Archive for December 3rd, 2008

Dissecting the Senators Disappointments

December 3rd, 2008

Anyone you talk to seems to have an answer for why the Ottawa Senators have not regained the play that got them to the Stanley Cup Finals the year the Ducks beat them to win the Stanley Cup.

First, briefly look at that Cup final. They were out muscled out played by the much grittier Ducks squad. The Ducks were built in part by Sens GM Bryan Murray with many astute draft picks and player moves. However it was newly named Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke that finished off the final pieces to that Cup puzzle. How ? With adding the necessary grit to the line up and not to mention Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer on the back end.

Murray has made some solid moves and then made some financial moves that he would like to do over. The trade last year with Carolina blew up in his face and there lays part of the problem. Murray has to be given credit for gutting out most of the problems off the ice from last years team. You can take a player that plays on the edge all night long, but you can’t have a player that lives on the edge off the ice. It’s far to much of a distraction in a hockey crazed city like Ottawa.

The story goes that Murray will be given every opportunity to fix the Sens roster this season . But just how to do that in today’s game is the hurdle for Murray, before he frankly loses his job. Which he surely will be replaced this summer by hands on owner Eugene Melnyk, if this does not turn around. The Sens owner can say all he wants that Murray is his man and he has his backing , but the bottom line is, this is a results driven industry and Murray has an up hill battle to even be able to make player moves in today’s NHL. Murray is a smart hockey man, he does understand the game there is no question, he tried to make some moves this summer to make the team harder to play against . Murray’s best move that fans may not totally understand unless you really follow the game closely was player addition Jason Smith. The former Captain of the Flyers,  who is known all around the league as a very well respected leader , tough tough man , that makes it very difficult to play against his teams.

Players with the Flyers were unhappy that there was not going to be more room for him in Philly because of money this summer. The other addition to the grit department was Jarkko Ruutu up front, Ruutu although laughed at around the league with most tougher gritty guys, still can wind up another team pretty good with reckless play. He has done what the Sens expected with only 2 goals and 7 points, that is generally right on target with what they expected. Ruutu’s 45 Pims could be a little higher if he would answer the bell and fight a little more, but this is how this guy plays the game, he is what he is, no changing him now. Murray’s failure to get a true number one goaltender could come back to haunt him. He would have been much better off when the trade to acquire Hawks tender Nikolai Khabibulin  fell through last year .  To then make the moves to free up cap room to have been able to get him this year when he was available in the early part of this season or in the summer when the Hawks went out and signed Washington Goalie Christobal Huet. Now there is no cap room for Khabiblulin in Ottawa who has been outstanding for the Hawks. Goaltending is the key position for any team that wants to take a serious run and have real success.

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NHL Notes and Tonights Games :

December 3rd, 2008

Maurice Back to Canes and With Buddy Rutherford:

Carolina GM Fired coach Peter Laviolette today and replaced him with former Canes and more recent Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice. I don’t want to say too much about this move, other than Maurice is from all reports a good guy, although they say in Toronto anyways, not  tough enough on his players.

Maurice replaces a coach in Laviolette, that is a very good coach, that understands the game but as I have said before seems to wear out the players with his act. The part that I don’t like about this move is Rutherford brings back his buddy who he fired just a few years ago and gives him another shot at the coaching job with the Canes. If nothing else in Carolina you have to admit they stick together and are a very loyal bunch from ownership to GM to now the new/former coach. Ron Francis will be Maurice’s associate coach for the remainder of the season.

Tonights Games and Picks :

ATL at OTT: Take Sens, they need a bounce back game from the loss against NYI but beat TOR at home and played well

PIT at NYR: Take Pens, Crosby is on fire and unstoppable, it seems right now

STL at MIN: Take Min, will shut down STL with their strong defensive play at home

ANA at CHI: Take Hawks, look for the young fresh Hawk legs to out skate the Ducks

DAL at EDM: Take Stars, maybe they are onto something without Avery and certainly played well on the road last night in CAL

Sean Avery Story & Video …..

December 3rd, 2008

Avery’s Way and Video of Comments Below :

Yesterday, in the NHL Notes section I wrote  a story before the Sean Avery interview in Calgary,  that I knew that he was going to use that exact same line to Dion Phaneuf, the difference was I thought, as Avery always does it would be on the ice. As I mentioned yesterday, I know Avery very well from the years in the OHL he played against players that I represented, including as I said yesterday Mike Danton.  Danton use to laugh at Avery and his mouth in the OHL and would constantly get into debate with him about why Avery would not drop his gloves with him. This continued in the NHL when Avery was first with Detroit and played against Danton when he was with New Jersey and then again with Avery the Kings and Danton the Blues. Avery picks and chooses who and when he fights and constantly churp’s everyone on the ice. The Blues players in 2004 could not believe how quiet Avery was when Danton played head to head against him. Avery simply wanted nothing to do with fighting Danton head on.

That said Avery can play the game and is a very effective player, just look at the Rangers record last year when he was in the line up vs when he wasn’t. The Rangers were a much better team when he was playing and he was loved in New York by the fans, this much there is no question. Brendan Shanahan took care of Avery’s mouth at the rink last season and the Rangers would not allow Avery to talk to Canadian sports media and did their best to try to protect him from that. Brett Hull co GM with the Stars played with Avery in Detroit and signed Avery to a lucrative free agent multi million multi year deal this past summer.

Hull, today on Hockey Central radio show said that he, himself has no control over what owner Tom Hicks may tell them to do about Avery’s comments, Hull said that he is not sure if the kid will be able to continue with the team. Avery is an idiot for saying what he said premeditated to TSN cameras and should have saved it, if he felt that it would get his team an edge on the ice, then  saying it to Phaneuf only and only on the ice. Phaneuf would fill in Avery’s face without a doubt if there was a fight , so chances are Avery would run his mouth and still be scared to drop his gloves 1 on 1 with Calgary’s tough rearguard. Avery may have to move on now and if he does, he will move with this big contract with him . If he shuts his mouth and just plays the game and stirs the pot on the ice and on the ice only, he is a very useful player and would help any team needing that element to their roster. I can think of several teams that could use his style of play including Toronto and Vancouver to say a few. They both have the cap room to add Avery and both have General Managers that they may be able to handle Avery and keep a lid on the big mouth kid. Avery if nothing else is interesting to watch, but yesterday he went way over the line with his premeditated comments. Video below :



Dissecting The Sens Disappointments . . .

December 3rd, 2008

Anyone you talk to, seems to have an answer for why the Ottawa Senators have not regained the play that got them to the Stanley Cup Finals the year the Ducks beat them to win the Stanley Cup.

First, briefly look at that Cup final, they were out muscled, out played by the much grittier Ducks squad. The Ducks were built in part by Sens GM Bryan Murray with many astute draft picks and player moves. However it was newly named Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke that finished off the final pieces to that Cup puzzle. How ? With adding the necessary grit to the line up and not to mention Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer on the back end.

Murray has made some solid moves and then made some financial moves that he would like to do over. The trade last year with Carolina blew up in his face and there lays part of the problem. Murray has to be given credit for gutting out most of the problems off the ice from last years team. You can take a player that plays on the edge all night long, but you can’t have a player that lives on the edge off the ice, it’s far to much of a distraction in a hockey crazed city like Ottawa.

The story goes that Murray will be given every opportunity to fix the Sens roster this season . But just how to do that in today’s game is the hurdle for Murray, before he frankly loses his job, which he surely will be replaced this summer by out going owner Eugene Melnyk if this does not turn around. The Sens owner can say all he wants that Murray is his man and he has his backing , but the bottom line is, this is a results driven industry and Murray has an up hill battle to even be able to make player moves in today’s NHL. Murray is a smart hockey man, he does understand the game there is no question, he tried to make some moves this summer to make the team harder to play against , his best move that fans may not totally understand unless you really follow the game closely was player addition Jason Smith. The former Captain of the Flyers,  he is known all around the league as a very well respected leader , tough tough man , who makes it very difficult to play against his teams. Players with the Flyers were unhappy that there was not going to be more room for him in Philly because of money this summer. The other addition to the grit department was Jakko Ruutu up front, Ruttu although laughed at around the league with most tougher gritty guys, still can wind up another team pretty good with reckless play and has done what the Sens expected with only 2 goals and 7 points, that is generally right on target with what they expected. Ruutu’s 45 Pims could be a little higher if he would answer the bell and fight a little more, but this is how this guy plays the game, he is what he is, no changing him now. Murray’s failure to get a true number one goaltender could come back to haunt him. He would have been much better off when the trade to acquire Hawks tender Nikolai Knabibulin  fell through last year , to then make the moves to free up cap room to have been able to get him this year when he was available in the early part of this season or in the summer when the Hawks went out and signed Washington Goalie Christobal Huet. Now there is no cap room for Knabiblulin in Ottawa who has been outstanding for the Hawks. Goaltending is the key position for any team that wants to take a serious run and have real success.

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