Thursday, November 09, 2006

It’s turning into very a hot road trip for the Sens, but not in the best way

Going into the game Wednesday night, the calls were already getting loud from a segment of the Senator faithful for John Muckler and Brian Murray to be relieved of their duties. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, after yet another third period implosion and yet another lost game that should never have been in doubt.

A website called Fire has popped up on the internet allowing Sens fans to vent and purge their pain with a vote, to keep or get rid of GM John Muckler. So far (as of midnight on Wednesday night) the pain of defeat is taking its toll, over 70% of the 677 votes cast have said its time for a new face and a new mind in the GM’s office.

Wednesday night the Sens did no favours for their management team, featuring another disturbing night of poor third period play, surrendering the lead and allowing the Atlanta Thrashers to come back and snatch a 5-4 victory that shouldn’t have been their for the taking. These Senators are in a mess and show no signs of finding a way out of it anytime soon

And while Roy Mlakar keeps his head and doesn’t call for Muckler and Murray’s, it is getting to be a worrisome trend that this Senator team is following. They play a decent enough game for the first two periods, only to open the gates in the third and surrender without much of a fight.

Thirteen games into a new season and they are holding some pretty unfamiliar territory that of the lower reaches of the Eastern Conference. For a team that many suggested was a strong candidate for a Stanley Cup run, they wouldn’t even make the playoffs with their record or play of late.

Their captain is under pressure for underperforming, a highly touted rookie is rebelling over the prospect of time on the farm. And most importantly the main off season move of bringing in an experienced goal tender isn’t working out as planned.

In fact the Gerber gambit does not seem to be paying off at all for Muckler. Over the off season, the Sens GM. balked at paying Zdeno Chara a larger salary, preferring instead to bring in a more seasoned goaltender in the form of Gerber. The only problem has been a tendency of the seasoned one, to surrender goals by the basket late in a game costing the team valuable points and positioning.

While Gerber has not been sharp at times, the blame can’t sit squarely with him. There is a problem defensively on this team, which once was its strength with the big four of Redden, Phillips, Chara and Meszaros.

With Chara leaving for Boston, the hole his absence left seems to grow bigger with each successive loss. If one move in the past summer comes back to haunt Muckler, it will be his ham handed handling of the Chara situation. Combine that with the less than rewarding play of Gerber and you can see how the anti Muckler vote has reached 70%.

Trades are demanded by the followers of the Senators, but it's not as easy as all that anymore. Most of the bargaining chips were moved around in the last couple of years, salary cap concerns and an underperforming line up don't give Muckler much in the way of trade bait at the moment.

In the end, it will be up to the players to pull out of the tail spin they seem intent on going through. Time will tell if the tandem of Muckler and Murray are there when they come out from the other side of this slide. But they can’t like what they seen, for the moment their players aren’t doing much to help them keep their jobs.

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