundin deflection and a Bryan McCabe braincramp. Paul Maurice gave him the hook and turned the ACC air blue with a timeout tirade that despite being inaudible on TV was nonetheless terrifying. Apparently it worked on the Leafs.
Andrew Raycroft kept the Lightning off the board with a couple of big saves before Chad Kilger scored a brace to tie the game heading into the third. Ottawa favourite Darcy Tucker deflected a Sundin shot to give the Leafs the lead before Jeff O'Neill jumped on a juicy rebound to hammer home a 5th. Tampa added a fourth on a powerplay but the Leafs defended well in the third period and came away with the win.
Other notables were Pavel Kubina, who played great against his old mates, Carlo, who did not look out of place after an almost year long layoff, and Michael Peca, who continued his excellent play of late with assists on the second and third goals.
So the weight is lifted off the Leafs. They played better all-around but there is still a long way for them to go before they reach the pre-losing streak levels let alone where the team should be. Next up is a Friday-Saturday double bill that starts in Carolina.
A comment on the sens game: Does each great performance by Emery make Muckler look dumber for signing Gerber?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
“Dom, whether it’s Ottawa, or Buffalo, where he played before, he’s competitive; he hates losing. He hates giving up goals in practice. He’s just competitive and doesn’t like getting beat. As far as trying to stick it to them, who knows – if it was me, I’d like to stick it to them.”
A player about to face his former team sometimes rewards a teammate who scores the game-winning goal; the Wings, though, have yet to hear from Hasek on this point.
“We’ll bring it up with him, see what he wants to do for us,” Nicklas Lidstrom said with a smile.
After 43 saves, Number 1 tender Ray Emery came out the better tonight, battling immense pressure to face down his former mate (according to Garrioch on the pre-game show, apparently he snarked at a reporter after practice).
No word on whether he's planning on rewarding his buddy Spezza with a nice tat for his game winning goal.
And no, he ain't the messiah, or the second coming of Bobby Orr; but this guy can move the puck and lay bomb hits welcome on any blue line, especially one mired in a seven game losing streak. I think I speak for most Leaf fans when I say, welcome back Carlo.
Now this looks like a kid ready to play.
Oh... and Ottawa play Detroit tonight as well.
Never mind that he has always played well against the Senators. Forget that he has a 24-7-5 record, a 1.41 G.A.A. and an incredible .953 save percentage in 37 career games vs. Ottawa.
In other news, Bryan Murray does NOT believe that there is a conspiracy against the senators:
I would hope not.
Oh and the Leafs try to halt their streak at 7 with a game against the Lightning. J-S Aubin gets the start against a team that the Leafs beat 4-2 once upon a time when they were winning games for fun. Time to see more of that because the sens nascent losing streak is not as much fun if the Leafs are setting the pace.
The plan to improve the Maple Leafs by improving their defence is proving to be a huge waste of money.
Despite having one of the most expensive blueline corps in the NHL, the Leafs languish near the bottom of the league in defensive statistics, writes the Toronto Sun.
It is tied for fifth worst in goals surrendered with 105, and sits in the bottom 10 in goals-against average.
At $16.3 million, the Leafs have the highest payroll for its top three defencemen in the league, in Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
So, Alfie's out, Redden's out and Gerber might as well be out. Want to see an even more critical injury deplete the team? Well, by my watch Mike Fisher is due for some sort of calamity. The Sen's most consistently energetic performer this season (even on nights where they gas out the joint) has missed on average about 25 games a season. While Alfie and Wade have occasionally gone unnoticed (or had noticeable gaffes) when in the lineup, losing Fish as they fight to maintain a playoff spot through the doldrums of January and February could very well tank the season. Alternatively, Toronto could continue to suck worse than us and we'll snag 8th by virtue of being the least mediocre team in the Northeast (and/or our repeated poundings serving as a safe tie-breaker in our favour).
I recommend a bubble wrap application before every game and extra caution while navigating that remodelled kitchen.
With that loss the sens join the Leafs on the outside of the playoff picture and have shown all the makings of a second long losing streak this season. Tough weekend for the Ontario teams.
Moreover, Ottawa must be destroyed.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
So far, in one period they have called a hook on Matt Stajan for lifting the stick. On that powerplay Chad Kilger got tripped with no call on the play and after the goal he got two minutes for complaining. This, one night after Peter Schaeffer received no penalty for waving a towel on the end of his stick. How Stephen Wolkom can say that his referees are instructed to ignore any shows of disrespect from the bench is beyond me. So instead of nullifying a Red Wing powerplay they blow the call AND give them another powerplay right away. That is clearly a malicious call because the right call (the one that usually gets mad) is a ten minute misconduct. Don Cherry was upset during Coach's Corner.
Most will argue that these are just the rumblings of an irate Leafs fan but the truth is that the wildly inconsistent refereeing has been a problem in every game I have watched and for every team. All 30 teams are suffering from the ineptness of the NHL's officials. And that is before you bring up how on earth Colin Campbell can explain that AO did not get suspended because he is a star. The level of craptitude shown by the NHL has started to ruin the game for me and I understand how lifelong fans can just stop watching: it is becoming farcical.
Update: In a game that made the last four Bruins games look interesting by contrast the Leafs ended up losing 5-1 to the Detroit Red Wings powerplay. This game was a perfect illustration of what happens when traditional rivals play twice over three years. Neither team played particularly well, the Detroit crowd was so dead that you could hear the coaches yelling at some points, and Detroit's powerplay was 5 for 13. Ridiculous. On the bright side, Ottawa lost 3-1 to the Rangers so it's a sad day in the Battle of Ontario.
The senators look to use their game in hand to move above the Leafs on points and not goal differential. The teams behind both squads are winning their games in hand so the sens will be looking to stay above the pack. Go Blue Jackets!
Friday, December 08, 2006
With a little help from our trusty Xbox 360 and NHL 2K7, we ran a simulated game between Team Canada and Team Québec. Which squad would come out on top?
Just glancing at the proposed lineup, I'd have guessed the score would be close. Quebec has way better tending, ROC has better forwards and the Quebec D is quite faible. In any event, Antoine Vermette decided the game in a shootout.
Who would like to see a curling format to settle this? Each province / territory earns the right to represent the nation (and add on a few choice "pick-ups" before the big tourney).
Plus, the seeding looks a little more intriguing (from the proposed ROC lineup):
* Sidney Crosby - NS
* Rod Brind'Amour - ON
* Eric Staal - ON
* Dany Heatley - Germany?
* Jason Spezza - ON
* Brendan Shanahan - ON
* Patrick Marleau - SASK
* Joe Thornton - ON
* Jarome Iginla - AB
* Joe Sakic - BC
* Paul Kariya - BC
* Ryan Smyth - ON (surely this guy has Albertan citizenship?)
* Jonathan Cheechoo - ON
* Rick Nash - ON
* Chris Pronger - ON
* Scott Niedermayer - AB
* Bryan McCabe - ON
* Sheldon Souray - AB
* Dion Phaneuf - AB
* Rob Blake - ON
* Marty Turco - ON
* Dwayne Roloson - ON
* Cam Ward - SASK
Er, maybe Quebec and Ontario can just get a bye to the final.
In all honesty, last night reminded me of watching a cooking show. The first 2/3 is great because you are learning how to make something that looks so good but the last 1/3 sucks when you realize that you are not getting any. So in that spirit, here is the recipe for (lack of) success that the Leafs have been following:
22 blue and white clad hockey players
40 minutes of hockey
20 minutes of mental errors
1 obliging opponent
1 sheet of ice
2 brutal referees
thousands of devoted fans
1 handful of mediots
Take your 22 blue and white clad hockey players and 2 brutal referees and toss them onto your sheet of ice. Have the players play a distinctly uncreative and workmanlike 40 minutes while the referees make horrendous calls on both sides. Ensure that the blue guys do not capitalize on any gift powerplays. This will usually result in a closely contested game and possibly a lead heading into the final 20 minutes. Right now our meal probably looks very tasty. This won't last.
These final 20 minutes will feature more bad calls by the referees and numerous mental errors. Now add your obliging opponent who will have spent the first 40 minutes frustrated and possibly trailing. Have them capitalize on the mental errors or gift powerplays until they are in the lead. Make sure that this happens so fast that it makes your head spin. Toss in thousands of irate devoted fans and a handful of mediots before serving the dish. If it taste bitter and eats away at your sould you made it just right. Serves at least six and hopefully no more.
Last nights goats:
- Alexei Ponikarovsky - fell asleep at the blueline and let Brad Stuart waltz past him to score the equalizer.
- J-S Aubin - Gave out a massive rebound right to Wayne Primeau who promptly buried it into the yawning cage. An exact replica of Patricia Bergeron's OT winner a few games ago.
- Darcy Tucker - Instead of staying by the point and covering his man he followed the puck down to the slot and left Patricia all alone. Bergeron rifled a shot past Aubin's glove to seal the win.
Frustration is a good word. What's more than frustrating?
It should also describe this visual representation of Leafs' fans this morning.
Moreover, Ottawa must be destroyed.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Up next for the Leafs is another trip to Beantown to face the Trappin' Bruins. I promise never to make fun of Tim Thomas if he stops playing like Tiny Thompson.
After the Leafs stop their slide behind a Raycroft 30 save performance and Alex Steen's first goal since forever they will move back above the sens. Of course, the sens will have a game in hand...
Update: As paul noted, J-S Aubin will be getting the start tonight. The Leafs have back-to-backs the next three weekends so tonight's game is a good time to get him some action after three weeks off. Of course this will do nothing to stem the tide of the Toronto Mediots trying to pin the losing streak on Raycroft. Steen is still in the lineup and will still score.
Moreover, Ottawa must be destroyed.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Yes, the Leafs at the start of the year would have been happy to be in a top 8 spot tied with us after 28 games but considering how the last month has gone for the Buds things don't look so good.
Toronto has two points less right now than it had after the same number of games, 28, last season, and defensive weaknesses still are a major problem. The Leafs' 3.09 goals-against average was 20th among the 30 teams as of Monday.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Last night this goal by Vermette was damn nice.
A pure skill play you have to love and the kind we're seeing more of in the new NHL. I personally didn't know Vermette had it in him?
Ottawa are clearly on a roll and their favourable schedule continues into next week with games against the very beatable Islanders and Capitals. The way they're playing there is no reason to think they won't hop scotch into a playoff position by weeks end.
The Leafs played very well last night despite the S/O loss. They outshot Montreal 39-22, and dominated the game while getting to the leagues hottest goaltender early. A late penalty by Ian White (the dreaded Delay of Game over the glass), allowed Montreal to get the tying goal on the PP. Again, credit where it's due: Montreal never gave up.
Coming up is a tough week for the Buds who play Atlanta and Detroit, with the surging Bruins sandwiched in between.
Frankly, I would rather have Ottawa's schedule right now.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Caught the Marlies and Bulldogs tilt Friday on Sportsnet. It was nice to see a team in blue and white win a game. Feels like forever since I can say that.
Recently healthy defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo and Staffan Kronwall were in the line-up. They played great, especially Carlo who was easily the best player on the ice. He's just started his conditioning stint, but it won't be long before we see him with the parent club. He is the real deal, if he can stay healthy.
Oh, and it looks like a failed playoff record is not the only result from Ottawa's many 100 point seasons. It really hurt their drafting too. Binghampton, Ottawa's AHL affiliate, are currently dead last in their division and share the lead for most Goals Against in the AHL with Phoenix's farm club San Antonio.
Friday, December 01, 2006
But in the grand scheme, there's got to be a certain point where the fact that so many of their wins are blowouts ceases to be impressive weighed against their close losses, and it's appropriate to wonder if there really is an underlying issue there, whether it's character, coaching, or what.
The Sabres series last year was a perfect example of how the sens struggled to close out tight games. Until they can consistently win those types of games the observations above will continue to ring true.
Note: this covers the first 20 games of the season. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues over games 21-40.
On December 30th when the Sens and Leafs next play, what are the odds that the Leafs will..
a) still be ahead of Ottawa in the standings.
b) still be in the top 8 in the East.
c) be wondering where to send Sundin in order to rebuild for next year.
Leafs fans can look to the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, for guidance as he said "and this too shall pass."
Saturday night is an important divisional game in Montreal and the way that Cristobal Huet has been playing it is not going to get any easier to score. The sens are slithering up from the basement, someone reminded Tim Thomas and the Bruins that they were supposed to be good, and the Sabres are running away with the division. Life in the NHL's toughest division sure is fun.
On the bright side, CNN/SI thinks that the Leafs' unis rank among the best. Strangely, the Leaping Trojan Ad is nowhere to be found.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
They also haven't lost against Atlanta since October 2003.
Put those two things together, and one would think the planets have aligned for the Leafs to end a bad run of games.
Yet, in the star this morning there is concern from Maurice that the team is losing games despite out-shooting and outplaying their opponents. 46 shots on Tuesday resulted in one goal which deflected off Antropov's skate. Not exactly potent touch around the net.
Sundin has been back for a week. It's time he started playing like their best player again, or this could turn ugly in a hurry.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
With Ray Emery still nursing a sore wrist, it would seem to be a good time to give Gerber another shot Thursday night when the Florida Panthers are at Scotiabank Place. That would give Emery a chance to have five days off if he needs them.Murray thinks this:
It would also be a good boost for Gerber’s confidence if he could post back-to-back wins.
"I just have to make decisions based on winning hockey games," explained Murray.
"I have to put in the players in that feel they can do that on a consistent basis right now."
I think the majority of Sens fans would agree with Murray.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
As a welcome home gift for The Muppet here is the clip of Darcy Tucker single handedly taking on the Bruins. Thanks to Mirtle for finding it. It has created quite a bit of discussion with the virulent anti-Leafs fans showing that glaucoma can strike anyone any time and poor put-upon Leaf fans having to try to stem the tide of blinkered hate.
This much is clear to anyone with a pair of functioning eyes: Tucker is chasing the puck until the faceoff dot where he decides he can't make it and glides into a huge hit with Chara the force of which lifts him off his feet (he is about 3 feet and 200 lbs lighter than the Sens' Old Boy). As he is skating at centre ice he sees Marc Savard charging at him and he hits him in the chest knocking him to the ice. Then Paul Mara takes offence that Tucker didn't allow Savard to cheap shot him from behind and flies at Tucker. Darcy lands the first hit, takes a few bombs, gives back a couple and then wrestles Mara to the ice.
Here is the anti-leafs version: Tucker takes 15 strides all the way until he gets to Chara where he proceeds to launch himself in the air for the final three feet of this vicious assault. Darcy then hunts down Savard, who was just checking out the crowd, before cross-checking him in the throat. Tucker then goes after non-fighter Paul Mara and tries to break his hand with the back of his head. What a goon!
I am guessing that Sens fans will see a lot more of the latter version.
Tonight, the two teams meet for the fourth time in the past month and this could be the kind of heated game that the league wanted to create when they made their division-heavy schedule. Darcy Tucker has already said that he welcomes a rematch with Mara and Raycroft laughed off suggestions by Marc Savard that the Bruins had his number:
Savard shoots his mouth off all the time, it's nothing new.
The Leafs will have had a couple of practices to work Mats back into the lineup so I expect a much more cohesive performance tonight.
Monday, November 27, 2006
First off, Senator fans, you would love Jamaica. Excellent beaches, delicious food, and zero Leaf games on Saturday night. The next time you complain about the CBC for their Toronto-skewed programming, remember that there are places where the hockey coverage is so anorexic you would kill for a steady diet of Darcy Tucker powerplay goals. I know this, because by the 5th day I would have watched a Senators practice if it was televised. No wonder Hockey doesn't grow outside of Canada.
An excellent vacation aside, it was a tough week for this particular Leaf fan. Partly because I couldn't watch a game, partly because the Buds went 2-3, but more so because the ESPN2 ticker in the sports bar kept regularly saying that Ottawa had won? I began to wonder if their satellite system was capturing last years feeds? I mean, talk about ruining a perfectly good tan.
Thankfully, news of the Tampa Bay Lightening's heroics greeted me at the airport like a smiling tour guide holding a sign with my name on it. God Bless you Martin St. Louis.
So, in catching up on all the news I have only one stone left unturned:
Where the hell can I see some video of that Tucker hit on Chara?
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Ottawa Senators: Starting to find their way...
"from the depths of the Eastern Conference" must have been omitted. The review also contains a bombshell:
"The surprise for me right now is Tucker and the amount of goals he has for Toronto," Ruff said. "He's been a pleasant surprise. I would not have picked that."
Considering he was calling for his head at the end of last year that's pretty big of Lindy. First Peca, now Ruff, how long until Jochen Hecht says that Tucker is his inspiration?
In other news, the Leafs crushed the Brashear-less Capitals 7-1. Wellwood continued his three game scoring streak, Bryan McCabe stretched his point-scoring streak to 8 games, and Lindy's new best friend scored his team-leading 16th. How big of a blowout was it? Hal Gill scored a goal and picked up an assist. Tomorrow the Captain returns against the Bruins and I will be in attendance.
Friday, November 24, 2006
How meaningful are these? It's interesting to consider how Crosby is obviously a major outlier, but at some point his PPM is going to drop precipitously as his salary rises. It seems reasonable that Tucker and Neil have comparable (and relatively high) PPM's, but quite absurd when McAmmond and O'Neill look to be a better bargain than Rod Brind'Amour (plus there's that whole Stanley Cup winning captain thing). The rub is that while a Peca, Sundin or Alfie appear to be on par with a McGrattan, they each take up the same percentage of their respective team's roster as he does.
I haven't shown defensemen, as stay-at-home types are bound to get a bad rap, but the goalie stats (in terms of standing points earned) are instructive:
Well, I'm not sure if I would have laughed your ass out of the room or placed a pretty hefty bet against your assessment.
UPDATE: Still climbing out of the hole. Potentially a big loss on the blueline - just as he gets rolling along, the A-Train sustains a lower body injury.
Japers' Rink has a good roundup of the pre-game. I did not know that the Caps had dropped 4 in a row. They are primed to deliver a great performance and of course it will come at the expense of the buds.
For those not blessed with LeafsTV the game will probably be available on the amazing TVU Player. I use it to follow Liverpool's games when they are not broadcast and it is a great program. They usually broadcast the game that gets the most votes in the forum and thanks to the legions of Leaf fans it is usually that night's Leafs broadcast.
Toronto Maple Leafs player Ian White is facing charges of driving while disqualified, CTV News has learned.
The promising young defenceman was stopped by police on Saturday and charged.
It is the second time White has been in trouble with the law in recent times.
He lost his driver's licence after he was convicted in September of impaired driving.
The guy makes over $500,000 a year. He could afford his own driver let alone pay for cabs for the year he's off the road.
What makes this movie even more unique is that the NHL and the Maple Leafs — part of a sport where no player has ever come out of the closet — have given the filmmakers their blessing to use their logos and uniforms. The Leafs have even agreed to let them do some filming with them at the end of a practice next month.I found this part of the article in bad taste however as I was sure it was just an unfounded rumour:
The closest an active Leaf player has come to declaring their homosexuality was when it was discovered that Wendel Clark and Toller Cranston rented an apartment together.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
He's smart, skilful, small and afraid, and that combination kind of leaves you wanting when you come into a building like this (The Wachovia Center in Philadelphia).
I would have thought that those traits would have made him a perfect fit for Ottawa. Unfortunately, Bryan Murray, that brilliant strategist, could not find a place for Kaigorodov to contribute:
We saw him play, and I had to make a judgment whether we keep Dean McAmmond, Kaigorodov or Denis Hamel or Brian McGrattan. When (Muckler) asked me, I said, 'I don't see where he's going to contribute to this team right now.
I guess there was no way he could give up Hamel's 4 pts (3-1), McGrattan's 1pt(0-1), or McAmmond's 7pts (3-4) to fit the solution to their longstanding problem area. Good managing.
We are now getting heckled by Leaf fans! Leaf fans!?!
The good news is if the Senators keep this pace up you won't have to worry about yet another playoff early exit disappointment.
On the other hand, there are those that think otherwise. A good comment by Gee:
Everybody relax. Easier said than done (for me too!) but, firing Paddock before the next game is very reactionary.
This is essentially the same team as last year, minus Comrie and Saprykin, but with 5 more Stanley Cup rings in the room.
They were going to have a bad month. It was probably going to be February. I've been saying this since October. They rolled strong out of the gates partly because their summer was short and they never really lost their old conditioning. Who knew it was going to be this bad? Ok, yeah nobody.
Coming in first in the standings. doesn't matter. It doesn't. Really. Honest. It's WAY better to take that lead and use it to fix whatever ails you.
What ails them? The goaltending situation. It's frustrating as hell to watch. But it's not the only issue, and it's not as bad as it feels after two blowout losses.
We have lots of time for either of these two goaltenders to get hot by end-of-season. Both have been in the SC final before. Both are in good health. This is a
If they can string together a few wins despite the not great goaltending, the team is going to get stronger. The goaltending is gonna get better too, and finally, the d-men will be able to work within one system (not, for Ray I do this and for Gerbs I do that...)
About that: Saturday's game was important because it showed an ability to beat a hot, loaded team in the East, to come back, and to find a way to win (thank you Alfie). These two losses are alarming, but making a coaching change based on those two losses it probably a little hasty. I know it's not JUST based on that, but c'mon. This is a team in second in the east.
The role guys, the veteran SC/leadership guys in the room, have not had a time to become strong enough in the locker room yet. This will change by mid-March or so. This team is going to be a lot cooler and a lot more confident come playoffs.
The Sens need 23 more wins this season to win the Stanley Cup. Only 7 of those need to be in the next 5 weeks (18 games). Extra wins? They don't count.
So there you have it. Fire him or don't. Just win baby.
The Leafs dropped a heartbreaker last night against the Flying Sabres. The game seemed to turn early in the second when the Sabres scored while on a powerplay following a perfectly executed double gainer by Chris Drury followed by a Brian Campbell tally. However, the Leafs fought back to tie the game on a great Mike Ryan tally (nope, he's not a Leaf) and Tucker's 15th. Unfortunately, a miscommunication between Raycroft and Kaberle led to Briere's winner and the Sabres added two empty netters to seal a 7-4 win.
The score is not indicative of the game as the Leafs controlled much of the second half (I missed most of the first half) and showed once again that they can play with the best team in the league. Friday night the Leafs travel to Washington before they host Boston on Saturday. I'll be at the latter game and hopefully I can get some better pictures.
In great news, Mats will be returning Saturday (fingers crossed) and JFJ got his option picked up! (Note: only one is exciting and keep Senior in your prayers)
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tonight's game will probably feature a fairly evenly split crowd hoping to see the Leafs continue the Sabres woes against Ontario-based teams. The Leafs' goalie with a heart of gold Andrew Raycroft will be looking to reprise his game-saving role from the last Leafs-Sabres meeting, one of his best performances of the year. Paul Maurice will be banking that the players' fear from Monday night will be incentive enough to step their game up the level necessary to compete with the Sabres. The Soviet Bloc and Wellwood will continue to be counted on to provide the offence until Mats returns on Friday or Saturday.
The last time these two teams met the talk (Edited to clarify) among my friends was all about how badly the Leafs would be beaten. The talk again is that if the Leafs do not perform significantly better than in the last three games that they could go the way of the Lightning. Hopefully, the negative talk spurs the team into again producing a top-notch effort in the Queen City.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
It's great to see the A-Train back on track.
Note: Volchenkov is one of 4 Sens D-men who are free agents at the end of the year. (He and Schubert are RFA while Phillips and Preissing are UFA.)
Before sens fans start crowing about their revival, they have quite a lot of ground to make up:
Monday, November 20, 2006
The Leafs welcomed Andrew Raycroft and Aleksander Suglobov back to the fold. After a terrible fight by Wade 'Encino Man' Belak against Cam 'I jump when I hit' Janssen, Sugar gets a chance to try to re-ignite a stagnant Leafs offence. The Soviet Bloc and Wellwood will be looking to turn their superiority (10 of 34 shots against New Jersey) into goals while the defence will be trying to maintain their excellent streak of play that has seen them concede only four goals in the past three games.
One of last year's games ended 9-6 for the Leafs. Anything approaching that sort of offence would be welcome for the Leafs as the calls of 'where are the goals going to come from?' have awoken after a period of slumber.
Why it's the Air Canada Centre....
PPP was there and snagged a couple of those empty Golds. I realize that most of these seats actually had people in them at some point during the game but, like the true fans that they are, they must have been studying game film in the Platinum Club:
Before, during, or after a game, guests can indulge in the many services the club has to offer, as the restaurant holds their table for the entire night. As a result, if fans want to have a leisurely dinner before the game, they can. Or, if they just want to enjoy a glass of wine and appetizer, return for their main course after the first period, and come back later for dessert and a port or liqueur, the staff at the Platinum Club will have everything taken care of.And check out the stats - Ottawa is 2nd in the league with a 103.5% attendance capacity. The Leafs are way down there at number 3 with 103.2%
Make sure you look at it today as I think the Ottawa number will be dropping after tonight's game.
The Sens play the Wild tonight who are on a bit of a slump after winning only 2 of their past 7. Afterwards, the team plays 10 games where only Carolina is more than 2 games over 0.500. A great chance to put up some Ws and get back in the top 8 in the East. We are only 5 pts behind Washington who sits 8th.
Or, another way of looking at it....
How many stretches like this are there? If they don't make up the ground they've lost then we're screwed!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
The team will also be buoyed by the news that captain Mats Sundin will be making his return during the back-to-back games against the Bruins the 25th and 28th of November (hopefully the 25ht because I will be at that game).
Andrew Raycroft is targeting Monday's game against the Islanders for his return but in his stead Aubin has been stellar.
The Leafs will be looking to play the same type of game that they did in the first two periods against the Devils last time out. A hard, successful forecheck and plenty of traffic led the team to a 6-3 lead. As always, Patrick Elias and Brian Gionta will be the danger men for the team from Jersey. Chris McMurtry notes that Jamie Langenbrunner-Zach Parise-Travis Zajac formed a dangerous trio in the Devils triumph over the sens.
Coming off a middling performance against the Bruins Maurice will be looking for a much better showing from Kubina and the non-top line forwards. The Leafs had the Devils' number and hopefully tonight they can recapture it.
Has there been a bigger regular season home game for the Sens in the past few years?
Melnyk spoke after the win in Buffalo about standing behind the management. How did the Sens respond? By putting 13 shot on Brodeur in the first two periods and getting behind 3-0.
Almost like they sent a message back, no?
If they haven't stopped playing for Murray and Muckler then you should expect to see one hell of a motivated team tonight. But shouldn't we have seen that last night?
I expect we'll see less than that. I think this team wants Murray fired.
UPDATE: Okay - maybe I'm wrong. 50 shots on the Sabres tonight. A big win to be sure.
Friday, November 17, 2006
1992: Ott 2 - Tor 8
1993: Ott 1 - Tor 12
1994: Ott 3 - Tor 16
1995: Ott 1 - Tor 15
1996: Ott 1 - Tor 36
1997: Ott 12- Tor 57
That is FIVE years with a top three pick, and all they had to do to get that talent was be a terrible hockey team. So are the Sens the incredibly smart drafting team that Sens fans are claiming all over this forum, or does the fact they couldn't translate this string of good luck into playoff success actually prove otherwise?
*Of note: In 1999, Ottawa DID take Havlat in the 26th position. The best player in the first round by far and a stellar choice. The Leafs chose Luca Cereda in the 24th position that same year. He never made it to the NHL because of a heart condition.
After last Friday's win against the Pens we thought the Sens had turned a corner but 2 losses quickly changed that. A win against Jersey tonight and there will be a good mood in the rink on Saturday night. A loss and the fans might be a little testy again. Such is life.
As Melnyk says:
What you’re seeing now is passion. The opposite, I would get very scared. If nobody cared, if nobody was screaming, if people weren’t calling into radio shows, if they weren’t sending e-mails, then I’d be worried.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
On the bright side, J-S Aubin stole a point for the good guys with his amazing display. The top line of Antropov-Wellwood-Ponikarovsky gave the Bruins fits but they were not able to translate some good possession into goals. Pavel Kubina played pretty well considering his trans-Atlantic voyage to welcome Tereza into the world (read: not very well).
It is another point for the Leafs and will help them shake the rust off in anticipation of a busy stretch that sees 5 more games in the next 9 days starting with the Devils at home. The Devils will be coming off a hard game with the sens the night before, where they will be looking to avenge their 8-1 slaughter, and based on the performance tonight the Leafs will be coming off a hard practice.
Keys to the Game
- Goaltending: Last time out the Leafs got it and the Bruins, hilariously, did not. The Leafs managed to get outshot 17-10 in the first period but left with a 3-0 lead. Tim Thomas will probably get the start tonight and will try to improve on the team's horrendous 3.8GA/game.
- Shooting: The Leafs would do well to pepper the net with shots. Considering that the Bruins are 28th in shots against at 33/game and Toronto is 1st in shots for at 35.1/game I expect it to resemble a shooting gallery.
- Special Teams: It will be a battle of the nines as the ninth-ranked powerplay (Boston) will face the ninth-ranked penalty kill (Toronto). The Bruins won this battle last time going 2 for 5 but it was not enough. Clearly they will want to keep the PP off the ice (Discipline boys!) but they also have to ensure that Bostons speedsters like Patrice Bergeron and Phil Kessel are not able to isolate Hal Gill. He is great in the stationary penalty kill but I think the word 'lumbering' was invented to describe his skating. Kind of like 'shaky' was invented to describe Ottawa's goaltending.
- Stepper-uppers: The Soviet Bloc will have to continue their strong play. Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky combined for 3 goals, 3 assists, and were +8 last Thursday. Both players used their size to torment the Bruins defence and Poni used his speed to create scoring chances. If both players continue their recent strong play then the Bruins will be hard pressed to find an answer as despite being the size of a sequoia Chara can only cover one player at a time.
Overall, if the Leafs can play their puck pressure game they should be in good shape. The Bruins defence is suspect past Ottawa Old Boy Zdeno Chara and the Bruins offence is top-line heavy. Boston is probably tired from chasing AO around the ice last night. If Tim Thomas is more Gerber than Raycroft then the Leafs should prevail.
After listening to some people it sounded like Melnyk sent a money man to beat on Mlakar, Muckler, and Murray.
Well, from reading his bio, I think Plenner has a little more sports knowledge than you might have thought:
Today he is a Director, Secretary and an Alternate NHL Governor for the Ottawa Senators, and a Director and Secretary of Scotiabank Place. He is on the Board of Directors of St. Michael's Majors and is a Governor of the Ontario Hockey League representing St. Michael's Majors. He is also an authorized player representative for the Professional Lacrosse Players Association.
He was also the primary lawyer involved in negotiating the terms of the Toronto Raptors' Basketball Team expansion agreement with the NBA and was the Founding Secretary of the Raptors. Some of his other sports-related clients include Pat Quinn of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Glen Grunwald, formerly of the Toronto Raptors.
In short, a sunk cost is an expenditure made in the past that cannot be modified. Neither now nor in the future. A sunk cost is a cost that cannot be recovered. The English language has a nice expression to describe it in plain words: "There is no use crying over spilled milk". The milk won't flow back into the saucer pan. Many people nevertheless behave as if there was a hope that the milk would go back where it was.
The Sunk Cost Fallacy is an informal logical fallacy in which it is argued that the amount of time, effort, or money already invested in a project justifies the investment of yet more time, effort and money in order to complete the project.
This is a fallacy because the actual economic calculation which needs to be made is whether the project would be worth completing at the cost of the investment which still remains to be made.
Following the dictates of the sunk cost fallacy is sometimes referred to by the curious phrase "throwing good money after bad".
Martin Gerber's $3.7 M contract is an expenditure that cannot be modified. Neither now nor in the future. It is strange to hear mild justifications for keeping him as the starter simply on account of the money already invested by the organization. That money will be sunk whether he plays lights out for 70 games or pops in and out of the lineup in a backup role (unless you seriously entertain the notion for a trade of essentially equal value at this point in the season).
Ray Emery has earned the right to be the number one tender. Gerber will be a quite sufficient backup. Forget the contractual albatross and go with the winner. Does it need to be anymore complicated than that?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Muckler? Murray? Alfie? Spartacat?
I think Schaefer's twitchy reaction to the third goal sort of summed up the team's attitude after the horn went. Did the bullet really come that close to my head?
Room for improvement remains of course - although the PP got a couple of goals, there remains those disconcerting moments when a random glance at the clock is needed to confirm - holy shit - they've still got the man advantage! A need to respond to the Sabre's explosive speed seemed evident as well, with the exception of Fisher, Volchenkov and a few others at times - didn't they look like they just slept off a nasty jag on the couch? The overall game pace was fast, but everyone looks slow compared to Buffalo. Meszaros appeared to be as paralyzed by the blitz as he did last May.
Time to get a little shut eye and try not to let the hawkish gaze of Mean Gene Melnyk's right hand man intrude on your dreams.
This move is in stark contrast to the NFL who kicked down YouTube's doors, figuratively, to get footage removed. Added to the recent deal with Google this shows that the NHL is serious about becoming more accessible to fans.
No word yet on when highlight compilations of the sens-Leafs playoff series would be available.
I don't think so.
Bryan Murray's shortcomings in the post season are well known. In addition, before last year he hadn't coached a team into the playoffs for almost 15 years.
The time for patience is over.
Who should go behind the bench? You've got John Paddock there as an assistant. There are a few Sutters still around. Iron Mike might even be an option. Hitchcock?
It’s a funny time in Leaf Nation, the first stretch where we don’t play 87 times in a week. Talk about anti-climatic. Scanning the news, it’s not surprising to find no real news on the Leafs. Kubina had a baby… Sundin lost his last few hair follicles… Darcy Tucker was spotted buying his own Kewl gear at Play It Again Sports… times are a little thin.
One bit of news: Raycroft will be out for a few more games. This shouldn’t be a worry. Aubin has collected 25 of his last available 30 points. Besides, you get the feeling the Leafs could win with Antropov in net. Maybe even Gerber.
In that spirit, let's take a look at the all-star ballots that were released today. Mirtle laments the inclusion of so many unworthy all-stars:
If you're looking for interesting and/or quirky names available for selection, there are a few. In the East, you get your pick of the injured (Henrik Tallinder, Wade Redden, Maxim Afinogenov, Mats Sundin), underperforming (Henrik Lundqvist, Alexei Zhitnik, Patrik Elias, Daniel Alfredsson, Peter Forsberg, Miroslav Satan), unknown (Brian Campbell, Alexei Zhitnik) or just plain washed up (Alexei Zhitnik). In the West, how about two (!) Coyotes, two Blues, two Blue Jackets and five Canucks?
The credibility of the all-star game is saved by the omission of one Martin Gerber. First Colbert and now Forlund, the Carolinas have produced some great satirists.
Note: Ninja pointed out that The Mad Hockey Blogger is creating a new statistic called HIQ. Check out the results for the Leafs. Hopefully, soon we'll have more concrete evidence that the sens just are not as good as the Leafs.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
"The guy gave up five goals and he gave us a chance to win the hockey game. That's the way I felt about it," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "That was as strong a game as he's played for us. He made huge stops in a couple of cases."Yup - that stop he made on Plekanec's 84 ft wrister to stop the Habs from getting the backbreaking 6th goal was crucial. The team just couldn't follow his lead.
My new idea - have Murray coach Gerber in Binghamton where he can praise his 5 goals against performances. Give John Paddock the reigns - the guy at least won a couple of AHL championships. Melnyk can suck up Gerber's salary and Muckler can have the cap room to make a move.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Just before game time. A ton of Habs fans here - great atmosphere.
I'm 4 rows from the Sens blueline on the penalty box side. Someone up there likes me.
First period over: A lot of tension here. After Mtl scored the Gerber chants were started by the Hab fans - I think some Ottawa fans joined in.
Game over: The Sens come alive with a PP goal and then Gerber let's in a classic Lalimesque goal to kill the Sens. He was on his knees more than a kneeing kneer.
Buffalo, Jersey, and Buffalo up next. 6-10-1 now. How much pain can Melnyk endure?
If the Ottawa Senators’ slow start continues and they ultimately decide to make a change in the front office, who gets the chop first: GM John Muckler, or coach Bryan Murray?
Sometimes, sitting in the weeds, fighting adversity throughout the season, but eventually, finding your way is a recipe for playoff success. It hasn't worked the other way for Ottawa. Maybe this has been the secret plan all along - they just didn't bother telling anybody about it first.
The obvious example is their goaltender, Gerber. He has been proven to be terrible in the first six matches. Eventually they tried the other goalie and they won a game, but in the following game they again put in the Swiss goalie and lost. Ottawa is confusing, they put in the young goalie and win, then put the Swiss one back in and lose again.Sigh. Proven to be terrible. QED.
UPDATE: He's in net again tonight and Redden is out indefinitely.
What you dont want to see on the main / front page, and you only want to see on the item page
Let’s call it “The battle of the overpaid defenceman"
The Leaf prospect pipeline
Leafs defence now a thing of envy?
Where is Alfie?
Sundin dished off to Alfredsson!
The truth about Ottawa
The Mad Hockey Blogger:
Battle of Ontario Losing Steam?
Sens Going After Critics?
Pension Plan Puppets:
The Life of Bryan
Class Is In Session
Forbes' Doesn't Do Hockey
Can people send me a mail on who you think would be the best addition to the team.
I was able to get an answer to the question on a lot of Senator fans’ minds. Is Melnyk’s patience with management running out? The answer to that, at least a day after the Atlanta collapse, was an emphatic no. In fact, when we sat down at Bert’s and talked hockey, he said he was feeling badly for management. And not at all in a “I feel badly for you because I’m about to fire you” sort of way of a “I feel badly for you because you deserve better” sort of way.
For a bemused Leafs fan, this does explain why a fool like Gord Wilson continues to collect a pay cheque. It is true that every organization out there employs their share of homers, but the Sens-sational sycophantic shilling abilities of the neophytes that report on the glorious team from Kanata have always seemed to push the limits.
For the record, I will gladly host the firemuckler.ca and firemurray.ca sites for free on a fast, U.S. based server out of the reaches of Mlakar and his henchmen.
If you run these sites, drop me a line.
(This post was written by The Mad Hockey Blogger. His second entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member)
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Is it the PP?
Is it Muckler and Murray?
Is it because Alfredsson stopped eating Wheaties?
Thing is, Ottawa fans and the Sens themselves seem so focused on what’s wrong with them, that they have yet to figure out what’s changed everywhere else.
The NHL has collectively improved this year. Almost every team has armed themselves with a chance to win any given night. In the east, the Islanders, Habs, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Washington all have winning records so far this year. That’s five teams who have moved into the hunt that weren't there this time last year. It’s huge. We're talking about a tightly fought and vicious Eastern Conference where the 12th place team may be 4 points behind the 8th place team come May. One slip up and you’re gone.
While this is all happening right before their eyes, the Senators look to be standing around wondering why they aren't the best team in the east anymore? Guys like Jason Spezza, a player who has never known adversity or struggle (remember, he didn’t WANT to play for the Ice Dogs so he left for a better team), and everyone else seem unable to cope with the fact that every night isn’t the cakewalk of past Novembers. The reality check remains without a check.
Its like watching a rich person lose their fortune but still refusing to admit they must toil with the regular folk.
And while the entitlement is gone, the sense of entitlement looks to be dying a slower death.
So when will things turn around for the Sens? When will this still heavily talented team get their act together and start winning games?
I’ll tell you: When they finally realize that they are no better than any team out there and start clawing and fighting and battling like there is no tomorrow, like there are no easy minutes, and like they really want it.
But hey, keep blaming it on the Powerplay. I’m just one opinion.
(This post was written by The Muppet. His fourth entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member)