Thursday, April 22, 2004

Post game 7 

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart." - Bart Giamatti

Giamatti, of course, was referring to baseball. However, the same could be said for any sport. Every year holds promise but in the end there is only one winner.

The parallel to baseball is apt in more than one way as the Senators had their very own Bill Buckner in nets with Patrick Lalime letting in a pair of goals so soft that the Downy bear is in awe. The backbreaking second soft goal, scored with 20 seconds left in the first, even sneaked through the wickets a la Buckner.

However, like the Red Sox in '86, the Senators did not bail their potential goat out. Contrary to popular memory, the Mets had only tied the game on the Buckner gaffe, not won it. (UPDATE: Damn that memory of mine. The Mets Tied the SERIES, not won the series, by winning game 6 in extra innings on that play) The series went to a seventh game where the Sox had a chance to pull it out before the Mets finally did. Likewise, despite the hole they were in, the Senators had 2 periods to climb out. A goal 22 seconds into the second, followed by a couple of powerplays gave them a chance to to that, but they didn't. It's not that it's impossible - Calgary had stormed back from a 4-0 deficit a few nights earlier - although it is very difficult. Belfour and the collapsing (around the net in support, that is) Leafs closed the door on the Senators season.

So now begins the near (last year being the exception) annua debate. Blow up the team? Tweak? Fire Jacques? Dump Lalime? Dump Bonk? And so it goes.

Andrew at Senators Fan Blog votes for a rehaul. BlackRedGold urges caution. Tom Benjamin of Cancucks Corner applies his always thoughtful analysis to the situation.

I stand somewhere in the middle. I've long supported Patrick Lalime, expecting a turnaround even throughout his bad season. For the first 6 games he filled all expectations. Without his performance late in game 6, there is no game 7. That said, I can't see him being back. Who will replace him is another question. I don't know that Prusek or Emery is any better *at this point*. Outside of Belfour, there are no significant free agents this summer.

The same goes for Jacques Martin. I've never been among the chorus calling for a new coach. However, I think the time has now come. It's time for a change. My ideal situation would see Larry Robinson coming to town.

Everybody's favourite whipping boy, Radek Bonk, is always a prime target for dumping on. I'm not so down on him. While he's not a dominant #1 centreman, he is a very useful 2-way player. He's underrated by many fans because he's overpaid.

After his playoff performance, I don't see the Senators picking up Peter Bondra's option anymore.

What seems to be forgotten in the early emotion of having been bounced, is that the Senators played a good series on balance. One bad period from Lalime does not change that and become cause to blow up the team.

To be continued...