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NFL CANADA


What's wrong with the Senators?
Sat, February 7, 2009

By CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

Jason Spezza figures it's time for a change.

After scoring on three of his first four opportunities in the shootout earlier this season, the Senators centre has missed his last two attempts, including a shot into the glove of Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas in Thursday night's 4-3 loss.

"Players only have so many moves in their toolbox and I think the (scoring) percentages are going down," said Spezza. "You've got to have a couple of moves in your arsenal and change it up."

Sens shootout woes grow



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As we draw closer to the draft and free agency it's become crystal clear that, if the Sens look to be a serious threat for a cup run next season they are going to have to find some way to shed about $7 million.

The most obvious options - players like Ruutu and Auld (and maybe Picard) - would free up around $3 mil, but while these three would probably be no problem to deal, I'm not sure they are the right choices.

The ideal trades would involve the likes of the overpaid Kelly and the over-the-hill Smith, and the confused D/forward Schubert, whose departure would suddenly add just over $5.5 million to Murray's shopping funds.

Unfortunately, I think most other teams - if not all - see them the same way which makes them virtually untradeable (along with Fisher whose contract alone makes him impossible to deal - even if he didn't have a no-trade contract).

Of course, the same thing could be achieved if Melnyk went along with having them sent to Binghamton where he'd still have to pay them those bloated salaries but not have the money apply against his cap. But don't hold your breath Sens fans. That will never happen and, as a consequence, Murray won't be able to acquire the puck-moving D he still needs (neither Campoli nor the young Karlssen are the answers to that puzzle), not to mention the 2nd line offensive threat he says is needed.

Everyone's favourite whipping boy, Spezza, can still technically be dealt until some time in July, I believe, but what woukd that accomplish really? They'd still need a 1st line Centre in that eventuality. Spezza (or Heatly if he waived his no-trade) would sure give them added funds to shop, but the holes they'd leave behind would be almost impossible to fill in the near future, meaning they'd struggle again. Then again, another season at a low finish would add yet another good draft pick, although I doubt Melnyk would be pleased at Murray if they missed the playoffs for a 2nd straight year.

So, what he'll do is tinker just enough to get them into 7th or 8th and satisfy the wolves at the door. But forget about being a serious contender.


Gary O., 2009-05-14 15:24:43

For all the criticism of their goaltending and DS, the Sens only have three teams in the East ahead of them in terms of goals allowed as of March 10: Boston (157), NJ (164) and NYR (183) and their 188 ties them with Pha and Buffalo.
Gary O., 2009-03-10 23:31:38

Nice economical addition, but didn't Comrie look like a kid in the finals with the Sens...much like Ottawa looked thurs against Vancover?...They need size on that team!!
wayne, 2009-02-20 23:34:41

Jon, you recently onserved "Now I understand that most arenas aren't always loud throughout (unless you go to Montreal...great atmosphere there I must admit) ..."

I imagine that, unless the Habs turn things around fast on this current road trip, it'll be loud there all right - but for all the wrong reasons.

Les Canadiens are beinning to look eerily like the Sens of last season - the second half Sens that is, as they continue their free-fall. Right out of the playoffs???
Gary O., 2009-02-12 12:17:01

Umm - knock, knock Walter Picavet. Anyone home? I'm no fan of Murray as a GM, and Lord knows he's made many more serious gaffs than the one you mention re Emery. Such as sitting with his thumb up his ass during last year's UFA frency while waiting for Meszaros and Vermette and their agents to make up their minds about contract offers, instead of signing who he wanted and worry about rhe cap later (as Leapin' Lou did in Jersey).

Like signing Spezza to a hefty, long-term contract when he was coming up for RFA - NOT UFA - status. Why? He should have made him a decent offer in the $4 to $4.5 million range and say here it is, take it or leave it. If some team then jumped in and made him an offer sheet for the $7 mil he got, Ottawa could have said sayonara and gone with the 5 1st round picks they'd have receuived as a result.

Trading away Corvo and Eaves for Stillman and Commodore - and then winding up with nothing. Those kind of moves.

But don't accuse him of the Chara move. First of all, it wasn't a trade - he left as a UFA, hours after the UFA season began which, considering the size of the contract, seems to suggest Chiarelli had been illegally in negotiation for some time - and it was under Muckler's watch that that happened - not Murray's.
Gary O., 2009-02-11 13:20:21

The down fall with the Senators was never with the coaches. It has been Spezza the whole time. Spezza is a one dimensional player. Watch him on the ice!! He will only chase after pucks that are open. When an opposing checker moves in on the puck, Spezza will wait for one of his team mates to take up the fight in the corner and he runs away waiting for the loose puck to make it to his stick. He rarely fights for a puck. The biggest mistake that the Sens ever did was to keep him and let Jacques Martin go instead.

It wasn't until the Sens let Spezza have his own way that the Sens started going down hill and Martin saw through that. Martin was wrongfully the fall guy for this whole catastrophe.

Martin who inherited a bottom feeding team has now taken his team and has put it in a playoff hunt, without the brand name players the Sens have.

Go Panthers.
Dwayne, 2009-02-10 17:43:54

It's not above the coach. The GM has to go. Murray might be a good coach but not GM material.

Look at his record:

Emery. Signed to a lucrative contract even with a lousy track record when looking at shots on goal. He had a defense in front of him.

Charo. Traded away the best out of the 2 because couldn't afford both.

Etc, etc.

Now we have another no name (in the NHL coach) just like the previous.
Walter Picavet, 2009-02-06 08:46:49

Jon, can't disagree with your observations on the crowd. But then, I've heard that that is also the case in T.O.

Like Ottawa, they respond like Pavlov's Dog to scoreboard prompting "MAKE NOIIIISE" thump-thump-boom, thump-thump-BOOM.

I recall one game I attended against the dreary Devils when the trap was all the rage and it was like watching paint dry. So, the scoreboard displayed the promp. A few rah-rah types in front of us dutifully tried to make noise, then one turned to us and asked why we weren't doing anything. My response was, when they do something worthy on the ice, I'll make noise. Not because some dweeb in the booth upstairs pressed the "make noise" button. That's like canned laughter on TV!
Gary O., 2009-02-05 13:37:37

Rick and Gary all bashing aside, I have been to a few Sens games through the years (and no the Leafs weren't always playing against them). One thing that always struck me was how quiet the arena was, sure they would cheer for a goal or a big hit but the fans seemed to have to be prompted to cheer. Now I understand that most arenas aren't always loud throughout (unless you go to Montreal...great atmosphere there I must admit) but there are long periods where you could hear a pin drop at the Bank. Now for the players I find the Neil and Fisher play their hearts out and for whatever reason the rest of the team just sits there or has the OH WELL attitude, It just baffles me. You are right by the way I at least hope that the Sens finish ahead of the Leafs as I hope T.O. gets the chance at a great pick. Anyway no hard feelings boys all the best with your team.
Jon, 2009-02-05 10:50:37

Consistent goaltending, missing of an attacking defence, missing a quality 2nd line scoring. No physicality in finishing checks especially in their own zone.

They’re not playing for each other. They don’t watch each other’s backs.


Vince in Ottawa, 2009-02-05 00:17:25

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