Friday, October 20, 2006

If the playoffs started today…

Well ok, it really means nothing at this early a date in the NHL season. But still a slow start from the Ottawa Senators has the hometown faithful in a rather foul mood of late.

Last night, Jason Spezza felt the wrath of the Scotiabank sociopaths, as he was mercilessly booed at times whenever he touched the puck or appeared on the ice. And while an untimely give away by Spezza proved costly to the Sens, It appears to be a rather unfair judgment by the crowd, since he’s surely not the only underperforming Senator in the house these days.

Spezza who is reported by TSN to be feeling some ill effects from off season back injury took an ear full from the crowd and his coach on Thursday. But he must wonder if perhaps some of his team mates might deserve a few catcalls as well, as the Sens dropped yet another home game, this time to the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 2-1.

Part of the problem for Sens fans seems to be the fact that former Sens are making a big impression on their new clubs while the team they left behind struggles to regain the form of less than a year ago.

Two names come to mind when Sens fans look at the where are they now club, Martin Havlat who is making the Chicago Black Hawks look like a viable product once again and of course Big Zed, Zedeno Chara who so impressed his new club they made him the captain. God help John Muckler if Alexi Yashin suddenly finds some passion for the game and begins to score goals!

Much of the trouble this year so far could rest with Muckler’s handling of the off season roster moves. A scenario that was well researched and reviewed by the Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan.

Given a chance to try and keep Chara under contract and in a Sens uniform, Muckler instead let him move on to Boston, preferring to spend that money on a goal tender that may or may not have really been needed. Muckler took a fair amount of that Chara dividend and brought in Martin Gerber as the main game day goaltender at a rather handsome salary level, despite the fact that he had been deemed expendable in Carolina.

This of course had the dual effect of letting Chara get away and treating former back up Ray Emery as some kind of unreliable pylon in the back end, despite the fact that Emery played some pretty decent hockey down the stretch after the Dom Hasek debacle. Finding a less expensive goal tender to back up Emery might have been a better move, allowing the Sens to keep a main anchor to their defence and maybe unearth another blue liner or mid range forward to help share the load.

All of which is water under the Bank Street Bridge now, where the Sens go from this point could very well determine the future of both John Muckler and Brian Murray, who suddenly seem to be dinosaurs of a very different era.

Six games in is obviously a little early to be pounding on the panic button and it’s better to stink at the start and shine at the end. But with what seems so far to be a lack of interest and effort on the behalf of this crop of Sens, the possibility of changes is always present.

The problem is this is a team that has already let a few too many blue chip prospects and actual established players get away. Past mistakes that come back to haunt the Sens every time somebody picks up a stats sheet and compares the success of those that left, with those that remain.

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