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...because TUC Live is hitting Toronto and NYC this week -- consider yourselves warned.

Wow, I never saw this coming -- apparently some bloggers/Twitterers are getting up-in-arms because I refuse to acknowledge the Senators' early season "successes." Naturally, these fans in rose-coloured glasses are only looking at the record on paper (currently a respectable 5-2-0, which has them sitting atop the Northwestern conference as of tonight). However, the duo of losses are more noticeable than the wins, as they took place against quality teams -- the Rangers and Penguins, specifically.

As for goals, yes, the Senators did score seven times versus Tampa Bay. But that offensive outburst is tempered somewhat when you realize that the Senators are 18-3 against the Lightning in their last 21 matchups, and have outscored the Bolts 91-38 during that period. (Ed. Note: Getting information from traditional outlets seems more legitimate when they were the ones who willingly admitted that they got it from someone else. Much obliged, Sun Media.)

It seems that many fans haven't hopped aboard this false wave of positive sentiment -- after all, the attendance numbers speak for themselves. Over the first four home games, the Senators are averaging 18,045 fans per game (a sellout of seating capacity is 19,153 with a total attendance availability of 20,500, according to the Scotiabank Place website.) By that logic, the Sens had a seat sellout against Atlanta -- a Saturday on a holiday weekend -- but had their lowest attendance thus far against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins (17,014 bothered to show up for that game).

So what have we established in this short period, given this information? Firstly, the Senators have yet to prove that they have taken the next step forward, following their turnaround late last season. They need to strong teams to task when given the opportunity, and they have to do more than win in spite of themselves (and their opponents) when battling the weaker ones (a classic example of that occurred this weekend in Montreal). Secondly, we can confirm that the Senators' gameplay still resembles octogenerian lovemaking (pre-Viagra Era): Slow, boring, predictable...with a fair amount of disgust thrown in. If you want excitement in the NHL, this is not the team to watch. And that's unfortunate, because if the Ottawa Senators want to get back on the horse, both from a competitive and fanbase standpoint, this isn't the way to do it. It might not be an outright failure yet, but it's a definite flounder.


Speaking of floundering, how many of you enjoyed Guy Carbonneau's stellar outing as part of the three-man booth in Montreal on Saturday? One of Carb's initial statements was so garbled, I swore he was having a stroke. And yes, I understand that Guy is viewed as one of "the good guys" and that I'm supposed to go easy on new media meat. Here's my response to that: Bugger off. Non-NHLers beginning on this path are subjected to intense scrutiny, and people inside the game should be held to the same standard. Carbonneau's timid delivery and complete lack of insight (i.e. "The Senators need to stop turning over the puck") left me utterly cold. That being said, if Guy had been chatty, I would have been equally turned off, but for a different reason. No sport requires the input of three individuals during a game. It all just melts into white noise after a point. Don't do it again, CBC.

More later.

10 responses to "Monday night Deglaze"

  1. Wow...how can one writer go from one of my favorites to one I've lost respect for so quickly? Who from the Sens pooped in your Corn Flakes, Erin?
    You are simply ignoring obvious facts (the Sens are playing well, the only losses have been to hot teams leading the league, they have more offensive depth then ever before, they have their best goalie ever, the economic situation has more to do with attendance then team performance, etc.) out of some kind of spite. You quote obscure stats (like the record against Tampa...from Sens teams looking nothing like the current version) to support a weak hypothesis.
    I am a Sens fan, but I'm also a realist. When they have sucked, I have said they suck. Last year, I was telling anyone who would listen that they had character issues and coaching was the biggest problem. This year, it seems you've just joined the rank of pundits that are blind to the truth that the Sens are a playoff team. They are one notch below the Eastern Conference elite (Pitt, Philly, Wash, Bos, etc.) but way above the bottom of the barrell teams like Tor, Mtl, NYI, etc. The Sens are one Top 4 D-Man away from having a totally rock solid lineup...and right now have been lucky that guys like Carkner and Picard are playing a bit over their heads against some weaker teams. Good for them! The Sens are absolutely a 5-6-7 team in the conference, with the possibility of climbing up higher if some teams (like Boston) can't get their crap together. And I think they are more built for the playoffs than many others, which bodes well.

    I, for one, think we ABSOLUTELY need some sort of "Put up or Shut up" from TUC. Pick a time frame (like the Olympic Break, or March 1) and a spot in the standings. Throw out a challenge. Once agreed: If you're wrong, you will ____________. If you're right, I/we will _________________.

    Fill in some blanks and let us know. There is none so blind as those who will not see.


  2. First off, if you're going to respond, let's leave the childish vulgarity with zero purpose out of it, OK?

    I find ironic, Sacul, that you would come after me for stating such fact-based opinions, when you are also basing your argument on seven games of play.

    1) The stats against Tampa are black and white. The Sens, regardless of lineup, have had very good luck against the Lightning. Am I supposed to believe that the opponent's quality players (i.e. your Lecavaliers and St. Louis's) arrived at the same time as, say, Steven Stamkos? To become so overwhelmed by a large offensive output against TB is naive.

    2) You can blame economics all you want, but I know many people -- some out of work, some not -- and EVERY LAST ONE chose not to renew their Senators season tickets due to the state of the franchise. This cross-section of fans totals 94 people, for the record. Furthermore, Ottawa is a government-based town that is considerably shielded from the ebb and flow of the recession. According to CTV Ottawa, the Senators had difficulty breaking the 10,000 season ticket barrier for the 2009-10 season. This is a city with deep pockets inside of fairweather coats. People are not happy, and that's the truth.

    3) Pascal Leclaire is the best goaltender the Sens have had -- and you're ready to award him that title after less than ten games? Alrighty then, knock yourself out. Respect goes both ways, dude. How can I take such a statement seriously? Were you one of the ones who was also making that claim, prior to him even stepping onto the ice in a Sens uniform?

    4)No one can accurately predict what is going to happen in regards to the playoffs at this stage -- not you, and certainly not me. If that were the case, the Sens would have been out of the playoffs in early 2006-07. And I think we all remember what happened there, right?

    5) That being said, I haven't seen enough out of these Sens yet to convince me of future success after April of 2010. Carkner playing over his head? I guess when he actually decides to move his feet, the Senators will really be in business. And one decent defenceman away is an interesting take -- you weren't planning on ditching Picard, Kuba or Campoli, were you? That troika really puts the fear of God into the opponent. Phillips and Volchenkov still run the show, yet they continue to take a beating -- asking the latter in particular to stay healthy year in and year out becomes a harder request each year. As for Karlsson, he's not ready and shouldn't be up here yet. From a defensive standpoint, he has much to learn -- and last time I checked, he wasn't a forward.

    6) I don't know what "more built for the playoffs" means. I know they've lost Heatley's predictability in front of the net and his lack of production during that crucial period -- both good things. But I haven't seen consistency, grit, a strong forecheck, clear offensive output from the D, domination of the puck and so forth...and that's just a handful of things you need to be successful in the postseason. They have been lucky -- I'll give you that. You do need some luck.

    7) You can't argue offensive depth on names alone -- that point can't be made any more obvious when you take Heatley out of the equation. It's utter lunacy. And while you're at it, look at the stats sometime. There isn't one Ottawa Senators player in the top 20 of total points scored for this season. Alfredsson is No. 21. The next closest is Fisher, and he's 73rd with his 6 pts. I guess I should be grateful that he's on track to breaking last year's stellar total, but even Andrew Brunette's ahead of him right now, and I don't know if you've noticed, but Minnesota sucks something fierce. I guess by "scoring depth" you must have meant everyone having some points. Again, seven games = BFD. I would caution you not to get ahead of yourself.

    The Universal Cynic

  3. Finally, I don't accept or hand out challenges. This is not a fan-based blog; it is one that offers observations. If the time comes when I believe the Senators are truly on the right track, it will not pain me to admit it. Until that opportunity arises, I will call things as I see them.

    The Universal Cynic

  4. Game, set, match TUC. She lowered the boom.

    Sacul: Try looking for your lost respect for Erin under a rock and stay hidden.

    She can't predict a playoff appearance anymore than you can after 7 games. The difference is her argument is fair. Yours is clouded by fandom.

    B in Greely

  5. p.s. Offensive depth means your number 1 centre is adding to the goal count. Giggles doesn't have any goals yet.


    B in Greely

  6. I didn't see childish or purposeless vulgarity in my post. (?)
    1) Sure, the Tampa stats are black and white, just meaningless. It's like saying the Habs have won 24 Stanley Cups. This affects the 09-10 team in what way?
    I wasn't awed by the output against TB...it was 2 points and the Sens played well. Mike Smith having eggs in his pants that he wished to keep intact caused the high score.
    Also, I'm not just basing my argument on 7 games, but on their lineup. It's the "on paper" argument made by every pundit, blogger and "expert". Before a season, you look at what's there and try and predict. If you wait until game 65, what's the point?

    2) As for the attendance, perhaps we're not in the same circle. I know that last year I had attended 2 October games, 0 this year. I don't have a cross-section of 94, but in my small group, lack of work has caused cut backs on expensive items. Naysayers like yourself have scared away casual fans who actually count on the opinions of "insiders" to gauge the team. The Season Tickets fiasco is due in large part to Whinypants (#15) holding the team hostage all summer and many casual fans only reading headlines. Also, corporations are very big purchasers of season tickets and suites in every market. (Federal Govt depts actually can't even partake in this, making Ottawa a tougher sell.) It's the corporations that have also cut back, due to the instability.

    3) I'm certainly not the only one saying Pascal Leclaire is the best goalie the team has ever had. This guy has been a pro for 7 years, 4 at the NHL level. He didn't just fall off the turnip truck. He's had injury issues (not exactly a rare occurence) but has been a standout at every level. Again, it's not really showing keen observational skills to point out how good he is when he retires. The reason forums exist is to discuss things that aren't yet a certainty. The probabilities are what make things interesting. In this case, there's no stretch. When Alfie says it, I tend to put a lot of weight on it.

    4) Of course no-one can predict who will make the playoffs for sure. Oddsmakers in Vegas (and Pro-Line, etc.) have a purpose. Opinions are interesting when they are based on what we know TODAY.

    (cont. on next post)


  7. (cont. from previous post)

    5-6-7) On the subject of Carkner, you can bash him all you like but people with much better NHL insight than either of us are singing his praises. No-one has ever accused him of skating like Paul Coffey and scoring like Bobby Orr. He knows what he can do and has been doing it better than anyone expected. It's like finding a hundred bucks in a coat you haven't worn in a while...you can't retire, but it sure as hell makes your week!
    Your take on the rest of the Sens D is silly. Not every one is a bruiser, a scorer, a sniper, etc. Guys that are elite scorers and defenders are rare (Lidstrom, Niedermeyer, Markov). The Sens should know...they had one and Muckler let him walk. With Kuba healthy, the Sens have a very good top 3 and about 5 players that are good 5-6-7 guys. If a guy that can hit like Volchenkov but score like Kuba can be found, well YEE-HAW! I'm sure Murray has his eyes open and his expectations low. As for Karlsson, most people agree that he's just so darn small and has a lot of learning to do. If Murray decides that his learning is best done in Ottawa as opposed to Bingo or Sweden, then I trust him! It will be up to Clouston to carefully manage his minutes, which will be much easier with a healthy Kuba. It is a little scary as a Sens fan to watch big forwards bear down on him. I'm sure no-one expects him to be the next coming of Rod Langway. If he turns into the next Mike Green (scores a ton, defends a tiny bit), he'll be a great addition to the team.
    Talking about teams "built for the playoffs", usually the ones who can win tight games, play a strong system, have "character" guys and have superior stamina (along with a good goalie!) are the ones people talk about. The Sens have often scored a ton of goals in the regular season and then dried up in the playoffs. You often see bottom sixers making the difference for cup winners (latest example is Max Talbot) and this year's Sens are very strong there.
    As for the offensive stats, you're the one bringing them up. The Sens have offensive depth, not a team full of Ovechkins. I don't expect any Sens to be near the lead for points, not even Alfie or Spezza. Even frequent league leaders like Crosby and Malkin could never have playoff success until a team was built around them.

    I think your stance on challenges is a total cop-out. You have a blog to share your opinions and observations. By your own admission, many people in the blogosphere and Twittersphere think you're totally out to lunch. The only way to measure whether your observations or opinions have any worth is how the season turns out for the Sens.

    I guess I'll set a reminder for later in the season to check back on your blog. Not really much point before then, is there?


  8. Enough with the Pascal Leclaire buildup. "Best goaltender we've ever had"? He had a great year in 07-08. 9 SO's, second in GAA and 3rd in SV %. But he has no gold medals from the Olympics or World Championships and he's never won or been to a Stanley Cup final. He's not a top goaltender and he won't play for Canada in Vancouver. You can't say he's the best ever when he has not played a month for the Senators yet. The numbers he has to beat to be the best Sen... 39 wins in 67 games, 8 shutouts (Patty Lalime) 1.79 GAA and .925 save % (Tugnutt). BTW, Lalime helped win a President's trophy and Emery helped bring us to the Finals. I haven't seen Leclaire do that yet, Sacul.


  9. 1) It's not about affecting the team; it's about demonstrating that the large offensive output means little against a franchise with few teeth. It's nothing to get overly excited about.

    2) I very much doubt that my takes -- or anyone else's for that matter -- scared away a significant number of fans; enough so to make a difference in the Senators' overall numbers. And for the record, many of my "people" chose not to renew long before the Heatley trade demand was leaked. These are flimsy excuses -- the team was bad last year, and there was no way to hide it.

    3) Alfie will never throw anyone under the bus, and in public always has a good word to say about any new addition. Of course he's going to sell Leclaire -- as captain, that's part of his job. That being said, I think I'll just let Anonymous handle the rest:

    "Enough with the Pascal Leclaire buildup. "Best goaltender we've ever had"? He had a great year in 07-08. 9 SO's, second in GAA and 3rd in SV %. But he has no gold medals from the Olympics or World Championships and he's never won or been to a Stanley Cup final. He's not a top goaltender and he won't play for Canada in Vancouver. You can't say he's the best ever when he has not played a month for the Senators yet. The numbers he has to beat to be the best Sen... 39 wins in 67 games, 8 shutouts (Patty Lalime) 1.79 GAA and .925 save % (Tugnutt). BTW, Lalime helped win a President's trophy and Emery helped bring us to the Finals. I haven't seen Leclaire do that yet, Sacul."

    4) That's right -- and our opinions differ. The issue seems to be that you have a problem with it. I don't. Opinions are never supposed to be deemed right or wrong.

    5) If Carkner was truly quality, he would have been up here last year -- defence has been an issue for some time, and he would have been a moneysaving addition. He is what he is: An AHL lifer who's catching a nice break. That's not "bashing" him -- that's telling it like it is. And how was the rest of my take on the defence "silly"? Why does everything have to be so extreme in order for you to make an argument? I point out that they're subpar -- you tell me not everyone can have elite players. That's NOT what I'm saying. Kuba is a warm body in the elite role -- he'll never be the No. 1 offensive defenceman that Ottawa desperately needs. They're attempting to groom Karlsson for that position, but it's going to take some time. Prior to that, they had anointed Brian Lee, and we all saw how that turned out. Campoli and Picard aren't NHL players on teams that could be taken seriously in the postseason. They're not feared by the opposition, because their moves are predictable, and their mistakes, plenty. I'm not saying they need to have a core of six elite defencemen. It's a nice thought, but I'm not an idiot. They need strong, consistent, responsible players. I don't see that in Campoli or Picard. Carkner, and what he brings to the table, is a moot point.

    6) As for the playoffs, again with the extremes. I brought up the stats to question the depth you seem to believe exists. You truly believe that players like Kelly, Fisher, Neil and Cheechoo are going to be consistent contributors from an offensive standpoint -- your "builders" as you put it? Enough to put this team in a favourable position come postseason time and beyond? And your proof based on prior experience is....? Good luck to you.

    7) For the record, the majority of my readers tend to agree with me, and many come back to the blog even when they don't, because they enjoy my opinions. I only reference the few naysayers to preface a post. And for as long as I can remember, no one has suggested that I am, as you put it, "out to lunch."

    The Universal Cynic

  10. 8) Call my disinterest in challenges a copout if you wish. Those who have read the column in the past, and the blog in the present, know that I refuse to kowtow to anyone. I willingly admitted to Roy Mlakar after 2006-07 that I was wrong about the Sens. I did so publicly in my column, and privately via e-mail. If I think I was incorrect, I can state so when the time comes. I don't need to be given crap about a "challenge" to do so. If you feel like there's no reason to read or comment on the blog until later in the season, that's your decision.

    And if that's all, I think it's fair to say we're done here, kids.

    The Universal Cynic