February 28, 2006
Billy Thompson was recalled by the Senators. I was hoping Thompson would be called ahead of Kelly Guard, not because Thompson is playing better (which he isn’t), but because I hope a visit to the NHL will improve his game. Thompson has actually played better in the last week, but he is still not back to the form we saw last season. I doubt that he’ll actually see any game time while he’s in Ottawa, but just practicing with the team and working with the coaching staff should help improve his level of play.
This is Thompson’s first callup to the NHL, but it should seem familiar to him since he played with half the Senators players last season in Bingo. I expect he’ll get a warm reception and this move will build his confidence. If Hasek ends up being out for a longer period of time there is still the chance that Ottawa will make a deal for a legitimate NHL goalie such as Curtis Joseph. I also would not be surprised if Kelly Guard gets a callup so that Thompson can get some playing time while Guard gets a well earned chance to practice with the NHL club.
If you have NHL Center Ice, make sure you tune in to some of the games this week. The Senators first two games will be March 1st and 2nd against Pittsburgh and Washington. Will Emery start back to back games? He did that in the past with Binghamton, but he hasn’t had much playing time this season. Will Thompson make his NHL debut and face Ovechkin?
The biggest game to watch will be Saturday night when Ottawa faces Toronto for the latest battle of Ontario. Assuming Hasek is still injured, this will be Emery’s first game against the Leafs. I fully expect Domi and Tucker to make runs at Emery to try and get under his skin. I would love nothing more than to see the Sens take another big lead and Emery beat the crap out of someone in blue, but the more likely scenario is that he will be on a tight leash because the Sens can’t afford to lose two goalies to injuries. Hopefully his buddy McGratton will be dressed for the game and will have a chance to give Domi another nose job.
February 28, 2006
February 28, 2006
Last Christmas we were trying to think of neat present ideas for our two year old while we surfing Amazon. My wife got the brilliant idea of looking of childrens hockey books! We found a couple and decided to try them out.
The Magic Hockey Stick is not only a great hockey story, but a great children’s book overall. The story is about a little girl who loves hockey, especially the Rangers and Wayne Gretzky. The girls parents receive an invitation to one of the NY City sports charity auctions and decide to go. Her mom accidentally bids on Wayne Gretzky’s stick and the fun begins. The little girl starts sneaking the stick to her hockey games and scores a hat trick! Meanwhile Gretzky is in “the worst of all slumps”.
The writing is superb and fun to read and the drawings are great with lots of little details. My son loves this book and it is one of the few books that I don’t mind reading night after night. If you’re looking for a gift for a little rink rat then this is a great choice.
February 27, 2006
February 26, 2006
I previously wrote about how I dislike using NHL athletes for the Olympics. When team USA played Sweden last weekend I found myself rooting for Sweden because I can’t stand Rick DePietro (an Islander) and love Henrik Lundqvist (a Ranger). It is sad to say, but I think I was more enthusiastic about this game then I would have been if it was USA vs Canada.
Regardless, it turned out to be a great game. I think the NHL really missed the boat when they allowed NHL arenas to be built using the current dimensions back in the 90s. Using the old NHL rules, but on a larger ice surface works. Still plenty of good checking, but tons of room to setup huge shots.
Lundqvist played a solid game, but Henke really won the game in the third period. He had a lot of help from his teammates blocking shots. Those Swedes put on a defensive clinic that Jed Ortmeyer would approve of.
I’m sure the NHL will send players again in 2010 when the games will be held in Vancouver. No jet lag and the games will be held in hockey’s birthland. Team Canada will be under huge pressure to score a freaking goal after they were shutout three times in this Olympics and anything less than an appearance in the gold medal game will be unacceptable. After that I have a feeling that we’ll see amateurs in 2014.
February 26, 2006
The Senators had their best start in weeks last night and everyone came out ready to play. Unfortunately so did the AHL rookie goalie they were peppering shots at. Jaroslav Halak stole the show by the stopping 38 of 40 B-Sens shots and 3 of 4 shootout attempts. Despite the loss the Sens need to use this as a game to build on. For the first time since their plummet into last place they started strong and showed hustle and puck control in all three periods. Billy Thompson was sharp in net and his teammates did an excellent shop helping out when things got a little chaotic at times.
The best part of this game is that they won over the fans again. On the drive to the game I commented to my wife how the fans were slowly becoming fed up with the team and how tonight could get ugly if the B-Sens played the same way they had the previous night. Fortunately that was not the case as they came out hustling and HITTING. Jan Platil was back in the lineup and he made up for lost time with several great hits and he was obviously getting under the skin on the Bulldogs players. Unfortunately, Lance Ward was still in the lineup. Ward is the Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde of this team. At times he plays strong defense and uses his size to rush the puck and create scoring opportunities. At other times, like last night he nearly puts the puck in his own net on a clearing attempt, turns over the puck in front of his own net, and constantly passes the puck behind shooters on the power play.
The Senators season is quickly fading, but I’m hoping we will see more games like last nights and they will battle to get back to .500. There was improved play up and down the roster (well, except Ward). Martins is out of the doghouse. Bois continued his strong play. Filip Novak played one of his best games of the season and had numerous great scoring chances robbed by Halak.
The new inductee to the dog house has to be none other than Lance Ward. He has given the fans just too many reasons to cringe whenever he touches the puck, yet Coach Dave Cameron gives him tons of ice time. It is past time for Ward to step up and earn what he has been given.
Notes: Bad news in the paper today when they reported Neil Komadoski is done for the season after tearing his labrum and fracturing his shoulder socket in Wednesdays game in Philly. His contract expires after this year so we may have seen his last game in a Sens jersey. Keep your eyes on the waiver wire for the Sens to either call someone up or sign someone to fill his roster spot.
Most of the Bull Dogs players went out of their way to give fans high fives as they exited the locker room between periods, especially goalie Olivier Michaud.
Trade bait? With the NHL trade deadline looming and Hasek hurt I’m going to be keeping an eye on the rumor mills. Ottawa doesn’t have much to offer in Binghamton. I’d love to see them move Ward, but Novak would attract more attention. I’m sure Eaves will attract a lot of interest, but I’m sure the Sens are unwilling to part with him. If a deal is made, my money says Bochenski is the one to go.
February 26, 2006
February 25, 2006
In a losing season it is easy to place blame on the head coach. This year one of the B-Sens biggest problems has been taking too many penalties so the finger of blame has been going to the players themselves who have not adjusted to the new rules and are not hustling enough to play the body instead of using their sticks. On Wednesday night Jan Platil added 2 minutes to his holding penalty by jawing at the ref and the Phantoms scored on the power play to tie the game 2-2 early in the third. Head Coach Dave Cameron decided to make a statement and benched Platil for last nights game against the Marlies.
I understand and approve of benching players inorder to get results out of your team, but my problem with this was who he benched. Yes, Platil was the latest to take a stupid penalty that hurt the team, but he had also just missed two games from a suspension so the team was accustomed to him being in the stands. If Cameron wanted to make a really big impression on his players, bench NHL veteran Lance Ward who is leading the league in minor penalties and is wearing an A on his jersey. For some reason Ward has seemed untouchable on this team because he has played in the NHL, but he is the biggest culprit of taking hooking and holding penalties because you apparently can’t teach that old dog new tricks.
Sure enough, Platil’s benching had no affect on the team and there was Ward taking a 5 minute spearing penalty in the first period and getting a game misconduct. Plus the Senators sorely needed Platil in this game to provide some spark with his bone rattling checks. This team barely had a pulse and Platil is the type of player who can wake a team up. I am much more willing to forgive Platil the occasional penalty for being an aggressive player than I am to forgive Ward for being a slow player who like to use his stick.
I’m hoping Cameron seizes the opportunity and puts Platil back on the blue line and puts Ward in the stands, but I have a feeling that the second year coach doesn’t have the kahunas to sit a guy with 209 games of NHL experience.
February 25, 2006
Despite the score, this game was from close. The Senators continue to take horrible penalties. Yes, the ref didn’t call a border-line call when Malec was smeared into the glass, but he was sure watching when he retaliated and the Senators were down 2 men for a two minute 5 on 3 just over a minute into the game. Just like that the Marlies were handed this game nice and gift-wrapped. They scored an easy PP goal and Sens stuck to their usual game plan of late, take dumb penalties and show no energy in the offensive zone.
During this game I was monitoring the crowd’s reactions. I noticed that during last weekends win it was one of the quietest crowds I’d heard in the arena. Seemed as if the Sens faithful were becoming a little apathetic. Last night they started in on refs since our team gave us little to cheer for. Yes, there were some borderline calls, but for the majority of the calls against the Sens were correct. By the third period the Sens fans seemed to realize the jeering became directed towards our own team. The B-Sens were, once again, attempting one of their last minute comebacks and finally showing some energy and keeping the puck in the zone. But what got the fans so riled up was that whenever the Marlies got the puck, NO ONE was hitting! It looked like a Tuesday night 40 and over league (”Sorry Bill, didn’t mean to hit you so hard, I’ll buy your first round after the game.”)
These are frustrating times for the B-Sens and I’m not sure what it will take to turn them around. All is not lost. Denis Hamel continues to fly down the ice and Danny Bois is looking better and better, but with other guys floating around and unwilling to take the body there is no sustained offensive pressure, just the occasion shot or two and then back to defense.
Notes: It was mascot night at the arena and not only did the Marlies play better than us, but they have a cuter mascot! My kids loved Duke and he was really hamming it up around the rink.
I took the boys for high-fives at the visitors locker room and only one Toronto player came over. Norfolk is still the winner for nicest visiting team.
Martins played betterand there are several candidates to replace him in the dog house.
Guard looked sound in net. Not his best performance, but he played well enough for the Sens to win this game. I expect to see Thompson in net today as Ottawa wants to see which of these guys to callup to backup Emery when the NHL schedule resumes.
The third period was delayed by 23 minutes after the Zamboni ran over a souvenir t-shirt. That was the only thing that kept this from being one of the quickest games of the season.
February 24, 2006
The Olympics are winding down and the big talk in Ottawa is about Hasek. The Dominator was injured during the first game of the Olympic tournament and his return once the NHL picks up again is in doubt. As a Binghamton Senator fan the next logical question is who will be called up? The logical answer is Kelly Guard who has managed to post a 14-12-1 record for a last place team.
Personally I hope they callup Thompson. Not just because Guard has played well for us, but I think Thompson could benefit from a stay in Ottawa. Thompson’s struggles this season has made his future with the club uncertain and if he wants a shot at the NHL he needs to step up his level of play. Spending some time practicing with the Sens, backing up Emery, and being under the watchful eye of goalie coach Ron Low may be just what he needs.
Ottawa, however, holds only a two point lead over the Sabres and is three points behind Carolina for first place in the conference and home ice advantage through the first 3 rounds of the playoffs. After a solid start to the season, Ray Emery has been struggling in net and the Senators would want a backup who will be able to play and to WIN.