Ray Ferraro on the Montreal-Philly broadcast tonight:
"The breakout pass during a powerplay is easily the most underrated portion of the sequence..."
Yeah, and that's why the league treats puck-moving defencemen as if they're coated in platinum as well.
Ray Ferraro on the Montreal-Philly broadcast tonight:
(Ed. Note: That title's umlaut-y goodness pleases me to no end.)
Two tickets for the game vs. San Jose (Section 102): $286
Valet parking: $30
Expressing monumental relief after realizing that minus concessions and tips, I didn't pay a cent to watch that game: Priceless.
Two rounds of Trooper, Stu being forced to explain the Kiss Cam to fans and a crowd of 17,000 and change who truly behaved as if they couldn't give a damn. Stay out of the building, kids. It's a bad scene.
P.S.: Just a heads-up here -- I'll be spending the trade deadline surfing the ice floes around Alex Auld's camp (that's "cottage" for you non-Lakehead types). It's safe to assume I'll be happier if Schubert and Neil get the boot -- goodnight now, Manschettenknopf* and Pee-Wee Toe Drag. It's been real.
*Yes, I called him "cufflink". It's one of the few German words I know. Don't ask.
Here's Carrie Underwood's high school-esque reaction after being spotted at the Sens-Preds game last night. Apparently she failed to see the irony in the move, because her reaction is currently making the rounds all over the place.
Your ass was warned. The goodness (or a reasonable facsimile of it) begins at 7:45.
Yeah, so I know this'll go over about as well as your wife's/significant other's flannel onesie on Saturday night, but here's the thing...
A handful of games in which the Sens appear, well, relatively effective, is a good thing -- no one's debating that here. But can we all calm down in regards to players like Brian Elliott and Brendan Bell? The way some are going on about Elliott, you'd think they were fantasizing about getting a rubdown with that hot glove hand of his. As I pointed out to the OBC last night, many goaltenders have seen bright moments in this town before crashing and burning. There's absolutely no harm in letting him play out the string -- it'll help him get a feel for the big leagues, and it likely won't hamper his development. That being said, you'll have to excuse me if I don't feel like he deserves a Vezina nomination just yet. History does NOT run in this kid's favour. Credit to him if he beats the odds, but I'm not betting on it. Just saying.
As for Bell -- yes, it's all very lovely that the Sens are getting offensive production from someone on a two-way contract, but given the Sens' overall defensive woes, I think we need to keep it in perspective. A team that considers Brendan Bell as its potential power play QB of the future is a team in desperate need of a blueline makeover.
Well, that's all for this week. Expect things to be quiet around here for the next couple of days -- The Driver and I have plans this weekend (I'm expecting Chris Cuthbert imitations over dinner), but meet us back here on Monday, when the OBC will be hooking up a live blog for the game vs. Nashville. Topics on the agenda include SLC's burlesque house etiquette, the possible re-emergence of Antoine Vermette and whether it's acceptable to bark at the powerhouse actor known as Colm Feore. Trust us, it'll all make sense if you show up.
Leafs fans are going to have a field day with this. TUC's friend Alanah from Kukla's Korner has unearthed some serious gems from Ray Emery's Facebook page (a person with access to Ray's listing was kind enough to forward them to her). These appear to have been taken last season during a party where a hypnotist was present (although that still doesn't justify seeing Alfredsson in a getup similar to the dress that Gwyneth Paltrow wore during her Oscar win).
We were able to make out Furbligno in the 'banger gear -- is that Phillips in the red? Feel free to take a stab at it in the comments.
Want more (including Mike Fisher as Andy Warhol)? Go here.
Here's the thing: I know everyone was in full-on goober-mode after the Sens' "character win" vs. Buffalo on Saturday. Yes, very good -- Ottawa was able to pull off a shootout victory after almost blowing it in the third. Miracles can happen, and dogs can live with cats (as Miss Sherry pointed out in an OBC post-game e-mail).
Wins should make the fans happy, right? Nothing else matters? Uh, no -- not on this blog. Not when all I wanted to do was tear Brian Lee's emaciated limbs off (now there's a visual).
I get it -- he's still quite young (he'll be 22 next month). I understand that he's only played in 33 regular season games. I acknowledge that defencemen take longer to mature, and I know the hammer can be brought down only so hard, OK?
But I'm still bringing it.
Defenders of Lee might want to remember that he played in all four of the Sens' post-season games last year. You'd think such an opportunity would make a kid quite nervous. However, it also would have forced him to work through his fears, and perhaps, calm down a bit.
It sure as hell didn't appear that way on Saturday. If you're looking for a prime example, check out the Sabres' first goal. Lee skated behind the net with the puck, and was obviously waiting to make the breakout. When Tim Connolly dared to skate in and forecheck (gasp), Lee freaked out and in his feeble attempt to dodge a hit, he expectorated the puck right into Buffalo's lap.
(Aside: Should someone have come in to help him as soon as Connolly made his approach? No doubt, but we've been dealing with that problem all year. That still doesn't justify Lee putting the priority on not being jostled as opposed to protecting the puck. Could you imagine him on the streets of Mumbai? Would he just stand there and scream in the manner of Ned Flanders or similar? That's the way I picture it, but I don't know if he can hit such a high pitch. Someone snap the little darling with a wet towel and get back to me.)
The "don't touch me" attitude reared its ugly head again late in the third, when Lee sensed an opponent lining him up along the boards as he was skating up ice. So what did 55 do? He got rid of the puck by dumping it in -- except he did it prior to hitting the red line. Pointless icing when the game is tied? Not hot, Babyface.
Since drafting him in 2005, the Ottawa Senators have all but admitted that Brian Lee was meant to pick up where Wade Redden left off. Are you buying what they're selling right now? This panic-stricken kid who shuns all body contact* is supposed to be the next franchise offensive defenceman? Who's been grooming him?
Oh, that's right -- Cory Clouston. Should he have a go at Erik Karlsson next?
Go ahead and chew on that. More later.
*Yeah, I know. In some ways, he's a Senator already, isn't he?
Worth passing on: The Driver insists that Nick Foligno looks like a Furby. Over-under on when the blog begins referring to him only as "Furbligno"? 48 hours. Get your action down now.
Two players, each with seven goals a piece. One is being paid 6-million dollars this year; the other will be getting $850,000. The difference goes towards heart, PK time, churchiness and tabloid titillation.
(Aside: Please don't give me a headache by turning this into something it's not. I know they're not the same player. I just find it hilarious that they have equal goal totals right now.)
Look at those odds. All that hard-fought tanking, and for what? Suck harder, damnit! (Yeah, yeah...I know. That line will be filming outdoors on a bare mattress in the San Fernando Valley this weekend. Come one, come all. OK, I'll just stop it here. Gimme a break -- it's Friday.)
The Toby Jug or the Cup of Demons? This picture was taken during the recent Florida-Toronto game. Now you know how Jacques has been weaseling his way into the playoff race: He's gone pure evil.
(Ed. Note: Thanks to Jason for the photo.)
Other miscellaneous crap...
- Interesting to watch the Senators play last night as if they actually gave a damn (emphasis on the first word of the sentence). And yes, I know Brian Elliott made some choice saves -- including in the shootout -- but mark my words: He is not the guy. He cowers too far in the back of the net, the positioning is questionable...and that's just for starters. For the record, you can put Sens goaltending coach Eli Wilson in the same category as Greg Carvel. Can someone explain why he's still here?
- Oh, check this out: Furbligno (hope you got your bets down in time) moved his feet on the PP, and good things happened. 15, you might want to take that down for future reference. Just saying.
- Finally, you can consider the following as your weekend Chewable...here, let me get the photo up so it feels official:
There we go.
Olympic champion Michael Phelps' recent public rendezvous with the bong has resulted in at least one sponsor cutting ties with him. Kellogg's announced yesterday that they were not renewing their contract with the swimmer.
Now I'm just hypothesizing here based on what I've heard, but isn't cereal one of the ultimate stoner foods? Sure, people might have a bad trip and put gravy on it instead of milk*, but along with Doritos and Cool Whip, I thought it was right up there. And just for the record, Kellogg's isn't trying to kill your buzz by only producing cereals like All-Bran and Corn Flakes. Did you know they're the ones behind Froot Loops? That cereal virtually screams, "burnout". They also make something called "Mini Swirlz". I don't know what those are, but they sound trippy. Do those go better with E? Do people still do E? I'll shut up now. Long story short: If I'm Phelps' PR man, I march into Kellogg's tomorrow to tell them that his client was attempting to identify with some of their loyal consumers.
Have a good weekend, cynics. More later.
*I know what you're thinking. No, definitely not. But in high school, my best friend got kind of messed up one night and proceeded to jam a miniature statue of St. Jude up her nose (just the head) -- but that's only when she wasn't eating Miracle Whip straight out of the jar with her hands. Kids, don't do drugs.
Ahem. Sorry about that. Bloody Team 1200.
Ever wondered what it's like to do business with a professional sports franchise? TUC's friend Steve Ladurantaye of The Globe and Mail recently conducted an interview with Ottawa Senators COO Cyril Leeder on that very subject. Here's a clip:
What can a small company do to better tailor its business pitches to pro sports teams?
Cyril Leeder: Be brief and specific. Be prepared to be competitive. If we make a commitment to use your service, you had better be prepared to make a commitment to be a season-ticket holder and sponsor of the hockey club.
Want more? Go here.
Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun on TSN's Off The Record yesterday:
"I keep hearing how Ottawa fans want a puck-moving defenceman. What was Joe Corvo?"
DE-FENCE-MAN. Can we please focus on that word, kids? It's kind of important right now.
It does Ottawa no good if a player can move the puck, but can't be trusted in his own zone. Yes, I know there are stay-at-home guys, but come on -- their first job is to defend. If not, they'd be forwards. Ottawa has seen guys like Joe Corvo, Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros come and go. What did they all have in common? They could move the puck (some better than others), but they were also the source of many of a myocardial infarction when the play came into the Senators' end.
Don't gloss over the issue, because this isn't just an obsession about the breakout pass. It has to be the right guy -- one who can be trusted both in front of and behind the blueline.
Craig Hartsburg -- the coach who kinda looked like a poor man's Dicky Barrett -- has been given the boot.
Two thoughts here:
1) Does Melnyk think he can coach and/or is he going to make the next hire himself;
2) Who does Greg Carvel have naked pictures of? According to my math, this is move No. 4 he's going to skate through. How is he not part of the problem?
More to come as this hot mess develops throughout the day. Stay tuned.
UPDATE #1: Garrioch says Cory Clouston is taking over. Jeebus help us all if this is true. Best take on TUC's texts so far: "(Cory) Clouston is Hartsburg without the personality."
UPDATE #2:: Darren Dreger is reporting on the FAN 590 that Clouston will be given the interim tag. Remind me again why they're doing this?
UPDATE #3: We're hearing rumblings of Pat Quinn (and no, not his stomach). Apparently he named was dropped last night within the inner sanctum as the knife fell. True? No? Stay tuned.
UPDATE #4: Alrighty then -- press conference done. Much obliged for the softball q's, boys. Sheesh. So here's the synopsis: Murray says that Clouston -- yes, it's him -- is here until the end of the year. Murray said he did this, basically to assess the performance level of the players currently in Ottawa uniforms. Claims there's still "big decisions to be made". Pfft. Probably the most interesting thing the GM said was this: Mr. Eugene is NOT pulling the strings -- he allowed Murray to make the choice, and that there were some choice veteran names he "was thinking about". Murray wanted Clouston (whose name he does not know how to pronounce, by the way) because he "knows our players and prospects" and can get "maximum performance" out of them. "Cory earned this...he deserves this", Murray later added. Damn dude, what the hell did you do in Binghamton to be thrown into such a mess? For the record, Cory insists he's "not a player's coach". Does it even matter any more? He also added that he's been "pigeon-holed as a defensive-minded coach", but that isn't true either. You know, because that would be really bad, given the current situation.
I'm really surprised no one stepped up to ask what Clouston has that the veterans do not. (More naked pictures, perhaps?) Anyone have an answer for that? As for Quinn, does this mean he's truthfully out of the picture? Melnyk was practically dry-humping him at the WJC's. Has the relationship cooled, or does he want his boy to start fresh next year...with a clean slate perhaps?
Let the mania continue, cynics. More later.
...because the old-school Jungle listener in TUC still giggles after hearing Bruce Springsteen utter the line "tramps like us...".
I know a lot has gone down in the past few days, and frankly, I was not available to hit on any of it. Therefore, I'm going to concentrate on the bits that stood out to me the most, and leave the rest for leftovers and miscellaneous stuff. Ready? Here we go...
TUC is still trying to figure out what Mr. Eugene's deal is. One day he's venting and applying completely inappropriate analogies to the Senators' woes; the next he's on the radio acting so sickeningly sweet and positive you'd think he was freelancing for Disney...or a chiropractor.
Look, I get that the guy has to pull for the team -- after all, he's the one who's ponying up for them. But no one's forcing him to open his mouth right now, and therein lies the rub. These days, Ottawa fans don't want to hear that this team has a legitimate shot at a playoff berth, a lengthy post-season run, or God forbid, a Stanley Cup victory. Why? Well, because it's a bunch of bull(expletive). (Sincerely, Marcus Allen -- CBS Sports.) Hell, it wouldn't do them much good to keep from humiliating themselves on a daily basis, because as it stands, there are top-shelf draft picks at stake -- and damn good ones, too. What does an eighth-place finish in the East get you this year? Your precious two-game homestand gate receipts? Repeated nostalgia from all those post-season sweeps of yore? Way to pump up the masses, Mr. Eugene. Enjoy your season ticket base of 8,000 people next season, and by the way -- pass the C-4. Some of us are smart enough to realize that not everything can be fixed with bandaids, rotating personnel and kids from Colgate University.
The crazy Columbus ginge known as Mike Commodore weaseled his way into my heart a couple of days ago, when he let loose with some unflattering thoughts about his tenure in Ottawa. Now to be fair, I don't really give an arse about his beef with Bryan Murray. That being said, this little quip was bank:
"I didn't play well. I was not a good player," Commodore said. "But when I go around the room and ask the other defensemen how we play in our own zone, and I get six different answers how am I supposed to fit in?
I swore up and down that Commodore said something similar (although maybe not as direct) during his actual time as a Senator, but damned if I could find it when I needed to. Regardless, the following helps to illustrate what I've been saying for some time -- the Ottawa Senators are completely lacking in a proper defensive system. This -- combined with the lack of effective puck-moving blueliners -- is destroying them. I'm not going to defend Commodore's play as a Senator (e.g. him not showing up as the hard-nosed guy fans were expecting), but it's one thing to not understand a lesson that's being taught -- it's a whole 'nother ball of wax when you're expected to learn without any lesson at all. I know these players make a lot of money and we in turn, expect a great deal from them. But for all their talent, you can't simply send a defensive core out there and tell them to just "be". It's not that Zen. You have to find it somewhat telling that a former player is coming out with claims against the Senators' defensive structure (or lack thereof). It would be wonderful if Ottawa would actually get off their ass and do something about it, as opposed to being blasted in the media by unhappy ex-employees.
Finally, let it be said that TUC is viciously unhappy to watch William Houston of The Globe and Mail unceremoniously ride off into the sunset. God willing, the appropriate person will come along to step into his place. They're big shoes to fill, but the Canadian sports media desperately needs someone to keep it in line -- be it at the Globe, or another any other traditional outlet of significant size.
One of Houston's final columns provided me with quite a laugh (although surely unintentional) when he wrote about the CBC's issues with the word "pansification", and Don Cherry's refusal to say it. Here's a clip from the column:
Cherry has mimicked effeminate males when discussing the media in the past. But he said he has never publicly put down homosexuals.
"I've upset just about everybody else, but never ever said anything about gays," he said.
The Hockey Night commentator said yesterday he supports gay initiatives and has influenced teenagers to come out of the closet. He recalled plugging a gay hockey tournament in New York on Coach's Corner several years ago.
"I got a nice letter from the head of the gays thanking me very much," Cherry said. "The whole deal. And I wrote them back, too."
Honestly, that's lovely. But "the head of the gays", Don? Seriously?