Saturday, February 21, 2004

Hello out there, we're on the air.... 

it's hockey day today!

CBC has round-the-clock coverage as part of its annual Hockey day in Canada. Coverage started at noon with an assortment of minor hockey and hockey-related human interest stories. Among them they talked with Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher (nice to have him back) along with their brothers who also play with the same junior (? to be honest, I missed part of it) team. They also had a wonderful tribute to Roger Neilson.

Sens-Flames are up in a few minutes. The beer is cold and the nachos are in the oven. Enjoy everyone!


Through 2 periods, the game has been ho-hum. 1-1.

Nice feature on Shaun VanAllen's brother in the second intermission. While he's mostly useless on the ice now, he's been a fav ever since I used to go to Cape Breton Oilers games in the late 80s-early 90s. He seems like a great guy.

Also a nice collage of Hockey Day events in Ottawa - shinny on the Canal, minor hockey team skating with the Sens yesterday, Todd White gets his number retired in Kanata.

Glen Healy is the worst colour commentator on the planet.

Joe Tasca reminds us that some of the joys of hockey being celebrated by Hockey Day in Canada aren't limited to Canada.

THIS JUST IN.... Havlat scores a highlight reel goal to make it 2-1 for the Sens. Back to the game!

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Bondra switches capitals 

With the Senators' forward corps depleted by injuries, John Muckler pulled the trigger on the long-rumoured deal to acquire top sniper Peter Bondra. While this deal has obviously been in the works for some time, the timing is excellent with Todd White's broken foot being just the most recent bite of the injury bug.

Going the other way in the deal were prospect Brooks Laich, and a 2nd-round draft pick in the 2005 draft.

The deal certainly fully backs Eugene Melnyk's assertion in the Citizen last week that he'd do "whatever it takes" to win the Cup. It seems like only yesterday that Senators' deadline acquisitions were guys like Ylonen, Sillinger, and Brunet. Decent players but... in the end it's still only Benoit Brunet. The Senators have made a few above average acquisitions too. Bryan Smolinski and Tom Barrasso come to mind. In the end, Bondra has the potential to trump them all. He's certainly the most talented player they've ever traded for.

And what's even more impressive is that he may be more than just a rental. Muckler indicated that the Sens have every intention of picking up Bondra's $4.5 million option for next year.

If I have a reservation about Bondra, it's that he seems very reluctant to leave Washington. From the TSN story:

"I didn't expect it despite the rumours,'' Bondra said on a conference call. "I was shocked, even disappointed. I'm trying to be honest. I've played for 14 years in Washington."

"I am disappointed but, at the same time, looking forward to coming to Ottawa to play for such a good team.''

In a way, you really can't blame him. He's spent his entire career in Washington, living in the city year-round. He obviously loves the city. George McPhee also sprung the trade on him:

"He never mentioned any trades and, obviously, that's why it was a shock,'' Bondra said.

There's really no reason to think that Bondra's disappointment will carry over to the ice, but hey, I just don't know what to do in this situation. The trade just seems to good to be true.

I'll leave the final word to Washington-ite Eric of Off-Wing Opinion who writes an eloquent parting tribute to a player whose career he's followed from the beginning:

"He played the point on the power play. He killed penalties. And this season, he was sold on taking on the mission of shutting down the top enemy skaters. And he did it all without complaint.

Black, Red and Gold seems pretty excited about Bondra coming to Ottawa, and he ought to be. What you're getting is a dedicated professional who won't leave anything on the ice.

One day, his number will hang from the rafters at MCI Center. But first, there's other business to take care of."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Joseph, complete to Woodcock... 

... is what I'm looking forward to hearing lots of this summer and fall. The Renegades have their go-to guy now that the long-anticipated signing of Pat Woodcock is now official. It remains to be seen how he'll fare as the target of increased attention and double coverage as the Gades' primary target, but there's no reason to think he can't cope.

I wonder who it could be? 

The Renegades have called a press conference for this afternoon to announce a signing. Presumably it will confirm the worst kept secret in town.

Misc. notes and links 

Aiee... it's been a while.

- The Sens, entering into a hectic 5 game week, seem to be back on track including their 4th win in a row, 4-1 over the Rangers, yesterday afternoon. Zdeno Chara led the way with a Gordie Howe hattrick.

- Peter Shaefer sustained an "upper body injury", which according to the Citizen story is a neck injury that will be evaluated day-to-day.

- The Sens are in Washington tonight. They should leave with two points, but will they also leave with a new winger? Things have been quiet lately, but who knows?

- Tom at Canucks Corner has by far the most entertaining take I've seen on the NHL's financial state.

- Ben at the Net Files has an excellent piece challenging the fairly common suggestion that all Sunbelt teams are struggling.

- BlackRedGold is worried about Eugene Melnyk's promise to be more hands on. As New York Yankees fan for most of my life, I've seen the worst (the late 80s and early 90s) and best (acquiring ARod) of hands-on owners. I agree with BRG that the best owners support their operations people by providing the resources to allow them to do their jobs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Injury bug bites: biped Bonk breaks base 

Out 4-6 weeks.

Lalime: near sniper 

On a day when puck handling goaltenders were rumoured to be facing extinction, Patrick Lalime, whose skills in that area have been shaky at times, nearly became one of the rare goaltenders to score a goal. The attempt came as a surprise (to me at least) and I was disappointed to see it miss. The Sun had the following description:

Todd White's missed chance from the slot -- with Blues goalie Chris Osgood on the bench for an extra attacker -- created the good natured ribbing you'd imagine it would. Especially since Patrick Lalime came almost as close to scoring with a backhand only moments later. Asked if he mentioned that small fact to White after the game, Lalime laughed. "It's the first thing I told him," he said. White explained his effort by saying he believed he was going to be rushed by the closest two St. Louis players. "Apparently, I had a little more time than I thought I had," he acknowledged with a grin. "At least that's what all the guys are saying." ... Lalime said he's never come so close to scoring in his life. And make no mistake, he was trying to score. "We had a two-goal lead, why not? I figured it would be a good time for it. I've never really tried before. I've never really made it the full length of the ice, I don't think. But that was a pretty good backhand, eh?," he said, then looking for Shaun Van Allen, added: "It was probably as hard as Vanner's slap shot."

Lalime would have been the 7th goaltender to score a goal, but only the 5th to do it on purpose. Billy Smith and Damian Rhodes didn't shoot at the net but were the last to touch the puck before errant clearing attempts.

The near-miss was characteristic of a game that featured bursts of the spectacular, surrounded by stretches of nothingness. Both of Hossa's goals were spectacular, as were his and Alfredsson's near misses (both hit posts/crossbars on breakaways). Chara also hit a post early on and was challenged to a fight by Mini-Me.

In the end, what may be most important was that Lalime looked much better in nets than he has in a while. He didn't have to make any spectacular saves, but he did make a few very good ones, including a nice glove stop off the stick of Murray Baron (IIRC). Very encouraging.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004


Well, it seems I'm one of the few in the hockeyblogosphere to not have commented on Don Cherry's most recent incident. While it was a stupid and ignorant thing to say, Tom Benjamin of Canucks Corner reminds us of an apropos Pavel Bure quote today:

After one particularly galling insult, the Vancouver media rushed to Pavel for a comment. "What can I say?" he said with a shrug. "I can't comment about the clown in the circus. We are all supposed to laugh at the clowns."

Roy on pad size 

They say that comedy is all about timing, and what makes Patrick Roy's recent statements funny is that the idea occurred to him the year after he retired.

Slightly self-serving timing aside, the idea is a good one. Reducing the size of a goalie's pads from 12 inches to 10 is a good way to increase scoring without compromising a goaltender's safety.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

All-fie star game 

In a performance that gives hope to the cause of cat-dog unity, Daniel Alfredsson combined with his comedic muse and countyman Mats Sundin, and Gary Roberts to lead the Eastern Conference over Joe Sakic 6-4. The line combined for 7 points, including 2 goals and an assist from Alfie.

During the second intermission, Gary Bettman barely restrained himself from throttling Ron MacLean during their interview. Let me be the first to predict that Bettman will come publically unglued (not in the "wardrobe malfunction" sense) at some point during the CBA negaotiations. He seems bothered with anyone who dares to question that the NHL's numbers may not be 100% kosher.


Though you'd never guess it from listening to the Team 1200 last week, apparently Senators fans are among the most satisfied in the league. An ESPN "study" has ranked Sens fans second to Oilers fans among NHL teams, and 10th overall among all 120 teams in the big 4 sports.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

The latest on Woodcock 

The Montreal Gazette has a piece on Pat Woodcock who will take his chances with free agency. The Renegades are a strong candidate to land him.


I'm a big fan of sabermetrically inclined baseball sites like Baseball Prospectus and Baseball Primer. I've looked for similar statistically inclined sites for hockey, but they seem to be rare.

Well, today Colby Cosh features a solid piece on the correlation of a team's goal differential and place in the standings (thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the link). For those of you familiar with the concept of Pythagorean standings in baseball, this would be the hockey equivalent.

I've only had time to briefly look at the numbers, but Cosh found that, based on their current goal differntial of +61, the Senators should have 78 points right now.

I hope to write in greater depth about the article later, but for now go take a look.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Don't believe the hype - it's a sequel 

I love a good rivalry as much as anyone, and Sens-Leafs is nothing, if not a good rivalry. However, I'm now officially sick of the hype. Since Saturday, the papers, the radio, and TV have been constantly filled with virtually nothing but cries for more toughness. While I don't disagree that the Sens could use a little more toughness, the media has blown the need so far out of proportion that it's gone from the slightly hyperbolic to the ridiculous. I thought that Tiger Williams' xenophobic rant in McRae's column was the low point. If the hype is this intense for a pair of regular season games, I can only imgine the onslaught if they end up meeting in th playoffs.

Hopefully acquiring Todd Simpson will calm some nerves within the media and fan base. The trade was a good one as it strengthens the 3rd pairing, as well as adding some toughness.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Accentuate the positive 

First, the bad news: The Sens 2-1 loss the Devils dropped them into sixth in the conference and third in the Northeast behind the Leafs and the Bruins.

Good news #1 - The Leafs' 4-1 loss to the Hawks means the Sens didn't lose any ground relative to first.

Good news #2, and potentially more important is that Patrick Lalime played an excellent game, stopping 24 shots, including 15 in the third. Hopefully this will spur the turnaround that will end "the goaltending contraversy".


The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Don Brennan was in full panic mode in the Sun today, proclaiming the urgent need to acquire muscle in the next 48 hours. Everyone from Ottawa's favourite crush, Georges Laraque, to Rob Ray (in a triumphant return) is an option. The only candidates not mentioned were the best ones. We need to bring in the Hanson brothers. The foil's on me.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Saturday Night's Alright for Fightin' 

Ok, I've finally lost that crazy unhinged Darcy Tucker look from my eye and am ready to write again. More importantly, I have a few minutes to do so.

By this point most everything has been covered. The Sens couldn't capitalize on their many PP and couldn't kill off the few penalties they took. Pat Quinn doesn't know when to shut up. Tie Domi further cemented his spot in the Cheap Shot Hall of Fame. Etcetera, etcetera. Another Sens-Leafs matchup, another bucketful of hype.

I was happy that Chris Cuthbert was doing play by play rather than Bob Cole. I'm not sure if that's a new thing - I have to admit that I rarely watch the early HNIC game - but it was nice to hear a play-by-play guy who knew both team's names. Too bad he was paired with Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Harry Neale can be funny and occasionally insightful in spots, but Glenn Healy may be the worst colour guy in the game. The more I hear him, the worse he is.

I don't remember seeing a shot of the trio in the booth, probably only because they didn't want to show Healy wearing his Leafs jersey and pom-poms.


4 pack of Guinness: $10
Bag o' nachos $3
Replacement TV after shooting out Elvis-style $500
Don Cherry's discomfort in dodging questions about Tie Domi's visor: Priceless


The news on the status of Jason Spezza and Zdeno Chara has been agonizingly slow in coming out. Brooks Laich has been recalled to replace Spezza for tomorrow night, at the very least.


Tom at Canucks Corner has a nice piece that touches on Pat Quinn's magician-like skill at misdirection. Who remembers a 7-1 loss when they're foaming about Daniel Alfredsson's fake stick throw? Who remembers Owen Nolan checking, and injuring, Jason Spezza from behind when they're worried about the dirty Senators and Joe Niewendyk's injury?


Occasionally the target of scorn after one of his rare, but high profile giveaways, Wade Redden got a helping of positive recognition today as he was recognized as the NHL's defensive player of the month. I often think that Redden flies under the radar and doesn't always get the credit he deserves. With the monthly honor and the All-Star nod, it's nice to see that being rectified.