Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Same Old Song and Dance

Though Martin Gerber is often mocked for looking, and occasionally playing like the Gerber baby, last night's match made him seem much more like the military knife of the same name. Not because he was sharp or precise, but because watching the Senators lose to the last-place Oilers so spectacularly was about as much fun as being stabbed with one of these.

And really, what can be said in anyone's defence? The entire offense was invisible, the defense gave up chance after chance, Elliott was his usual mediocre self, the crowd sounded flat (though, in fairness that may have just been Sportsnet). Hell, the only goal scored came off an Oilers defenseman's skate. And this wasn't exactly the Darth Gerber we all fell in love with for the two weeks where he was good in Ottawa -- he nearly scored on himself in the middle of the second, for christ's sake!
At this point, though, I'm at as much of a loss as anyone as to how this can be fixed or salvaged. Any trade at this point will be a reactionary one, similar to the Stillman-Commodore deal a few years back. Trading scraps for proven players seems unlikely at this point, and our assets are just too severely undervalued right now to get anything of worth. At the same time, though, something has got to be done. The team needs a shakeup. Some emotion. Anything.

We can always hope that Dany Douchebag's return on Thursday will spark some kind of emotion among the players. It's definitely got the fans going, obviously, and anti-Heatley stories are already popping up all over the Sun, Citizen and online with no sign of relenting until puck drop. Personally, I'm really looking forward to not only the game, but the fans' reactions as well. Something tells me that the Gap-Toothed Asshole will be getting more than just a shower of boos; fans boo players who did nothing wrong to us, like Chara and Havlat.
No, I'm expecting at least a few "Heat-ley Sucks" and "Fuck You Heat-ley" chants, maybe a couple of jerseys making their way to the ice, and it wouldn't surprise me to see an effigy of the overpaid whiny glory boy burning in front of SBP. Anything you guys want to see happen, aside from the obvious curb-stomping of the Sharks and their "all-star" winger who wanted more options that weren't Edmonton?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On the B-Sens...

I got an opportunity to check out the Binghamton Senators take on the Hamilton Bulldogs at Scotiabank Place last night (thanks again for the ticket, @CassiieD!) and, as someone who doesn't get much of a chance to check out the farm team, thought I might take a moment to list a few thoughts on the "stars of the future" like Martin St. Pierre Patrick Wiercioch, Robin Lehner and others.
  • Jim O'Brien was one of the best-looking players out there. He dug into corners, got the puck to open players, and played an all-around gritty game. My GOD does he need a haircut, though. Just saying.
  • Oh, while I'm on about Jimbo, new nickname idea: O-B-Jim. Eh? Eh?
  • Patrick Wiercioch was pretty much invisible for most of the game. He made a few nice passes about halfway through the third, but for a supposed offensive defenceman, he need to be more visible out there. He's still a few years off.
  • Robin Lehner looked solid. He reminded me a bit of regular season Patty Lalime. Coincidence, he also wears the same number. So, here's hoping he changes his number to 1 for the playoffs...
  • Bobby Butler and Corey Locke, the so-called "dynamic duo", looked a bit weak last night. All of Butler's shots were either hesitant, resulting in deflections off Bulldogs' sticks, or wide of the net. Locke, meanwhile, wasn't feeding him the puck and was really weak on faceoffs.
  • Another player who really impressed was Colin Greening. All night long, he made the smart play. Assuming he continues developing, Greening could be a great 4th-liner on the big club.
  • Lastly, and this is more of a question to anyone who was at the game... anyone know why the Bulldogs pulled Sanford after the 1st?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Team's Lack of Offense is Offensive

What do you mean, that's the wrong kind of "no offense"?

Last night's "game" against the Stars was a real eye-opener -- please note that I use the word "game" very lightly, as games are supposed to be fun and entertaining, not so boring that they lull you to sleep -- insofar as the team's complete lack of goal-scoring prowess. Sure, our favourite scapegoats, the goaltenders, haven't been stellar. Common consensus is that our defense is softer than Alex Daigle's nurse uniform and more apathetic than an emo kid. Hell, you know it's bad when popular opinion is that a future phenom who's been a bit light on the physical play should be scratched for a journeyman 7th defenseman.

But beyond that, how often do you see anyone attacking the team's offense, or lack thereof? After scoring seven goals in the past seven games, you can bet that these articles will start popping up everywhere, but the bare facts are simple: with goaltenders like Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliott, you need more than one goal per game to win. And the "regular contributors" sure as hell aren't helping issues.

Players who were counted on to bring a scoring touch this year have been very hit and miss. Some, like Spezza, are maintaining their usual production. Others, like Alfredsson and Kovalev, are exceeding expectations so far. But the vast majority of the offense lines -- the Michaleks, Regins, Folignos and Fishers of the team -- just aren't cutting it. Together, they've combined for 32 points through the first 22 games of the season. To put this in perspective, that's the same amount of points that Alfredsson and Gonchar have, combined.

Of course, no one expected any of the secondary scorers to be competing with a top-tier guy like Alfie or Spezza. But when Alfredsson is nearly doubling the scoring pace of Regin or Michalek, that's a sign that the secondary isn't doing its job.

Adding to the struggles of the four aforementioned players...
  • Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Neil have only got one goal each on the season.
  • Our defence (combined) has accounted for 10G, 29A.
  • Milan Michalek has the team's second best shooting percentage among regulars (14.3%) but is only 8th on the team in shots (35). Maybe he needs to shoot more?!
  • Two young goal-scorers, Regin and Foligno, have the third-worst and worst shooting percentages, respectively, among Sens forwards. (2.9% for Regin, 0% for Foligno)

At some point, something has got to be done to fix this glaring problem. We've tried stacking the top line, that didn't work. We tried spreading the offense out. That didn't work. We've tried everything short of, y'know, actually scoring. What would you do to fix this, readers?

Friday's game at Pittsburgh is an afternoon game (1 p.m.). Hope they do better offensively, or you'll be reading an article from me after I get back from the Binghamton game, insisting that we call up Butler and Locke and send down Shannon and Winchester.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Karlsson t-shirt winner

First off, thanks to everyone who entered the contest for the Erik Karlsson jersey t-shirt. I wish I could give each and every one of you something, but at the same time I'm not independently wealthy, so there can only be one winner.

I was impressed at the originality of some of the nicknames, and it was really hard to pick a winner, but in the end I went with Dan's entry of 'Special K'. The rationale behind it? According to Dan, "the obvious... Karlsson starts with a K and he's a special player but also like the drug his play makes you believe you're imagining it at first". Congrats, Dan, I'll be e-mailing you shortly to grab your info.

Thanks again to everyone who entered, and look for more awesome stuff in the near future!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Would you start Leclaire?

This picture: Relevance? None at all. Awesomeness? Directly proportionate to the mustache.

So last night's game saw the Sens suffer a complete ass-kicking at the hands of the Flyers. A couple of early tipped-in goals were all the goals Philly needed, but they kept pouring them on. Ottawa, meanwhile, looked sloppy in our defensive end. Our offence had no spark. Our shit-disturbers were taking more penalties than they were drawing. At the end of the day, it was just a miserable team effort.

The team is flying back to Ottawa today for Daron Richardson's funeral, which is definitely a class act, before heading to Raleigh for a game against the Hurricanes. Clouston can say they "
need a better-rounded game" all he wants, but after a game like that, changes have to be made. This is a team that won seven of their last nine games prior to last night, but a blowout like that kills so much momentum.

So why not shake things up by putting in Leclaire? After the game in Vancouver, Leclaire was scapegoat #1, despite the team not playing well in front of him. There were a few goals he should've had, yeah, but the same could be said about Elliott last night. Most people, myself included, seem to think that the Canucks were too much, too soon for the newly-healthy Leclaire. Why not play him against a weaker team and get his confidence back up? No disrespect to the Hurricanes, but they're not in the same class as the Canucks.

I'm no fan of the 'win-and-you're-in' methodology, don't get me wrong. But after the game in Carolina, the Sens go on to play the Blues, the Kings and the Stars, three great Western Conference teams. If not against Carolina, when does Leclaire get his next start? Pittsburgh? Too good of an offense. Toronto? Sure, why not throw him to the wolves if he stinks it up? If not Carolina, the next best option would probably be the lowly Oilers on November 29th. A goalie like Leclaire just doesn't do well if he sits on the bench for a long time between starts. Though, for that matter, Leclaire doesn't do well if he sits on the bench, period. Still, no pucks to the face this year yet.

The stats speak in Elliott's favour against the Hurricanes. He has a lifetime record of 4-1 and a 1.87 GAA against the 'Canes, compared to Leclaire's 1-3 record and 2.88 GAA. But y'know who else Elliott has a good record against? Philadelphia. And we all saw what went down last night.

Is playing Leclaire tomorrow the smartest move? Maybe, maybe not. But this team needs to be shown that efforts like last night's will result in change. It's only one game, so I'm not proposing trading everyone and their mothers. I'm just suggesting a minor shakeup. Besides, between a few bloated contracts and having Hale and Lee up, but not playing, it's not like we have much wiggle room to call up Zack Smith or Bobby Butler.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section. Also, don't forget that you have until the end of the day tomorrow to get in your nickname ideas for Erik Karlsson to thebreakoutpass [at] live.ca. My favourite suggestion wins an Erik Karlsson jersey t-shirt, size large.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thrashers Quick Hits and a contest!

Quick hits on last night’s game
  • Campoli looked very solid, yet again. He already seems far more poised and calm around the puck than he did last year. Who knows, maybe the deal to get him in Ottawa could still work out.
  • Alfredsson seemed a bit slow and uneasy, almost like his head wasn’t in the game. He’s due for a good game. If my memory serves me right, his last GOOD game was in Phoenix in late October… and yet he’s still putting up about a point per game. Amazing.
  • Spezza’s been doing a hell of a job being in the right place at the right time. If the rumours of him wanting out were true, I’m glad we weren’t able to find a new team for him. I don’t know how we could possibly be doing anywhere near as well if we had traded him for lesser parts.
  • Matt Carkner’s mustache is far more impressive than Erik Karlsson’s, begging the question: next Movember, will Carkner finally challenge someone who can actually grow facial hair?
  • Best sign seen at the game: Free Mustache Rides, held by a guy sporting a Mario mustache.
  • On that same note, the Sens have not lost this year when I’ve been at the game. Just sayin’. Also, I was impressed at the great view from section 316. Thanks to The 6th Sens and the Ottawa Senators for the seats!


This past Monday, I had the opportunity to listen in on a discussion with Ian Mendes (Sportsnet), James Gordon (Ottawa Citizen), Erin Nicks (The Universal Cynic) and Sean McIndoe (Down Goes Brown) regarding the usual traditional media vs. blogs debate. Though the closing message seemed to be that there aren’t many jobs to be had in sports journalism these days, something was said that really hit home with me: blogging should be treated as a hobby. A lot of hobbies people undertake cost them money, and little to no recognition comes out of it other than self-pride. But, blogging is free to do and any money you make is a bonus.

But my favourite part of blogging isn't the cost (or lack thereof). It's not the fact that it doesn't feel like work because it's fun. It's not even having a venue where you don't have to censor yourself. For me, the best part of blogging is the awesome people you can meet through your writing. And, though this blog is still pretty much in its infancy, it always brightens my day when I get people telling me I write well, or that a piece is well-thought out or well-detailed. And, for all the times I’ve had my day brightened by you guys, it’s my turn to return the favour.

So, here’s the deal: I’ll be giving away an Erik Karlsson jersey t-shirt (size men’s large). Entering the contest is quite simple: send me an e-mail at thebreakoutpass [at] live.ca, suggesting a new nickname for Karlsson. I’ll pick my favourite, and that person will get the shirt. It’s that simple!

The contest will close on Wednesday, November 17th at 11:59 p.m.

Also, be sure to follow @thebreakoutpass on Twitter!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thoughts on the Islanders game

Mercifully, this jersey didn't make an appearance.

Sorry I didn't get much of a chance to write a summary of the Islanders game, but chances are that either a) you've read/seen enough to know what went down yourself, or b) you just don't care. The upshot of it is that there's not much to recap, anyways. It was a sloppy game, a cheap win and most people will agree that Smith's hit in the first was reckless, unnecessary and left us in a terrible place to start the game.
I was in attendance on Thursday night, and the one thing that really hit me, and that I tweeted about unnecessarily on my personal Twitter account, was the sheer amount of Jersey Fouls seen in Scotiabank Place. I guess part of the experience is tackiness and personalized jerseys, but this just left me overwhelmed. I've been to somewhere between 10-15 games since I started following the Sens, and never before have I seen such an array of failure. Jerseys I saw include:
  • "Sens R" (number 1)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (to be expected, I guess)
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Manitoba Moose
  • Val D'Or Foreurs
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Team Sweden (Forsberg on the back)
  • Calgary Flames
  • Not technically a foul, but a Daigle jersey worn unironically
  • A "Jim Watson" (number 10) jersey.
  • A Kovalev jersey, no number
  • A Heatley jersey, no name. I understand taking off Heatley's name, but now that Smith has the same number there's no excuse.

It just seemed so asinine at the time, and still does. Where's the logic behind wearing any jersey but the teams who are playing? Would you wear a New England Patriots jersey to a St. Louis Rams vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game? Probably not.

Irritation at the jerseys aside, I particularly enjoyed the fight near the end between Zack Smith and Matt Martin -- not necessarily for the entertainment value, but because there were only a handful of us left in the stands, and it's the perfect reason why you should stay until the end of a game. It astonishes me that people will pay $100+ for a seat in the lower bowl but leave before the final buzzer. I don't know about you, but if I'm shelling out that much money to attend, you'd better believe I intend on getting as much value out of it as I can.

At any rate, we play the Habs tonight in Montreal. We've been pretty bad on Saturdays recently, as detailed by
Jeremy Milks at Black Aces. Let's hope that this recent streak-ish thing we've got going (4 wins in our last 6 games) keeps rolling. 7:00 start on CBC, AND we won't have to put up with Cole or Healy.