Roundtable of Death: Round Deuce Edition

Nosaj Spezza


Okee doke: so how do we beat the Pens?

Before their series against the Islanders closed out, my hope was that if Ottawa was going to meet Pittsburg we’d benefit from a Fleury meltdown and be able to steal a game or two. Unfortunately for us, that meltdown came early, the Islanders got to steal those games, and the Pens were able to turn to Vokoun–which is exactly why they signed him. They never had a 1B option when they had their meltdown against the Flyers. Now they’ve made the switch, and things are humming.
Still, it seems to me that Ottawa’s best chance is to learn from what the Islanders did, and what the Flyers did last year, and try to get under the Pens’ skin. It worked against what should have been a more skilled team in Montreal. Ottawa’s advantage is that they have a very good penalty kill–they can play with an edge, pay the price in the box, and probably come out of it unscathed. In the long run maybe you throw a few of their bigger pieces off their game.
The problems are that they aren’t going to get into Byslma’s head the way they did with Therrien; there’s isn’t a destabilizing force like PK Subban on that roster; Vokoun is playing better than Price did, even if Price has the higher ceiling; and that defence is big enough to keep Ottawa players outside of the greasy goal area where they pay their bills.
In short: get ready for a lot of previews that say “if Anderson plays out of his mind…but probably Penguins in six.” This series is going to be an all out war, and it will probably be Ottawa escalating it there. That’s their best chance of winning.
What say you?JAMES SAYS: 

*Super cool turntable scratching* Hey now youre a cool guy it’s the playoffs get paiiiiiiiid (we get paid so much $$$$$$$$$$ to write this!)

Well, the big bad Pengus are coming to town SOON! At the time of this writing tickets are going on sale in 32 minutes and there’s no schedule up on the team’s official website. IT’S A VERY ORGANIZED TIME TO BE ALIVE!

Okay, I’d like to preface this, as I always do, by taking an impressive leather bound book off of this custom built mahogany shelf and opening it to the case of The People vs. Horse Races. Pretty much every pundit is going to pick the Penguins to take this one because ‘nem Penjins b more better.’ Okay, awesome. A couple of weeks ago I heard some hockey analysts discussing if Toronto would manage to steal even one win from stalwart Boston and despite being stomped in a couple of games it’s anyone’s series with the Bruins looking like the ones on their heels. Now, admittedly, I don’t like Toronto, a little too “I hate everything about them” for my taste, but I must say, that match up is as cut and dried on paper as Ottawa-Pittsburgh, and when you compare paper to reality I don’t know why the New York Rangers don’t win the Stanley Cup every year. All that stuff said, if Ottawa were the underdogs last series they are some sort of undersloth this time around.

The last series was quite helpful to Ottawa in that the plucky Islanders exposed the speed issues that Pittsburgh has as a team. Especially now with Latendresse riding the pine, speed is not something that Ottawa lacks themselves. It’s rough to see Weapon X Erik Karlsson operating at “normal” speed but there still things about his game that remain strong like, I don’t know, his ability to deke out an entire fucking team or his patience and ability to hang onto the puck. To me this series is going to fall largely on the shoulders of the youthful exuberance: the Zibanejads, Silfverbergs Pageaus and Conachers. Tall order (sorry Cory, JGP) for a bunch of rookies, you bet, but with Pittsburgh clocking in as the NHL’s oldest team (29.5 avg. age) and Ottawa the youngest (avg. age 26) it would be foolish not to think that MacLean will be using sprightliness as a strategy. If you have wheels, use them.

While on the subject of age, it will also be on Ottawa to make this a very, very grueling experience for The Old Man Iginalas of the world. Ottawa has the tools to punish in Neil, Smith, Cowen, Gryba, Methot and for the love of god I hope Greening. Even Phillips is a pretty tough customer when it’s post season time. The greatest challenge of course is that Pittsburgh boasts some of the world’s most talented forwards…which is uhh nice for them.

This series will, as every hockey game ever has, come down to goaltending.

I feel it important to point out that the Islanders did not exactly get world class goaltending in their series. Evgeni Nabokov (the Alexei Kovalev of goaltenders if you ask me) gave up a putrid 24 goals in 6 games. I’m very much hoping we get a little bit better of a performance from Craig Anderson. Also, speaking of goaltending, I would like you to please put on your rant proof goggles now:

Why u heff be mad is just Tomas Vokoun! I love how going into the series the storyline as you mentioned above is all, “Oh no how will we survive now that Pittsburgh’s #1 overall pick, Stanley Cup winning, Olympic Gold Medalist, former all star goaltender has been benched and we have to face Mighty Tomas Vokoun! He who was the Washington Capitals 3rd string goalie LAST YEAR and was acquired for a seventh round draft pick! He who previous to this series rocked a 3 and 8 playoff record on the defense-first Predators. Am I the only one who forgot this guy was even in the NHL when Pittsburgh traded for him last year?

Goaltenders being the strange beasts they are I must admit, there’s nothing to say Vokoun isn’t capable of Jaroslav Halaking them to the promised land. It could happen. Pittsburgh is playing better in front of him. It just seems funny to me that not even a week after watching a team that “has trouble scoring” positively break Carey Price and then capable backup Peter Budaj’s respective spirits I’m not going act like Pittsburgh’s goaltending problems are in the past because Vokoun beat the Islanders twice.

What do you think shitty Jerry Seinfeld joke-device?
“What is the deal with Jason Spezza?” *canned laughter* *canned throwing a chair at my head*

One minute you have MacLean saying “He still a long way(s) away” the next you go on the Sens website and the top story is “SPEZZA PRACTICES!!!” What’s a girl to do? Spezza is a whole mess of questions. The most obvious is, “How ready is he?” Others include, “Even if 100% healthy can he just step in and play playoff level hockey after not playing since January?” or “If Spezza comes back this team suddenly has a ton of talented centres…who moves where?” Seems like the more we know the less we know with this here caper. Only one way to get to the bottom of it.

You know how I’m hesitant to compare myself to world class athletes? Okay, well I am, and I have to say, as a person who just had a minor, minor back injury himself and spent the better part of a fucking week getting back to a place where I couldn’t get myself a granola bar without a ten-point strategy plan, I will say that 1) my empathy meter is off the charts for Spezz, and 2) a back injury is not the kind of thing that you can play through. It’s not the most horrific of injuries–it’s no “stick in the eyeball” or “blade through the achilles heel” that are so much the rage these days–but when you think about it…it’s your fucking back. That thing is like 45% of your body, and it holds you upright. You don’t know how much you depend on it to do everything until you have an injury. I wish I had filmed myself trying to put on socks this morning. It would be the saddest, funniest, then saddest 45 minute long Youtube video in the world.

All that to say that I’ll believe Spezza(‘s back) is back when I see it. Dudes in the NHL are usually, what, about 200lbs? And they tend to lean on you a bit. While skating pretty hard. The guy had back surgery. I don’t want to get into a Hasek-like arrangement where all 1.2 million people in the Ottawa Valley start reducing health care to the question of whether or not player X is being a wuss.
I’ve gotta ask: what do you think about MacLean’s magical mystery tour of lineup decisions in the last round? Scratching Concher for Matt Kassian; playing Benoit over Wiercioch; benching Latty; confining Jim O’Brien to one of those spinning mirrors from the Superman movies. So far his bag-of-acid methodology seems to be working (see: “you’ve had a terrible game, Conacher – get in there!” resulting in scoring the tying goal with 26 seconds left). But at some point you have to ask just what the hell if going on, right?


Yeah, it’s weird. I heard Shawn Simpson talk about this stuff the other week on that local series of ads with the occasional radio show on it. He said, fans will always be bewildered by coaching decisions because you’ll never know how that team works behind the scenes unless you’re on it. Case in point I suppose would be, how are you gunna bench Latendresse indefinitely against his former team and not even give him 4th line minutes for a guy who is SOMEHOW ACTUALLY SLOWER THAN HIM?!?!? Then at the end of the day, Kassian 2 assists in the deciding game. I don’t get ranty again here but Gui is going to head into this off season as the Street Cred Peter Regin like, “Yeah, my coach didn’t feel I had enough fire against my former team in the playoffs and benched me for a goon who ended up having more points than me….anyway, I would like to talk to you about what I bring to your team for the price of $2,000,000 per season!”
Just to build on what you’re saying about Spezza…yeah, the last thing in the world I’d ever want is for him to be rushed. Maybe it’s just a media circus but seeing the Sens organization hype it up too was interesting. Considering he’d be playing up against Malkin or Crosby there’s not going to be a lot of wiggle room for him to “feel it out.” I have to admit I’m very confused about the whole thing…which I’m guessing is the point.

On one hand, guy just started skating with the team a couple of days ago but on the other the scenario is very similar to the Karlsson one we saw. He went from “unable to do any workouts standing up” to leading the team stretches and playing in a little over a week. The only thing keeping me from being super nervous about this whole thing is that Spezza had his surgery 4 and a half months ago and that does seem like a good while to recover (source Dr. Mario, Scientologist). I find Spezza to be a player where you can really tell when he’s playing hurt (which is often). Last example of such a time was I believe in a playoff against the Pens when he just couldnt match Crosby and was booed by a small but audible habs fan-esque contingent at SBP. We need this guy and I dont want to give idiots, nor Pittsburgh for that matter, ammo if he’s not ready to go.

1 thought on “Roundtable of Death: Round Deuce Edition

  1. Pingback: Senators News: May 13th | eyeonthesens

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