Live from Armchair! James Issues 2010-2011 Report Cards

Chris Phillips Does Bang on Impersonation of Me Watching Many 2010-2011 Season Games
Playah Grade Should the Sens give them a lifetime deal with eleventy billion no trade clauses instead of a buy one get one half off dog garbage milkshake coupon? (valid only on St. Swiven’s day at participating Dumpo Hut locations)  OR  General Comments
Jason Spezza A+ Though I am confident that some people will be forever angry face about him (You don’t perform at an over a point a game clip without making a few enemies?), I don’t know what more could have been asked of Spezza that he didn’t deliver on this year. I actually feel like a lot of the defending I’ve done of him (see above) was finally validated this year/end of last year. Think of the typical criticisms of him:

  1. Needs a scoring winger to be effective (now leads team in scoring without even the likes of a healthy Alfredsson, praise be his name, for a huge portion of the season.)
  2. Does not play a two way game (now plays on the Sens very, very hot PK)
  3. Too immature to lead (bounced back from a rough offseason of drama only to emerge as leading candidate for next captain – and no more giggling in interviews though I kind of miss that.) 

For me, Spezza was the team’s clear cut mvp this season. He may always be a little on the injury prone/apple turnover side but the future looks bright for Spezza especially if a steady finisher emerges on his wing. He earned that “A” on his uniform this year. Might eventually be a “C” should he keep it up!

Erik Karlsson A- The kid overcame some challenges this year including being made a healthy scratch a couple of times as well as the ever taxing situation of playing a long run of defense in front of plus rating widow maker, Brian Elliot. Though I absolutely acknowledge Karlsson did not have the grandest defensive season, I bumped this kid up to an A- from an initial B+ for making/not being picked last for the All Star team and saving the team some much needed face at one of the darkest points of the season. Thanks little buddy! Still laughing at that Ovechkin taking a photo of Kessel thing…good… times. Anyway, I think that whole …you know…sophomore defenseman leading the team in scoring for A WHILE / AT ANY POINT might have woken up (exposed) a couple of the sleepy time forwards late in the season. Can’t be denied that he was team leader in ice time but DID get nicked by Jim O’Brien for funniest hair award. Always next year, slick.
Nick Foligno C One of the hardest players for me to assign a grade to. Remember how excited this guy got everyone during training camp, myself included? I should compile some clips of those days for youtube and title it MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS. It was painful to watch Foligno slump for essentially 3 quarters of the season especially after signing that contract over the summer. I can’t, on the other hand, ignore how he bounced back (which is starting to be revealed as apparently quite important to me) and quietly climbed up the scoring table. Still quite young, maybe Foligno is a late bloomer. Both time and patience are fast running out to live up to that moniker though. If this season was supposed to be crucial to Nicky’s development, next season will certainly be vital to marking his entire identity as a player moving forward in his career.
Daniel Alfredsson A Can we not just win one for the Gipper? C’mon guys the Gipper’s doing his goddamnedest out there. You could tell Alfie was hurt pretty much all season yet still lead the team in scoring for huge portions of it; even after being put on the IR (Ended up 5th just 2 pts behind Michalek with 13 fewer games played, gelp!). Get well soon / never retire well soon.  
Milan Michalek B- Still alive! Sure he can’t drink or dance or swear but boy can this guy skate considering he has the knees of C3P0 in that part of Star Wars when he was in that robot scrap pile. Edward Swaggerhands this guy is not, but as hard a time as he’s given for that, guy produces more than many of his teammates. Keep doin what youre doin white boy and seriously, stay well soon! I wonder if we’ll ever get to see what a seldom interrupted, 70+ game season would look like from this guy.
Sergei Gonchar D As much as I don’t hate Goncheezy (rap name) at all, I have to say this was a near fail of a season considering the very realistic expectations put on this guy. Sure it was his first season on the team (but he has played 100000000 games by now so you know, c’mon guy) AND he had the added challenge of playing in front of Elliot (how I wish I could give YOU barf out of ten, Elliot) He pretty much got sonned by the very player he was supposed to be mentoring. Considering this was a guy who had me shaking in my orange open toed imitation Crocs when the Sens would play the Pens (and that team has Crosby AND Malkin), I expected way more from The Gonch©. Hope he GETS WELL SOON (theme) and has a better or not career worst season next year (theme). He was playing much better, almost KARLSSON better, at the end of the season, btw (theme). 
Ryan Shannon C+/B- Jason York made a good point about this guy: Shannon is currently in the unenviable position of being a  bit of a Tween. In that he appears to be a 13 year old and is one of those in between roles guys. Sort of your latter day Antoine “Tron” Vermette. Seems to have the hands and speed of a top six guy but can’t seem to produce enough offense so is continually bumped down to bottom 6 as a result. *Snarky Political Attack Ad Voice* C’mon, Ryan what kind of player are you REALLY? (paid for by the friends of the CCFR). I  have absolutely loved this guy’s hustle. One of the teams most consistent workers but has been given plenty of shots by Clouston over the past couple of years and can rarely capitalize. In fairness, he is only given about 10-12 mins of ice time per game to light it up but if he doesn’t define his game quickly he may, like Vermette, find himself banished to a line with Rick Nash…wait…
Peter Regin Jensen D D is for Danish and that ain’t good enough for me. Hey! The Ottawa sun just offered me a job via ICQ! Back in September of 2010, I predicted this guy to score 20 goals (Must. Manage. Expectations.) but I knew realistically was that number could easily be between 10 and 15. What I also realistically expected was for Regin to score SOME GOALS. Sure he was finding chemistry with the ghost of Alex Kovalev but that’s about as useless as Alex Kovalev saying he found chemistry with someone. Unlike almost everyone else on the team, that 3 goal total does not constitute a late season surge. It’s not like he wasn’t trying out there (THAT was Kovy’s dept.) but a near failure of a season for the promisingish Dane. Get well(er at scoring) soon!
Chris Neil B- Chris Neil, according to askjeeves, is a human man who fights, raises the roof, chirps endlessly and scores about 10 goals per year. All told, Neil more or less did his job. He gets paid a lot to do it but when you see him make the top 5 of any list of pests and agitators it’s a feather in his cap. His role seems extraneous when the Sens fail to make the playoffs but I get the impression he’s a good locker room guy that keeps egos in check which is important with a lot of young players joining the team who will likely be getting tons of minutes. A guy with underrated skill, I would LOVE to see him score more than 10 goals again…his 6 this year are quite disappointing for his price tag.  If his numbers continue to drop, Z. Smith appears to be on the creep-creep for Neiler’s job. On the plus side, he DID punch Steve Downie’s lights out so that alone keeps him in the B range. *Pours out 40 oz. for Dean McAmmond*
Bobby Butler A- So yeah, Butlaaaahhhhh’s -19 in 33 games leaves sooooomething (truckloads) to be desired but I honestly give him an A rating for simply being one of the few guys on the team that actually stepped up and delivered on even a fraction of their hype this year. I saw him play for Binghamton and he was hands down their best player. I was excited then and still am now. After a slow start on the bottom 6, when given a shot on the top line Bobby B actually capitalized on the opportunity afforded him. Great year in Binghamton and a very solid platform to build off in the bigs. PLEASE DON’T BECOME THE NEW PETER REGIN (Jensen)!!!
Filip Kuba K- Price tag – Performance + Redundant role = My least favorite player on the team. I get the impression Melnyk is now telling Murray, “Bro’yan, I’m all buy-outted out…as a billionaire I kind of hate giving away millions upon millions of dollars all the time. Unless of course if it’s spent on a lovable aging Russian free agent!” But please, Eugey, baby, just this one more buy out. With a log jam at defense for 2011-12, I cant see a rookie/ David Hale / empty space doing worse than Kuba Badding Jr. Kuba was acquired when the club was desperate for a PMD now they have a glut young cheap ones and the overpriced marshmallow has got to find a new home. I mean, shit, even Lee has adjusted his game accordingly.  
Colin Greening B+ Let’s hear it for the 7th round guys! Seriously, he could be the 2011 version of Rudy! Though, unlike Rudy, he actually deserved to make the team! Sorry Ryan Shannon, you look the part but already have a Stanley Cup. Again, I’m managing expectations here but love seeing a guy capitalizing on the (long ass) shot he’s been given. Multi point games are also something hard to scoff at. A training camp favorite next season and a potential steal for the Sens. How can you not root for a Newfie? According to this science textbook it’s impossible.
Jessie Winchester B-? Kind of a weird season for Uncle Hessie. He did his job pretty well and during some of the darkest points of the year was probably the hardest working Senator. Still not as effective at the dot as I’m used to and his point totals are maybe a touch lacking even for a fourth liner. Winnie Cooper (anyone get that reference? wtvr) was plagued with a knee injury this season and I’m betting that had to do with a bit of a downturn in his game. I have the song “Jessie’s Girl” in my head right now and guess what, now you do too! You’re welcome.
Erik Condra B+ The OTHER Colin Greening. Anyway, like Greening, Condra was a pleasant surprise. Again, the sample size is incredibly small but, you know, he has definitely had some impressive showings. Another member of the 7th round pick club, if Condra can keep it up, he will show that the quantity of picks in a draft class can sometimes be as important as their position.  Man, I hope this guy marries someone named Anna.
Chris Phillips F+ I think that the whole resigning for 3 years thing sealed the disappointing feelings on a very sour season for Sens fans. I am remaining optimistic that this was somehow just a uhhh…flukey???  worst season of his career? We have been watching this guy his whole career and know what he’s capable of: Putting the brakes on the best players the league has to offer. Last season he did just that, WITH Volchenkov but never the less, I thought he was the team’s most underrated player back then. This year, whew boy, he’s reached Kubinian levels of hard to watchness. As a guy who insisted he be part of the rebuild, it is absolutely essential that this guy bounce back in a big way lest he become the new fanbase punching bag while potentially getting sonned by 15 year old Jared Cowan (Karlsson/Gonchar style).
Marek Svatos C Look, level with me here, heyyy you’re at work, you’re getting to read all kinds of stuff about the Sens, I’m happy to write it, you’re happyish to read it, eeeeverybody’s happyyyy…but I’ve got very little to say about this dude except, get well soon. People were saying he was coming into his own down the stretch, so, there’s… that? I don’t know, like the kid in the class that I don’t remember much about, I give him an even-Steven.  
Zack Smith C It’s a bit tough to know what is realistic to expect from Z. Smith as of yet but I think it’s safe to assume bottom 6 is his career path. Even still, if his aim is to be “the next Chris Neil”, he’d better put up a few more points seeing as he’s had about as much time on ice as Neil and has half as many points, which ain’t much to begin with. He’s well ahead of the curve in the taking bad penalties department though.
Matt Carkner B Pretty impressive that despite playing defense for the Ottawa Senators for 50 games, Carkner boasts an even plus/minus rating! A pretty short/quiet year for Carks. Did pretty well in the octagon and was for most of the season more reliable than Chris Phillips (whom Carkner trails in scoring by 1 point despite playing 30 fewer games. Man, Phillips SUCKED this year). The biggest downside for the Winchester, Ontario native is an unfortunate late season knee injury that required surgery. His job may be in a spot of trouble given the stiff competition on D showing up at training camp in September. Get well soo–you get it. 
David Hale C+ Bro and steady…this journeyman provided an early season steadying presence on the back end but ultimately was Binghamton bound. Will likely journey on next season but I’d be glad to have him back in the organization. He’s a great depth player and I wish him well.
Brian Lee B- Miramax pictures presents, from the miiiiind of Robert Zemeckis comes….Brian Lee: Shut Down D, The Say Whaaaaaat Story. Seriously, good on ol’ young B. Lee. Considering everyone was haaaaaaating this guy since signing his one way contract or since whenever. Lee worked hard, bulked up and redefined his game to emerge as a gritty shut down defender. I think Lee may have found a place on the squad as the Jessie Winchester of defense. I liked his attitude of using his 30 game benching as motivation to put in that work and find a place for himself. You, know, though, Bri-Bri, just because you’ve abandoned your rushing D ways…don’t uhhh be afraid to put up more than 3 assists total.   
Patrick Wiercioch B- Well, it has just been a whirrrrrrrrrl of wind hasn’t it? This is where the players are going to get a little harder to properly rate given the tiny sample. I cant knock the kid for putting up Brian Lee-like numbers but in 40 fewer games. I remember him getting an assist in his first game and then being in the highlights for getting absolutely wallpapered in the next game. Nothing too flashy but held his own in the bigs. Eat some steaks over the summer homie, the future looks good.
Andre Benoit ?+ See: Marek Svatos/ The cutting of some slack.
Corey Locke C+ OTT/ A+ Bingo I want to start this off by saying I am IN FAVOUR of this guy. Youngin’ brought me out of my seat numerous times at the 67s games of yore. But I don’t think you become a top AHL guy for years and not make the NHL for a reason. I loved seeing him finally get his first NHL point but I want to see this guy become the new Denis Hamel for the Binghamton squad. Keep the B Sens steady, feed the up and comers great passes and be a cornerstone of building a culture of confidence and winning in the AHL. An MVP season down in NY, congrats!  
Derek Smith C Some of these guys had a very limited audition due the dark nature of this season. D Smith was one of them. Derek Smith is a human man who enjoys hockey and likely fishing/golf.
Francis Lessard D- Look, this guy’s 1998 thesis on the impact of Ulysses on the architecture of contemporary storytelling is indisputable. In.Dis.Putable. But I mean, who are we kidding? He for sure ranks among the top sporting/literary thinkers and orators of the past few generations (arguably of all time) but to think he will be part of the defensive corps next season is as crazy as entering a debate with him over the relevance  of Herodotus.  No matter what side you take he will emerge the victor. Also, hitting Tom Pyatt from behind into the boards in the second last game of the year? As unsportsmanlike as it comes. Stick to academics.
Ryan Potulny F You weren’t going to get a shot at more minutes in the NHL than on the 2010-2011 Ottawa Senators. I am not sure of this guys’ contract situation but will likely have to light up the AHL to get back into the dance. I give him an F because he had similar opportunity as Condra and Greening but ended up putting himself on the invisible bus to Bingo.  
Roman Wick C Hasn’t this guy been Ottawa’s property for like…years now? This guy has potential for sure. We saw it with his standout performance on team Suisse at the 2010 Brolympic games…which now that I think about it might be like being the best dancer on a dance floor full of white dads…but anyway, there were a few guys that made the most of their opportunities this yeah and if they can translate that into consistency next season, Wick could find himself an injury call up for yet another season.
Jim O’Brien C+ This guy’s hair is the BEST.
Stephane Da Costa N/A So, we saw a woman wearing an AUTOGRAPHED Da Costa jersey at the game Vs. Philly  on April 5th (one of two Da Costa jerseys on the night). I hope it was his mom, because dude had played like maybe 8 minutes for the Sens at that point. Since Clouston was fighting his job when Da Costa was brought on, he used the rookie sparingly to say the least. I feel it unfair to assign a grade to a guy who played small parts of the last 4 games of the season. I, like most, are cautiously excited to get a better look at the kid. Will probably start the year on Locke’s wing.
Craig Anderson A Okay, so there’s a lot of chirping about “oOOooooOOoo, Anderson is NOT going to be the answer for Ottawa.” But that’s okay, baby cousin, you know why? I am not even looking for that with Andy. After two seasons of Elliot and a pile of wet rags, I am looking for him to be the ALRIGHTswer. I am certain that this guy will always have critics. Not much room for error when it comes to being a goalie. If homie wins more games than he loses, rock a GAA anywhere in the two’s and a save percentage anywhere in the 9’s in 2011-2012 I will be more than happy. That is of course if and when I can get confirmation that the Elliot for Anderson, straight up, trade ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Got to see him play once live and it was funny as Verada and I would watch with the slumped shoulders a 2010-11 Sens fan when the Flyers were taking second and third whacks at rebounds. To our astonishment, Anderson could keep the puck out of the net! It was crazy to see such…competent NHL level goaltending. Also, 50 save OT/Shootout victory over the loafs in Toronto on a Saturday night on CBC? That alone earned you an A.
Curtis McElhinney C+ K, for reals though, this guy has such a kick-buns mask. I personally think that Barry Burst of Delicious Real Fruit Flavor has earned a call up to the bigggz after a stellar season in Binghamtoad. If it were up to me (im working on it) I would like to say happy trails to C-Mac, up Barry B. to the Ottawa Sens bench, and rock a Lehner-Brodeur tandem in Bingo. So what I’m saying is…good luck in future endeavors, playboy.
Pascal Leclaire F infinity Can you believe that we had a team with Pascal Leclaire AND Jonathan Cheechoo on it at the same time? I wonder if the Sens have hired a Priest to perform exorcisms on Scotia Bank Place over the summer. Whew boy, The Ballad of Pascal Leclaire. Probably my least favorite move (next to not re-upping Volchy Bear) was the signing of a very, very injured Pascal Leclaire. There was dreamy optimism to be found in the guy’s pedigree and man did we see flashes of what could have been. And by Flash I mean, to cherry pick from Webster’s dictionary,

 

“Flash, 6: To change suddenly or violently into vapor”

Or

“Flash, 8.4b: To coat as glass with a thin layer (as of metal or a differently coloured glass)”

 

Webster you so cray-zay! Is anyone still reading at this point? Whatever, I need this. Injuries in all the wrong places for a goaltender, this guy has. I hate to say this but I honestly wonder if his playing days are over. I hope the power of Ray Emery compels this guy to recovery. Maybe he needs a solid year off to properly heal and rehab like Emery did He seems like a good dude and you can see beneath all those problems there’s a great goalie under there. Get like…infinitely well soon.

Real talk: From a fan perspective, I am sooooooooo happy to have moved on from living in starting goalie purgatory. Oy vey. Even putting injuries aside, I will remember healthy Leclaire as the goalie who could make like 60 amazing saves AND STILL not steal the game. I know that is super harsh, but it’s true. Even at the beginning this season (which I don’t know if you noticed…but…NOT the best season) when Leclaire did play a few games, the consensus would be “LeClaire: Best Player On the Ice, Makes 50 Saves in 5-2 Sens Loss.” Hmmm..okay, so that’s awesome? Peace homie its been incredibly frustrating for all.

Robin Lehner C+ I think we can all agree that Robin Drago is fucking hillarierrifying? I think it was actually great in the long run that Robby’s (he would probably strangle me to death with his mind if I called him that) first foray into the NHL was less than stellar. If he was all aces, things would have gotten ever the more complex for the organization in net. I think this is a kid who has had a ton of success his whole life and could use a little adversity up in this peace. The raw talent is evident. Dude can play for real. You forget that he is in grade 10 when he’s on the ice. BUT what’s also evident is that he has a lot of work ahead of him. Just by looking at his records, he has work to do at the AHL level too. It’s no secret that goalies typically require a couple of years to develop. Robin has barely played at the AHL level and his NHL experience is only due to some very desperate times. I think it was a really smart move to put Andy in place for the foreseeable future and show Robin that he has a tall mountain to climb before he is HUNTING ANDERSON LIKE GAME (quote of the year?) for the starting job. I look forward to him being the new less intentionally hilarious Jeremy Roenick and somehow crazier Ron Hextall a couple seasons.  
Mike Brodeur Whatev + Oh how the mighty have fallen. I think in the goalie go round of 2010-11 expectations for this dude crashed the eff back down to earth huh? Been a rough go for Baby Bro this year. Battling injury and demotion to the ECHL Ticonderoga Bladerunners or whatever, Mike saw time in 3 leagues. Safe to say, for the casual fan his performance was hard to track. IM NOT MADE OF HAVING ANOTHER WINDOW OPEN TO CHECK HIS STATS. Anyway, as mentioned earlier, would love to see this guy in a tandem with Lehner for Bingo next season. 

7 thoughts on “Live from Armchair! James Issues 2010-2011 Report Cards

  1. Most hilarious season review ever!

    «When Leclaire did play a few games, the consensus would be “LeClaire: Best Player On the Ice, Makes 50 Saves in 5-2 Sens Loss.” Hmmm..okay, so that’s awesome?»

    LOLLL!!!!!

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  3. “I think it was a really smart move to put Andy in place for the foreseeable future and show Robin that he has a tall mountain to climb before he is HUNTING ANDERSON LIKE GAME (quote of the year?) for the starting job. I look forward to him being the new less intentionally hilarious Jeremy Roenick and somehow crazier Ron Hextall a couple seasons.”

    This. Awesome.

  4. Just a few points:

    Jason Spezza has in fact giggled a few times in interviews, notably when talking about Butler scoring goals.
    The PK…players usually do that early on in their career. Isn’t it a strike against Jason that it took him almost 10 years before he did it?
    Leadership…how hard is it to lead when there isn’t any pressure or expectations?
    Spezza…I think an apt comparison to him is Pierre Turgeon, hear me out.
    Turgeon was an electrifying, tremendously skilled player in Buffalo, NYI, Montreal (other teams) getting 90-100 points a season. in Montreal they gave him the “C” and…well that didn’t go so well.
    Sometimes, your best point producer isn’t suited to be your captain. Fans have been used to Alfredsson grinding it out through injury, leading the team to the Cup finals and generally keeping it “down low” and not making an ass of himself. Can Spezza do the same? Doubtful.

    In the end, Spezza is going to have to get it done in the post-season. He’ll need that defining moment like Pat LaFontaine in the Easter game, or Alfredsson in that series against Pittsburgh where he came out of the scrum with his sweater off, or…just something clutch.

    We’re stuck with Spezza, but hopefully he does something worth talking about (IE winning in playoffs) while he pads his stats.

    I’d also rate Karlsson a “C”, he turns over the puck to attacking forwards and shies away from hits (given and received). Michalek a “C” as well, too many nights he has been invisible. Alfie a B, didn’t produce points for the longest stretch.

    Good, funny review but not as savage and merciless as it could have been.

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