22.09.2010: In which the Bizarro Sens defeat the Bizarro Leafs / WIN THE CUP!!!1!!111

Conrad to James, peter
show details 9:48 AM (1 hour ago)

Last night the Alternate Universe Sens did dare to dream. They didn’t have Alfie, Spezza, Michalek, Fisher, Kovalev, Gonchar, Phillips, or Karlsson (or, obviously, Kuba. Or Leclaire, who barely counts, even in an existential sense). The Leafs were missing Kessel, Komisarek, I think Schenn, and a few others like Exelby and, I dunno, Colton Orr or Wayne Primeau or a mop with a bucket for a head or another of their marginal 4th liners.

The Sens get the shutout, despite the fact that The Leafs were awarded several too many power plays in the 2nd, including two lengthy 5-on-3s, and though I’d like to credit the Sens PK unit (which was solid) I think they benefited the most from Dion Phaneuf not being able to hit the broad side of a 747. The Pension Plan Puppets podcast talked at the end of last season about how many times Phaneuf missed the net, and last night it was apparent as he hit the third deck with alarming consistency.
 
PS, Toronto rolls an exhibition-version 5-on-3 with Kaberle – their much vaunted, “We’ll only trade him if we can have a 1st round pick and a good prospect and a roster player and you first born” puck mover – and $6M+ Phaneuf. It’s truly comical to see those two together. Kaberle, despite having a hard and accurate shot, doesn’t shoot, and Phaneuf immediately shoots but can’t hit anything. Hilarious to watch.
 
Ron Wilson on why they couldn’t score on two 5-on-3s: “We haven’t practiced 5-on-3s yet.” All those regular NHLers on their exhibition squad – and 2 former All-Stars on the points – and they still need to practice executing a 5-on-3? What would his instructions have been if they had practiced it? Hit the net? Shoot the puck? Learn to skate backwards?

The goals: it could have to do with the team being young and hungry (i.e. none of our golden oldies were out there), but the team was flying. We knew Clouston would be pushing the hard forecheck, getting speedy forwards in behind the defence, and this was no more explicitly on display than Foligno going outside on Phaneuf then short side on My Name is Jonas for the 2nd goal. Also on Hale’s goal, on a pretty pass from down low with about three Leafs converging leaving Hale wide open. Leafs had good energy, but the Sens used their speed to expose them.
 
The Robin Lehner bandwagon: I’m on board, with a straw hat and plaid and work gloves. He looked huge in the net and had two pretty glove saves. I don’t want to get hysterical, but as a longtime Sens-watcher I can say that it’s a true rarity to see a goalie buoy his team during a 5-on-3 that way. The Leafs outshot the Sens during that period 117-0, and every time it seemed like the squad was losing steam Lehner would come up with a solid save that completely deflated the Leafs. Too soon to get excited, but when Leclaire drops a jumbo size jar of mayo on his foot and breaks it later in the season I think he’ll get called up in about 0.00004 seconds.
 
Disappointments – not many in a 5-0 win, though I will say I was hoping to see Butler / Hoffman out there a whole lot more. It’s a long exhibition schedule, though, and if those two have the inside track to lock up a fourth line then Clouston may as well give the other kids a look.

And, though I hate to list a 19 year old negatively, I think some of the dream talk about Cowen has got to come down to earth. He looked slow out there relative to his teammates, and despite his size was having trouble clearing the crease. He needs to play with more of an edge. If he continues to play downtempo then I don’t think he should even get the 9 game look before the team has to burn a year on his ELC. He needs more conditioning in the minors. There are others who might be more deserving of that long look.

Finally, Brian Lee. I feel like when we say the words “Brian” and “Lee” it should just be that foghorn sound. “Maaaa-maaaaaa”. He’s invisible out there. And not in a “I didn’t notice him but the stat sheet says 2 assists, what the hell” Lidstrom sort of way. It’s like he didn’t even play. I guess it’s the same old story – he’s not terrible, and I won’t lose any sleep knowing that he’ll probably be the 7th defenceman, but he’s nowhere near the impact player Muckler thought he was seeing as he groped around for his glasses.

Lastly, Versteeg flipped Lehner’s shutout puck into the stands after the game, so I guess he’s fitting in on Toronto’s good-at-truculence / bad-at-most-other-things hockey team.

James to me, peter
show details 10:47 AM (27 minutes ago)

Looking at the lineups yesterday I was more excited about getting a look at some of the youngsters playing than getting a W. Lowered expectations seemed to be the way to go. After all, according to Leafs fans this morning: no one tries in the preseason. Which is a good point…why would your newly minted captain try on his home ice debut with the C?

Before I go on, Conrad stop me if you’ve heard this one before (Note: you HAVE!), Word to Jason Spezza: Don’t like getting booed on a bad giveaway in a crucial playoff game? How about Phaneuf getting booed on the FIRST GOAL OF THE PRESEASON – which according to the Leafs nation doesn’t matter at all when they lose.

Oh right the Sens! One of the most important elements of last night’s game (and it is only one preseason game – right leafs na- alright I’ll cool out) was Matt Carkner looking solid in his role. Esp on the PK! Given our crew of talented Dandy Fops on the blueline there is a lot riding on him to take the pressure off of Phillips, who turns 52 today. Keep it up Carks.

Cowen had far from an amazing game but I mean considering he is going into grade 10 this year I think its OKAY that he might not make the team. I don’t think going back to junior is the total waste that everyone’s making it out to be either. He plays in the NHL or the WHL, theres no option with age (best rule EVER!!!) so like Gandhi said “If he aint NHL fit…you must acquit”. Dude is coming off major knee surgery. Let him live out his teens a little bit. They can’t all be Karlssons.

It was a big game for Foligno and homeboy delivered. I truly believe the guy is hungry as hell this year after last season. A great effort last night.

Lehner. Simply spectacular. I don’t know if he had practiced his goaltending for 5 on 3 kills yet (zing ZANG, R.W.) but no one can front that it is a goalie’s worst nightmare – so good on holding the fort! The great Ottawa goaltending question is: can this guy do this a few times? (Also of note Lehner’s Bar mitzvah is this Saturday so lets remember he has plenty of time for to hone his craft). He is garnering a reputation for having a tireless work ethic in practice and his goalie coach dad has the sword of Damocles dangling above his pet turtle’s head so…that’s happy.

Now, if the Leafs are anything they are unpredictable. Par example, they finished in more or less worst place last season but basically owned the shit out of the Sens all year…If Ron Wilson is as big of a dickhead as I think he is …dramatic pause…I’m sure we’ll see a better effort from the team tonight. It’s a long ass season of dizzying highs, crushing lows and delicious creamy centers. Enjoy this ray of sun, and like Rick Bowness in that legendary 1st season: “Dare to Dream” (Copyright Jason “Zoolander” Spezza)

peter to me, James
show details 11:48 AM (8 minutes ago)

Going to try and avoid hysterics (breaths into paper bag). I always get a chub on for when the Sens pound on the Leafs so last night was mucho satisfying. Though to be realistic, lets look at some facts.

1. That was a sloppy shitfest of a game, nowhere near the precision most NHL games display. Not surprising at all with Ottawa’s top 7 not dressed and Toronto’s top 4 on the ice (zing!)

2. Matt Carkner led the Sens in ice time… so right there I’m discounting any results.

3. Lehner was good and displayed good rebound control, I was impressed with his poise. (Just like Miss America, poise counts!)

4. Roman Wick, Bobby Butler and Corey Locke had the lowest amount of ice time amongst the forwards. Who was second star of the game? Locke. I was really impressed with his play and one day I hope he becomes a fob (friend of the blog)

5. Brian Lee got in a fight and while he was on the ground and helmetless had his head forcibly smashed into the ice. If that were a regular season game and a more highly regarded player, Rosehill would be looking at a suspension. Again the NHL and its notion of discipline scares me.

6. You two dudes spent all summer hyping Peter Regin and no mention of him not playing? I thought he should have been in the lineup. I’m fearing a sense of entitlement creeping in here.

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