04.10.2010: In which James becomes the Ted Kazynsky of hockey blogging

James to Pete, Conrad

The 2010-2010 Preview in Review.

Ahhh the smell of preseason (Axe Cooling Gel?). A chance for the National Hockey League’s bright young prospects and future stars to shine, future busts to shine and then later NOT shine, olde tymey vets to play like they are avoiding potential injury and then get criticized for it, and for players whose roster spots are secure to shake off the rust and have runs taken at them and be injured by the goons of tomorrow.

I suppose that point #1 is that preseason was a little too long for my liking. I personally don’t like the idea of putting our vets out there, in back-to-back games in some cases, with the future Steve Downey’s of the world in “Durr, hey coach, watch me! Ima do dis killing!” mode. Not when we have a bunch of guys North of 33 on our roster. It’s not just about putting the Old Uncle Pennybagses of the team at risk, in fact those guys were smartly underplayed, buts it’s more the Fisher’s getting drilled head first into the boards that worries me. It’s the pressure of icing a good lineup for a home game with runs being taken a plenty. It’s not just about Sens like Neil taking a stick blade to the taint, it’s anyone really. How about Cammelleri getting headhunted? So pissed was the feisty-but-typically-gentlemanly Cam, he went straight two hander Bobby Clarke to the ankles of Neiderrider. Bad Craziness. Hockey’s an intense sport where fights in a chippy practice between teammates are common and you are literally allowed to punch a guy in the face as many times as you can before your or his knee touches the ice…but…this preseason just seemed plain risky after a while. Thoughts?

On a related note: Overall, it was a bit of a myth that there were roster spots open this year but with the GDP of Equatorial Guinea coming off the books next year and the showing of many up and comers last month I look forward to the future.

Today, I’m going to put myself out there and admit I straddled a stiff upper lip “who cares these games are meaningless” view and a “holy shit I cant ignore how terrible Leclaire looks tonight” sky is falling attitude.

So what, if anything, did we take out of the preseason? A few points after the jump (WINK, Conrad ….I don’t know what I’m doing)

Some fellas had a really strong showing of the underreported kind. I know it seems old hat but I think Winchester, Zmith, Carkner, Campoli, Kelly, Neil, Ruutu, and Hale were shining/very solid in their respective ways in the exhibitions. Though Zmith is still a little new to the league he fit in with the rest of these guys who really looked a level above the prospects out there. The first game against the leafs, for example, Winchester looked faster, smoother, smarter and more confident than the guys trying to earn a spot. Which is what you want from a guy who’s had a spot on the team in the past. So that was happy. The guys who shouldn’t look out of place didn’t.

Alex Kovalev got in a fight, blocked a shot on the PK and got all up in the blue paint for a tying goal. I can get used to contract-year Kovalev.

Point above notwithstanding, all guys on the team over the age of 34 get a total preseason pass. I was wincing when Gonchar would dive to retrieve a loose puck and not sweating it when he looked a little half-cocked at times. Save it for the real season.

Preamble to next point: Since composite sticks were introduced a few years ago and even Cal Clutterbuck suddenly has a 90mph wrister, being a “consistent starter” has become a plague on netminders almost league wide. This is further magnified by the cap. If you’re good you cant expect too much money and if you’re cheap too much is expected. We are undoubtedly Ottawa-centric in our goalie woes. There are very few teams that feel they have a Ryan Miller type wall on their roster. Thomas is riding the pine, Luongo is on the hot seat, Khabibulin is Earnest goes to jail, Backstrom, Quick, Hiller, Price, infinity, are up and down…I get it. I get it. I get it. Being a goalie is hard. So hard. Also, Women be shoppin’.

Point: All this in mind, our goalie tandem was still scaring the SHIT out of me. Trust me I am thinking about all that stuff I just said when I’m watching these games because Elliot and Leclaire are looking like they did last year. Without a 10 game win streak to cushion the blow (DAMN YOU THE HOCKEY NEWS PREDICTION!!!). One is letting in the odd spirit-breaking beach ball and the other is wildly out of position and jumpy…and almost got injured one game. I don’t know the answers here. Ill leave it up to the pros (you know, b/c I have choice in these matters) but it’s funny to hear Lehner is not ready because he mishandled a puck behind the net and got scored on when our supposed starters are doing the same type of shit but letting in more goals in the process. I’m not saying bring up Lehner I’m saying “Bros, a 19 year old is making your look like crud out there.” Also “AAAACK” – Cathy

Lets all just chill and let Cowen go back down the W. He’s going there. He’s gone. Not on the Sens this year. Silver lining: He’s 19 years old. It’s gunna be awesome when he maxes out to 7ft, 300lbs on his 21st bday.

Foligno is looking ready to bite someone’s arm off out there.

Mega Impressed with Spezza’s poise. Add him to my fantasy team impressed.

My computer has run out of words. Whatever, theres no hockey till Friday might as well make a post that takes a week to read.

Conrad to James, Peter

I agree with the following:

Preseason is way too long. I also think the regular season is too long, so there’s that for what it’s worth. I could do with about twenty games shaved off overall, but with the league in the hands of Bettman (AKA no TV deal and so remaining gate-driven) we’ll soon be baseball and I’ll just shut the hell up now. Can’t wait for back-to-back double-headers where if you go out of town for a weekend you miss a 27-point shift in the standings.

Zack Smith looks great. He pretty emphatically defended his roster spot, I gotta say. Perfect balance of agitation, speed, and a salt shaker worth of skill.

Our goaltending looks really bad. It just does. Mistakes playing the puck, soft goals, Leclaire sprawled out on the ground about 9 feet out of his net. Benefit of the doubt is benefit of the doubt, but a good start to the season (or at least .500 hockey) is essential. These two guys aren’t stealing any games on their own. If the Sens come out of the gate like 2-8 or something then yeah, we’ll see Lehner. Too bad Theodore got picked up by the Wild. I wouldn’t have minded tossing him $500k and telling him to prove his worth to the world. Anyway, Leclaire is making $4M plus, and you don’t pay that much for anyone without playing the hell out of him (note: all logic in relation to this point removed for Glen Sather, he of making Redden the highest paid AHL player in league history. $80k+ PER GAME!). We’ll live and die by Leclaire. I miss you, Volchenkov.

Spezza being primed for a good season. I hope so, at least. If he doesn’t short circuit once he becomes the focus because our top line isn’t Neil – Kelly – Ruutu anymore.

I do not agree with the following:

Winchester looking good. He looks okay, I guess, and I know preseason is all about giving your fourth liners first line minutes to see if they learned how to dominate over the summer months, but I would rather any number of players over Winchester right now. (You know I mean Bobby Beeeeee. But also Hoffman.) Serviceable utility player. But we’ve got Kelly. (Who learned how to score!)

I add:

Ryan Shannon is a tiny, tiny man who is very easy to knocked off the puck and who takes hooking penalties because he can’t do anything because he’s a tiny, tiny man. His career is juuuuuuuuust about done.

Lambert called Ottawa the worst Canadian team again. I think he did this last year. Worse than Edmonton. Worse than Toronto. Worse than Calgary. Worse than Montreal. All of whom they finished much higher than in the standings last year. That is all I have to say, I guess. I know that’s Lambert’s thing, and I admit that I enjoy the smarm when he’s bein’ a douch to every other team, so I’ll take the shellacking and hope my Sens prove him wrong about them for about the 90th time.

James to Conrad, Peter

I feel you, Wooly. Good enough point on Theodore but dude is basically a bit of Pascal Leclaire with a Hart trophy. The crazy record with Washington is undeniable but dude is basically banned from playing in the post season. I just want our pinnochio to become a real boy. So bad. Jose’s price is very good…but I think there’s a reason. $4M is totally insane for Leclaire though. Fuck. Seemed like a good idea at the time…I think? (Blinders? Blinders.) I still don’t miss Martin Gerber (just put on waivers by ED-MON-TON…and their goalie’s going to be cell mates with Lil Wayne for corn sakes!)

Wtvr, I’m not about to say anything that hasn’t been said a million times about our goaltending…Instead I submit a picture of the dayish carrying on with my Mortal Kombat Fatality theme.

Peter to James, Conrad

I thought Nick Foligno was the best Senator during a long, drawn out and nearly pointless preseason.

Four games max, seems the right length for me. I’m sure if you asked any coach, especially one with 95 % of the roster already set, they wouldn’t give two Harry Neales for two weeks of preseason action. Seems like a headshot or a Cammaleri meltdown waiting to happen.

Golatending seems like the easy item, topping all the preseason “issues” issues. I’d like to hear Nick Kypreos’ take on the situation… on second thought I’d rather give myself a colonoscopy instead. Seriously, can this blog adopt more of a “fuck that guy” attitutde? I have three friends and I damn well didn’t start a blog to make more. This Lambert guy can choke on dong for all I care, he probably only knows slightly more about hockey, and a lot more about blackheads, than I do.

I’m sorry to simplify your arguments and yes our tenders have been bad, but more organized play in front of said individual would go a looooong way. Not fair to pin hopes on one person between the pipes. There are many goaltenders out there that are made much more attractive by the skaters in front of them.

The CCFR, your first and last stop for “fuck that guy” info.

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