Hello everyone and welcome back. In between UFC167 posts, I thought I’d chime in on the start of Hockey season.

In 2001 I moved to Ottawa, Canada from Israel. Naturally, one of the first things I had to familiarize myself with was Hockey. After all, it’s only the capital of Hockey country 🙂 Fortunately enough for me, the first event I attended on behalf of my company was a fund-raiser at the Corel Centre (Now Canadian Tire Centre) where I met coach Jacques Martin, Goalie Patrick Lalime, and two guys called Wade Redden and Daniel Alfredsson.

Since then, I became a hockey fan and specifically a Senators fan.

I’ve moved more than a couple of times since then (including a couple of years in Toronto), but a fan doesn’t change his colors regardless of Geography. So I was a Sens fan in Leaf town and when the Thrashers were in Atlanta I remained a Sens fan.

The new NHL season has started and I gave it some time in order to get an impression of the Sens. Now, with 14 games behind us, we can at least start to analyze the beginning (and I do keep in mind, this is only the beginning).

Current stats

14 Games played, 4-6-4 (W,L,OT) is enough for 6th in the division and 10th in the conference. All in all, 4 points away from a playoff spot (VERY early).

42 goals scored (Pretty good in general, very good if comparing to eastern teams)

47 Goals against (Not very good…)

And now, let’s look quickly at the situation and touch on the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

  • Scoring – Well, as mentioned above, 42 goals is up there with the leaders of the Eastern conference. When we look at the goal scorers, we find the natural suspects – Spezza and Ryan with 8 each. For me that’s a good sign. 5 more forwards with 3 and 2 a piece means they get production in terms of goals from more than 2 lines. Add Karlsson’s 4 to Cowen’s 2 and you get some help from the D, along with a list of players, each with 1 a piece. So scoring is not an issue.
  • Acquisitions – two main movements this summer included Bobby Ryan from Anaheim (forever trademarked as #BFR) and a surprising Clark MacArthur from that team that would not be named.  Ryan’s numbers speak for themselves, and if you haven’t watched this spectacular player on ice yet, well I have one thing to say to you – your loss. There were some grumblings around the Sens fandom about  MacArthur. You know, coming from the blue team and all. I assure you these are gone. Clark is a hard-working Senator and I believe he’s earned everyone’s respect and appreciation for his 2 ways game. His line with Ryan and Turris is great and he brings it each shift.
  • Goalies – What do you do when you have Craig Anderson on one hand and Robin Lehner on the other? I’d say, the only thing there is to say is “Thank you!”. I will elaborate further down why these two deserve our great thanks, but they have both been phenomenal for us.

The Bad

  • Defense – Leave the number of goals against. Think shots on goal. The numbers are murderously high. Both Lehner and Anderson has faced record numbers of shots on goal. Not enough blocked shots, not enough bodies on players and too many soft plays near the Sens goal. Now, this is not exclusive to the D-men. I’m referring to the defensive game, played by all 5 skaters on the ice.
  • Getting out of the blue line – For some reason, this has become a big issue for the Sens. There are many mistakes, most of them unforced in getting the puck out of the defensive zone and out of danger. Telegraphed cross ice passes. These have been studied by our opponents and it’s evident they incorporated interception at our blue line into their game plans. Giveaways inside the blue line – players not clearing the puck on time, falling prey to effective forecheck.
  • Penalties – You have to expect to give penalties to some extent. It’s part of the game at times. But there are two types of penalties the Sens have given too much so far. First and foremost – giving a penalty immediately following a good play, momentum shifter. If you just scored a goal, cutting a deficit in half, what’s the last thing you need? That’s right. To go shorthanded immediately after. That takes the wind off your sails and pretty much hands the momentum back to your opponent. The second type is the undisciplined one. You have one man in the box and are killing a penalty. Who knows, maybe the call was BS. Whatever the case may be, you have to be extra careful now and  kill this penalty off without handing a 2 man advantage, just because someone made you look bad.

Before we talk about the ugly, I’d just like to say that the good is already there. The fixes for the bad are luckily not beyond an NHL player level. These could be practiced and drilled. I’m optimistic that some changes would be made and improvement will come. GO SENS GO!

The Ugly

Hockey is a physical game. Don’t like it? well, as the saying goes “Go watch Ballet!”

A good hit in centre ice is always fun (assuming the team taking it is not yours :)), and there’s a lot to be said about playing on the boards.

That said, there’s a BIG difference between driving hard at the net, which is the most effective way to score, and driving hard into a goalie with reckless abandonment.

Craig Anderson fell victim twice to an irresponsible and not very sportsmanlike crash from a Dallas star. This resulted in Anderson going to the hospital to check his neck.

Back in the day, someone who drove into your goalie like that would feel the immediate repercussions of his act. Want to know when a penalty’s totally worth it?

What do you think about the ugly? or the bad? let us have it.

Until next time

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