Monday, October 31, 2011

Amateur Hour At League Discipline

This is why people don't think the NHL is serious about cleaning up the game.

To review: why is fighting permitted in hockey? Answer: because the officiating is bad.

And hoo boy, is the officiating bad.

For example, on Saturday's game against the Rangers, Ottawa player Konopha is sent off for a five minute major after boarding Ansimov:

You know, boarding is where you hit an opposing player from behind into the boards. (Note to refs: the penalized player is supposed to be behind the injured player, and injured players generally miss a shift.)

Yeah. Oops.

Next, here's a screen grab of the "incidental contact" made between the Rangers' Wolski's elbow and Alfredsson's head:

Video here.

Derrick at the Senday Observer makes the case that this totally blows Brendan Shanahan's credibility right into orbit -- if not the NHL's credibility too. And he's right.

So much for integrity. So much for discipline. So much for separating acts from intent.

I mean, you might expect this kind of "regulation-free" hockey during the playoffs, but this is just a meaningless Saturday afternoon regular season game, the kind that nobody will remember in five months.

But of course, nobody else cares.

Good on the rest of the team to claw the win back from the refs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zibanejad Back To Sweden

So the word has come that wonderkind Mika Zibanejad is being shipped back to Sweden for the rest of the year following his 9-game audition with the Senators. I was going to write up a post saying this is what I thought would be best, but since the decision's been made it's kinda moot.

Basically my reasoning went:
  • Zibanejad needs more experience with the North American variation of the game;
  • in an ideal world, he would be shipped to Bingo in the way that Spezza, Karlsson, and Filatov were to learn the game without the pressure of the big team, with an eye to being called up if his game develops the right way;
  • Zibanejad can't be shipped to Bingo because he has a contract with SEL;
  • keeping him here burns a year from his entry-level deal, and there's no point of that because A) he's not going to be the difference between playoffs and no playoffs, and B) there won't be any playoffs this year;
  • letting him go back to SEL lets him play and develop his game in a familiar environment and retain his confidence;
  • he can still come back next fall into camp, and at that point can be sent to Bingo if further development is needed, and saves that first year from his entry level deal, meaning he'll all-around be a better value to the big club.
Put it all together and SEL is the right move to develop this player at this point.

This won't be popular a popular decision with the "Win Now!" part of the fan base, but all around it gives the Senators the best chance for his talents to grow and get maximum value from him. Remember, this is a 3- to 5- year rebuild process, not a one-season tweak.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Welcome To Ottawa, Gents

So my question of last week to a coworker was, "How long before the blogosphere turns on Anderson and Auld?"

Well, not too damn long as it happens:
Craig Anderson and Alex Auld have been brutal, and there’s no way to sugar coat that. When either of them lets in a softie, the whole team deflates and you can quickly bet that three or four more goals will follow in short order.
Now while one blog is by no means the whole blogosphere... the tide has turned.

Of course it would be silly of me to repeat the same things I said when Darth Gerber was the goat: these guys are just hanging their goaltenders out to dry, the goalie is only the sixth guy to not stop the puck, Martin Brodeur couldn't win behind these guys -- no, not Martin "No Relation" Brodeur, although lets face it he could win behind these guys either.

So yeah, welcome to Ottawa, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Auld. Pay no attention to the fans in the 300s who are already carving out your headstones for the goalie graveyard.

The problem is one of defense, or to be more specific a lack of defense. We have a veteren corps of "Disinterested" Gonchar, "Pillar Of The Community" Phillips, and "I Can't Think Of A Witty Nickname" Kuba. These veterans are supposedly mentoring the next generation of defense, which itself is made up of Karlsson, Rundblad, and Cowen. Oh and Brian "Why Am I Still Here" Lee who fits somewhere in between.

Either the mix-and-matching of veterans and kids isn't working, or some of these veterans/kids are not very good. And maybe it's just a case of development and experience, but personally I think Kuba's had his chance.

All this goes to show that it's going to be a long ride.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Early, Brutal Days

Yeah, it's early days yet. But so far the signs are not good.

I watched Tuesday's tilt against the Dearly Departed Dany and co, and Ottawa seemed to dominate long periods of play in the Minnesota end. The shot clock reflected this.

I'm still not convinced about the shot clock being a measure of a player's, or a team's, output. Tuesday demonstrated why -- Ottawa could run long periods of time in the Minnesota end, cranking in shot after blocked shot after shot, and all for nothing. Then the team would blink, and the puck would be in the back of the Ottawa net.

The fact that Ottawa hung on keeping the pressure applied until Minnesota started to make a few goal-surrendering-mistakes (or Ottawa kept cranking up the ugly scrambles) is a credit to them, they didn't get discouraged and they kept going.

Offense-wise there was plenty to like, defensively not so much.

And Mr. Gonchar, could you dial the give-a-fuck-meter up a notch or two? Because that was brutal at times.

And then there was the Avalanche on Thursday.

I didn't watch, and by the sounds of things, nobody showed up to play. But the shot clock was being run up quickly by Colorado: at one point it was 3-1 or 4-1 and Anderson's save percentage was still higher than the Minnesota goalie's, even though he'd surrendered way more goals. That tells you something, even if I'm not sure exactly what.

Same old same old.

So I expect that this is going to be the rhythm of the year: blowouts mixed with the occasional close-lost game and a very light sprinkling of victory.

And lots of games where the shot clock is cranked up, but nothing comes of it, and because none of these kids can play defense, blink-and-your-done type goals given up.

We knew it was going to be brutal... but really.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maybe I do care

So I says to Jenn: Look, I don't really care about hockey right now. I've watched none of the pre-season games, I'm not following training camp, I have no idea who's up or cut from the roster, I don't know what the schedule is, I just don't care.

And Jenn says: Quick, which is worse, losing a limb or the leafs winning the Stanley Cup?

And I replied: which limb?